Nuts, bolts, hot tips, and road-tested information from Holly Million for indie filmmakers raising money

Tag Archives: Jennifer Kroot

The Victory Lap: It Came From Kuchar

I was talking to my good friend, Jennifer M. Kroot, about the string of film festivals she has been traveling to for the past couple weeks and will continue traveling to for a couple weeks to come. Jennifer is not a big fan of travel in general. But this time, it’s different. It’s her chance to bask in the afterglow of all the hard work she has done to take her documentary film, It Came From Kuchar, from a little twinkle in her eye to a great, big, feature-length documentary that is totally first rate.

I reminded Jennifer that these festivals are her “victory lap,” the payoff for the struggle, the Herculean efforts at fundraising we went through, the long, dark nights and days in the edit suite, and on and on.

We raised nearly $110,000 in grant monies for the film with the rest of the budget coming from individuals. The Creative Work Fund/span> deserves a rousing round of applause for providing the first big grant. I can tell you that the first grant is always crucial to get the fundraising skids greased up. I can also tell you that this was some of the hardest fundraising I have ever done, because when we started foundations were already turning away from film. Luckily, we finished our efforts before the latest economic meltdown.

If you would like to see the fruits of our labors, come see It Came From Kuchar on Sunday, June 21 at 6:30 PM at the Castro Theatre when the film screens in the Frameline LGBT Film Festival. Both Kuchar brothers, George and Mike, will be on hand to receive a lifetime achievement award from Frameline.

Oh, yes, and I’ll be there, too, along with my husband, Chris Million, the DP of the film, to answer any questions you may have about that fundraising highway to hell that we survived. Glad to swap war stories anytime!

In fundraising solidarity,
Holly Million

Howdy, filmmakers! How’d you get those funds?

I’m blogging from the SXSW Film Festival in Austin Texas, where It Came From Kuchar, directed by Jennifer M. Kroot, is premiering tonight at 5 PM. Jennifer called me back in October 2005 to ask me if I would be interested in producing her film. Being familiar with Jennifer’s work on her narrative feature, Sirens of the 23rd Century, I said yes. Sirens of the 23rd Century screened at Frameline, Sci-Fi London and Anthology Film Archives. It won Best Narrative Feature at The New Orleans LGBT festival. Jennifer takes on ambitious projects and sees them through to successful completion. I knew her documentary would finish just as strong.

It Came From Kuchar is a hilarious and touching documentary about the legendary, underground filmmaking twins, the Kuchar brothers. As kids in the 1950s, George and Mike Kuchar began making no-budget epics in their Bronx neighborhood starring friends and family with their 8mm camera. In the 1960s the Kuchars became part of Warhol’s New York, underground film scene. The Kuchar brother’s films have inspired many prominent filmmakers, including John Waters, Buck Henry, Atom Egoyan, Guy Maddin and Wayne Wang (all interviewed in this film). It Came From Kuchar interweaves the brother’s lives, their admirers, a history of underground film and a ‘greatest hits’ of Kuchar clips into a hilarious and touching stream-of-consciousness tale.

As a producer on the film, I raised a substantial portion of the budget from grants from foundations. The rest of the funds came from individual donors. Getting the grants was a little like going to the dentist for a root canal. I would not like to repeat the experience. Our first big opportunity to get a significant grant came just two weeks after Jennifer hired me, when the deadline for a letter of intent to the Creative Work Fund came due on November 3, 2005. The Creative Work Fund is a special arts fund made possible by a consortium of arts foundations in San Francisco. They fund a different field of art in rotating years. At that time, film was funded every three years. Now, it’s every FOUR years. The trick to getting this grant is to have a working relationship between an artist and a nonprofit organization. The problem for us was, we did not have that partnership and the letter was due in two weeks. After barking up the wrong tree, we retrained our focus on the Legion of Graduate Students at the San Francisco Art Institute, the art school where George Kuchar has taught for over 30 years. The students, who love George like their beloved crazy uncle, were all too willing to help! With their involvement, we were able to secure a $35,000 grant for the film. That early money is like yeast! Once we had that grant and the imprimatur of the Creative Work Fund, we entered a different realm of fundraising, where people sat up and listened when we spoke and didn’t immediately slam the door in our faces. It was not a picnic from there, but it sure beat the wandering in the wilderness where the grantless walk.

I’ll be posting more about our premiere and interviewing Jennifer Kroot, George Kuchar, and others from SXSW.