Thesis Filmmakers Need Your Help Affording Quvenzhané Wallis’ Salary

The official theme for their capital campaign is “#THESISWHY.”

Tired of capital campaigns yet? Too bad. Making movies is expensive, and #thisiswhy thesis filmmakers Gus Vita ’13 and Dema Paxton Fofang ’13 (otherwise known as The Artist Formerly Known as Bamenda) are asking for your help in the form of a Kickstarter and an IndieGogo campaign, respectively. Vita’s asking for $3,000 and Fofang’s asking for $1,000, which comes to $4,000 total between the two of them, which still only amounts to .016% of the budget of Michael Bay ’86s next $25 million opus (and that’s not counting the extra millions for advertising), so throw them a bone, will you? (At any rate, both of them have raised substantial funds towards their goals as of this posting—but they need more.)

You’d be right in assuming that filming is complete for both movies, so why raise money now? As Fofang explains it, “both of our projects were shot on 16mm, and the post-production process for that format is quite expensive. I’m currently spending long hours each day editing the film on a Steenbeck, and prepping for the final stages of post-production.” A cursory glance at Fofang’s own fundraising campaign reveals in detail where the money’s going: hiring a negative cutter to assemble the final cut, hiring a professional sound mixer to optimize the soundtrack, answer prints, color correction, telecine, festival distribution fees.

Wait, festival distribution fees? For real? If you donate, that means you can take credit when one of these films becomes the next Beasts of the Southern Wild and shows up on Oprah and gets problematized by The New Republic or whatever. Click past the jump for a bit more information on both films.(Update: Between 1:00 p.m. this afternoon, when I received this post request, and now, when I got around to writing it, Vita’s film cruised well past its $3,000 goal. Fofang’s movie still has a few hundred dollars to go.)

Round Six, Vita’s film, is a good old-fashioned boxer film, which worked well for Scorsese and Howard, so why not? According to Vita’s Kickstarter, Round Six is the tale of Tully, “a washed up amateur boxer struggling both as a fighter and as a single parent,” and his young son Remy:

 Desperate for money to keep him and Remy afloat, Tully has found himself with no choice but to throw fights for seedy gamblers and bookies, for fast yet cheap and dirty money. Remy, unaware of this, has never gone to one of his father’s fights but has created a heroic fantasy of him as a noble boxing superhero. And although he knows his father is anything but perfect, when it comes to boxing Remy can’t imagine his father has ever lost, let alone thrown, a fight.

“Shooting on 16 mm film forced us to approach every shot, take, and scene with extreme precision and concentration,” Vita writes, “for we could not waste an inch of the extremely pricey film.” Not that post-production is especially cheap, either: “For one I am editing on a Steenbeck machine,” Vita explains. “This means instead of clicking buttons and dragging files, I will be making physical cuts to film and using tape to string them together.” Sounds labor-intensive. Funds are being raised to support film processing and developing, edge coding, answer prints, color correction, mag stock, sound mixing, negative cutting, telecine, and festival distribution.

Shot over the course of two weekends in the fall (“narrowly dodging a hurricane in the process”), Fofang’s film, Elliot, sounds awesome and slightly bizarre; it’s the story of “an elderly couple falling back in love after the mysterious death of their dog.” Here’s the full synopsis:

The central couple at the heart of “Elliot”‘s story, Maeble and Bud, did the whole falling deeply in love thing many decades ago. Through time and routine, they’ve grown distant.  The dubious death of Maeble’s beloved dog, Elliot, merely an irritation to Bud, results in the quiet climax of their tense relationship. When things seem most dire, the inadvertent employment of a nine year old pet detective might be just absurd enough to bring them back together.

Of course, there are perks for those who donate, ranging from five high-fives ($5) to a lovingly assembled poster ($50) to gold status as a film exec in the credits ($250). “If we exceed our goal, the surplus will cover previous production costs,” Fofang writes.

Support Fofang’s film here. Support Vita’s film here.

12 thoughts on “Thesis Filmmakers Need Your Help Affording Quvenzhané Wallis’ Salary

  1. Hey!

    I just really have an issue with how much cronyism is on wesleying these days. Can’t wait until 2013 graduates, pretty much every other year above and below them has had enough of these kids…

    1. Zach

      Dude, what? Besides the fact that I’m not friends with either of these filmmakers (and have only ever met one of them before), Wesleying will post about any Wes-based Kickstarter that lands in our inbox (and we have, too: http://wesleying.org/?s=kickstarter ).

      This blog exists to promote, share, and cover student life. At a small school where pretty much everyone knows everyone, I guess you could call that cronyism—but what’s your point?

        1. anotherer student

          No one’s being compelled to donate. These filmmakers want to make the best films they can, and they need the money to do it. There’s nothing dirty about crowdsourced funding. And also for 16mm, these dollar values are by no means unusual. The process is expensive as shit.

          These two should explore any means of making the money necessary to produce a 16mm thesis film if they can get it. After all, thesis ain’t how much you spend on production.

          1. Bob

            yeah but at the same time, both of these people are fairly well to do and can afford to make their theses. but both of them have already pretty much gotten to their goals, so kudos for working the system i suppose…

          2. yetanotherstudent

            A 16mm thesis film costs $7-10,000 on average. I have never heard of a 16mm thesis being made for less than $5,000 (absolute, absolute, absolute cheapest). Do you have intimate knowledge of these students’ individual financial assets? Are you positive that they have the personal disposable income to pay for a 16mm film? Because you seem pretty confident in your condescending assertions.

            So yes, they “worked the system,” in that they figured out how to complete a project that was important to them in the way that they wanted to do it without allowing an initial lack of adequate funding to hinder their efforts.

            Quite disgusting indeed.

          3. please...

            “Do you have intimate knowledge of these students’ individual financial assets?”

            Yes.

      1. other student

        They should have worked on digital and color-treated their footage to look standard just like everyone else if they didn’t want to incur the insane costs of processing and negative-cutting. No one forced them to work in 16mm. Plus it’s strange they’re doing this right before theses are due instead of last spring/summer. Is it really normal to hire multiple employees for a senior project and raise money for festival entry fees?

        Whatever. Maybe it’s only extraordinary to be reminded publicly how much money people pour into their projects. If the films are good it’s not an issue. If they’re bad it’ll be extra disappointing.

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