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Screen Gems

By LEVI AGEE SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published July 12, 2013 at 1:55 a.m.

It doesn’t look like indie film production in Arkansas is taking a summer break. Lots of projects are in production or slated to be shot in the near future. Many of those projects are in their fundraising stages. If you’ve tried to raise money for a film in the last three years you probably know about crowd-funding campaigns through websites like Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

Websites like these level the playing field for film funding for filmmakers without access to a film studio to bankroll their work - as long as you have a good idea or a wealthy circle of friends. Projects will ask “investors” or donors to contribute anywhere from $5 to $1,000 to their film in exchange for certain perks or gifts in kind, like a copy of the film or a T-shirt with the film’s logo or even an executive producer credit.

Locally, lots of films have reached their goals, while a few haven’t. It can be exciting following the different campaigns going on throughout the state, but also daunting, so I’ll give you some of the highlights.

Arkansas native Beth Brickell, who now lives in Beverly Hills, has a project called Big Doc, based on the novel Big Doc’s Girl by Mary Medearis. It’s the story of a teenage daughter of a country doctor and a piano teacher who dreams of becoming a concert pianist. The book made the New York Times best-seller list soon after it was released in 1942, and, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, has the distinction of staying in print longer than any other work of fiction by an Arkansas author.

The story impressed Brickell, who used a grant to buy the option to the book in 1987 and has since used her own money to renew the option every year. As of writing this the project has about $4,000 out of a $2 million goal. The deadline was July 11, so barring a miracle, it didn’t make it, but you shouldn’t let that dissuade you from helping Brickell make this story a reality. If you are interested, you can check out their Kickstarter page to get a 10-minute video about the film (kickstarter.com/projects/1546315532/bigdoc-the-movie), or you can go to luminousfilms.net to learn more about Brickell and her previous work. You can also reach Luminous Films in Beverly Hills at (310) 274-0185 or via email at luminousfilms@sbcglobal.net .

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Another film that uses crowd-funding is Dave Ellis Grim’s Tragedy. This is Grim’s first time behind the camera, having been cast in several projects in Arkansas as an actor.

Details about the storyline are tough to come by as the production is trying to keep elements “under wraps, ” but I know the story centers on a police patrolman and a homeless man and is to be shot in downtown Little Rock in August.

It looks like the cast and crew have already been filled and confirmed on the site and the film is in need of $2,000 before Thursday. Interestingly enough, Craig O’Neill is slated to play the character “Craig.” I wonder who that character could be.

Perks for donating include tickets to the premiere, a chance at being an extra and an associate producer credit. For more information about the film or to donate to the production, visit indiegogo.com/projects/tragedy-a-filmmade-in-arkansas.

Levi Agee is a filmmaker and programmer for the Little Rock Film Festival. Write him at: levifilm@gmail.com

MovieStyle, Pages 31 on 07/12/2013

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