Most filmmakers already know this: filmmaking is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
But The Winding Stream has turned out to be an ultramarathon. You know, a race where 26.6 miles just isn’t enough? You’ve gotta run for several days straight through Death Valley? In the summertime? At high noon? Wearing flipflops?
Not that I’m complaining. I love filmmaking and there’s nothing else I’d rather do for work (believe me, I’ve thought about alternatives a lot lately!) Still, it requires endurance and these days, a lot of extra creativity. Because all of the traditional ways of getting films funded are on the wane — grants, corporate underwriting, broadcast fees, distribution dollars in advance and other pre-sales — and all the new ways of getting films seen — the internet-driven ones — don’t really pay much, if anything (yet?). So getting money to make a film like The Winding Stream has been more of a challenge than any film I’ve ever made. Ever. Even when so many people I talk to in the industry acknowledge it’s a great topic and we have great footage thus far and they “look forward to seeing it when it’s done,” the financial support just hasn’t followed. Old models for doing business in film have collapsed and no one knows exactly what the new models will turn out to be.
But undaunted, we continue.
For example, we’ve assembled a group of folks whom I refer to as the “brainstormers” who have been helping me identify, explore and act on new possibilities to get the film done. Most of these folks are not filmmakers, but they are successful people in their fields and they come with fresh perspectives. We even have a team of professional facilitators who are helping us keep the process on track. This has been an exciting trip for me and I’m very grateful to everyone who’s helped me thus far. (I’ll be writing more about this group in an upcoming blog.)
One of the things that has come out of this process already is the idea of forming strategic outreach partnerships. And that means expanding on the idea of what making a film really means. So, as an example, we have just submitted a grant to the National Endowment for the Arts. In our proposal we requested funds to finish shooting the film. But we have also asked for funding to make –- wait for it –- a phone app! Seriously. This application will re-purpose footage that we have already shot, combining it with footage we still want to shoot, in order to make a downloadable guided tour of the Carter Family Fold in Virginia. It will tell a piece of the Carter story in a different way than the film, but will promote the film in the process! And vice versa.
Now, I never imagined myself in the phone app biz. But here I am. And this one is great because it will enhance the film itself and expand its reach with new technology. We’ll build the app with the involvement of an organization called The Crooked Road which promotes the musical heritage of Southwest Virginia — Carter Family country.
I think this is really exciting. It feels right to me, not something “tacked onto” the film but something that is organic to the project. And I love the cross-pollination – one element expanding the reach of the other. And I also love the names together: The Crooked Road and The Winding Stream!
Check out this great organization’s website: www.crookedroad.org
We’re also still applying to major funders for completion money and will know more about the results of that in the coming months.
Meanwhile, we hope to go to Nashville in September and do some more shooting in conjunction with the annual Americana Music Conference (many of our film’s stars are involved in this organization and several of them will be receiving honors at this year’s awards ceremony at the conference).
Needless to say, we want to be there since it would be a great way of getting a lot of interviews “in the can” at one time.
But that requires some financial support.
If you are at all inclined to donate to the film, now would be a most welcome time. This would allow us to keep the film moving while we wait for other funds to come in. We’re hoping to raise $10,000. But every little bit helps.
Just go to the Donate page on this site and click on the Paypal button. And thanks.
It’s tax-deductible. And you can consider it a few more important steps toward finishing the ultramarathon.