Posts tagged: film

Costa Rican director crowd-funds feature film

Using a strategy all but unknown in his home country, Costa Rican filmmaker Hernán Jiménez is utilizing 21st-century methods to fund a portrait of a family–and country–in crisis.

Jiménez, now based in San Francisco, just wound up a wildly successful experiment in crowd-funding, a new online method for financing anything from the arts to medical care. Jiménez is using kickstarter.com; other sites, like crowdrise.com, specialize in charitable causes. Spotus.com emphasizes “community-powered reporting,” and invested.in is where you can raise money for anything from “Kidney Surgery Fund” to “Get me to Miss Virginia USA 2011.”

When his campaign ended on April 3, Jiménez got back to work on his second feature film, “The Return” (El regreso), which had stalled for lack of financing.

Hernán Jiménez, who wrote, directs, and acts in "The Return"

Much to the filmmaker’s astonishment, the campaign reached its goal of $40,000 in the first five days of its six-week campaign. And people just kept giving, knowing that Jiménez asked for less than what he needed, since with kickstarter, funding is an all-or-nothing proposition.

Jiménez, who also wrote and acts in “The Return,” saw the online campaign as an extension of asking your nearest and dearest to support your creative work.  “We have now made two films solely based on the support of friends, family and professionals who wholeheartedly believe in us,” he writes on his kickstarter page. “No big studios, no fancy film funds, no political grants, no greedy investors. Just friends of our project and us.”

The donations Jiménez received will defray post-production costs such as color correction, a final sound mix, subtitles, and—the biggest expense—converting HD video to 35 millimeter film.

A Costa Rica you won’t see in tourist brochures

The campaign is truly grassroots: more tahn 1700 people have contributed, the great majority of whom gave between $25 and $50, with some contributing as little as a dollar. Jimenez appealed to a wide circle of friends and fans who know him from his early short films and his first feature, “A Ojos Cerrados” (With Eyes Closed), all filmed in Costa Rica and made on a shoestring. But the campaign for his current film also “went viral,” says Jiménez, especially in Costa Rica, where audiences are hungry for work that reflects their everyday reality.

The trailer for “The Return” shows a Costa Rica you won’t find in tourist brochures. There are no monkeys, rainforests, or pristine beaches here, just traffic jams, barred windows, video arcades, and even the barrel of a gun.  “One of my biggest frustrations with Costa Rican cinema,” says Jiménez, “is that it never seemed to portray daily life as I experienced it there.”

Jiménez plans to premier “The Return” in June in Costa Rica, if it doesn’t premier sooner at a film festival.

When asked why he thinks his campaign was so successful, he says, “Maybe people like the underdog.”

All images (except kickstarter screenshot, below) courtesy of Hernán Jiménez