Some say my tastes in film are highly questionable in that I celebrate the entire catalogues of Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson. That’s probably why I was intrigued when my good friend — stage actor Brandon Wardell – told me about his forthcoming film “Shift.”
It’s the story of drag racer Boomer Honeycutt and his quest is to escape his father’s shadow to become the next drag racing Classic Gear Jammers Champion. After separating from his fiancée, Boomer takes refuge sleeping in his van but awakes after a rough night out to find an eleven-year-old boy outside and a note from his high school sweetheart welcoming him to fatherhood.
“We’re not making an art house film about a someone with a mental disorder here,” Wardell told me. “Our film is about drag racing which is already an enormously successful business all over the world with millions of fans.”
This is no fly-by-night production. Actors Christian Camargo from “The Hurt Locker,” “Dexter,” and the “Twighlight” sagas; as well as Natasha Lyonne from “American Pie” and “Scary Movie;” have signed on for the film.
And regardless of your interest in drag racing, here’s what makes “Shift” interesting: Wardell and his partners at Johnny Roscoe Productions are crowdfunding a portion of the production costs in addition to traditional investment opportunities as they gear up for a projected 2013 release date”(you can crowdfund it here).
“The biggest challenge with crowdfunding is reaching a wide group of people,” Wardell added. “Everyone wants everyone to forward and Tweet and post about it on Facebook, but the results can be underwhelming as most people have their own agendas and can’t dilute their own pool of people, or people simply forget to do the actual donating. Forwarding the link is valuable, but has diminishing returns.”
Crowdfunding has gained steam of late with the recent activity on Capitol Hill and a growing list of items, events, medical expenses, products, RoboCop statues, and yes, films being crowdfunded. So it’s been interesting to see the extensions through which its being used (here’s a list of the “5 Weirdest Crowdfunded Projects” from Wired).
Wardell’s wife, actress Sarah Glendening — best known for her role in “All My Children” — is now working on a film called “Angry Video Game Nerd” which is being touted as one of the largest crowdfunded film projects to date, lending hope for success.
“A lot of people go about this by working like a car salesman to try and convince someone that their film is worthy,” said Wardell. “Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding only works if it goes viral, and we’ve taken the approach that we know we have a great script, but the bigger picture for our investors is the commercial potential of our film.”