x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

With Iron Sky, the crowd-funded collaborative film gets its moment

The sci-fi meets alternative history romp Iron Sky raised 14 per cent of its budget through the internet. We look at the biggest websites in the crowdsourced film industry.

A scene from Iron Sky, which was funded and written by regular people.
A scene from Iron Sky, which was funded and written by regular people.

"In 1945 The Nazis Went To The Moon. In 2018 They Are Coming Back." That's the tagline for Iron Sky, a film by the Finnish director Timo Vuorensola that mashes up comedy, sci-fi and a little bit of alternative history, and which is expected to come out in the UAE on Thursday. "The battle for Earth," the trailer quips, "is gonna be Nazi."

The strangest thing about this bizarre idea for a movie is that the story itself isn't the most interesting thing about it. Instead, the fact that it was funded and written by regular people engaging with it through a website has heralded a new era of crowdsourced movies.

Using the internet to fund, distribute, publicise and brainstorm ideas for movies is a trend that's been growing for the past few years, but with Iron Sky – a film that premiered at SXSW and the Berlin International Film Festival – the idea has got its Radiohead moment. Here's a guide to the players on the scene.

Wreckamovie

Iron Sky's Finnish filmmaking team created the site, and used it to raise 12 per cent of the film's €7.5 million (Dh34m) budget; the rest came from traditional industry sources. It was also used to generate ideas for character names, design logos and an anthem for the "Fourth Reich". Wreckamovie is now open for other filmmakers to use, with films currently using the site including Sauna, a Finnish horror feature, and Solar System 3D, a German documentary.

Kickstarter

Billing itself as the world's largest funding platform for creative projects, Kickstarter makes it easy to donate money to a film's production. First Winter, a film that was nominated for best narrative feature at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, used the site to raise more than US$14,000 (Dh51,000) towards its budget.

Other movies on the site have raised more than a third of a million dollars each.

IndieGoGo

Like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo allows filmmakers to post a target budget and raise money by selling pre-ordered DVDs, associate producer credits, meetings with the crew and various other goodies and perks. The Spirit Level, a proposed documentary based on the book about social inequality, has raised a five-figure sum selling off goodies, such as tickets to the film's world premiere. Concern has been voiced by film critics that some of the perks for sale – such as being able to write a scene for the movie, or perform a walk-on part – are damaging to artistic standards.

OpenIndie

While the above sites help films get made, OpenIndie helps them get seen. Filmmakers add their movies, the rest of us can watch trailers, read about them and request screenings at our local cinemas. The more requests, the more likely it is to happen. While it's a grassroots concept, award-winning directors such as Ondi Timoner, the winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, are among those who have signed up.

Let it Cast

The author Bret Easton Ellis isn't just using Kickstarter to fund his new film, The Canyons. He's also auditioning for the lead roles using this free casting system, which allows actors to upload videos of themselves. The film, a thriller about five twentysomethings in contemporary Hollywood, will be directed by the Taxi Driver writer Paul Schrader, and those who contributed $10,000 or more to the Kickstarter campaign will be awarded a money clip autographed by Robert De Niro.

Amazon Studios

The retail site branched into movie production in 2010, and is currently soliciting ideas for new films and TV series. You can also vote for which ideas you want to get made on the site, and producers behind Silence of the Lambs, Gran Torino and Crazy, Stupid, Love are on board to help the movies get made.

Coming soon

Launching on July 1, www.aflamnah.com is being billed as the Arab equivalent of the kickstarters of the West.