As we embark on a new year, we’d like to bring you up to date on the progress of the Wilhelm Reich Documentary Film Project since the conclusion in June 2016 of our crowdfunder for Editing & Post-Production.
And thank you again for supporting this project during one or both of our crowdfunders and for the inquiries and good wishes many of you have sent us over the past months.
During the edit phase, our Film Storyline—a nearly 200-page text written from 2010 to 2014—has been our guide for assembling the film’s narrative structure, with attention to precise chronology, factual accuracy and compelling drama.
The narrative structure uses a dynamic approach: Verbally the film story is being told with a mix of scripted narration, comments from 24 on-camera interviews, and excerpts from Reich’s voice recordings. Visual elements supporting this narrative include Reich’s photographs, his personal and scientific films, and excerpts from his diaries, journals, laboratory notebooks, correspondence, legal documents and unpublished manuscripts.
We’re also using visuals from other resources, including all U.S. government files on Reich: State Department, FBI, INS and FDA.
Since the Indiegogo campaign ended in June, editing has proceeded on a weekly basis. We’ve completed well over 1 hour of what will be a 110-minute film, which means we’re over 60% of the way through the story.
Since June we’ve also been mindful of our obligation to raise additional monies for this project. As you may recall, our Indiegogo campaign raised $115,780. Successful as it was, this fell short of our goal of $180,000. To close that gap we immediately began looking at grant applications for “finishing funds” from various organizations.
In August, in addition to editing the film, we spent considerable time filling out an application to the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Fund Program.
The application was long and detailed. But projects chosen by Sundance can receive up to $50,000, so we always considered this an effort well worth making.
However, we had no illusions about what we felt were our two major obstacles to being selected:
1. The competition is fierce. Every year Sundance receives dozens, if not hundreds of grant applications from films-in-progress, of which it chooses only a few.
2. Most documentaries that Sundance has funded are contemporary stories. The Wilhelm Reich Documentary Film Project, by contrast, is a deeply historical biography.
On September 8th we submitted the Sundance application. And on November 28th, Sundance notified us that we had not been chosen: “…after careful review and deliberation, we regret to inform you that the film was not selected for funding…”
Disappointing, yes. But not entirely surprising.
Meanwhile we were also evaluating over 100 other applications for finishing funds, a process which raises a key question for any grant applicant: “Does the film’s subject matter match the grant providers’ preferences for the types of films they’re looking to support?”
All applications provide guidance about the types of films that grant providers are looking for. And the main criterion for many funders is a film story dealing with contemporary issues. So, as you can imagine, a project about Wilhelm Reich is a “tough sell”.
Undaunted, we winnowed down that long list to a handful of grant applications that were interested in biographies and historical subjects. We’re hopeful that our efforts will be rewarded and we continue to edit the film. But without making up the shortfall (c. $60,000) it’s unlikely we can finish the film by our goal of September 2017.
Specifically these additional funds are needed to:
(1) Purchase the rights and clearances to historic photographs and film footage.
(2) Hire and record a narrator and other contributing voices.
(3) Produce a music score and sound design.
(4) Create graphic treatments and titles.
(5) Complete the final editing, color correction and audio mixing of this full-length documentary.
We welcome any ideas regarding other possible sources of funding that you might know about: perhaps an organization, foundation, educational entity, distributor or other funding opportunity anywhere that we’re unaware of. (You can contact me at: email@example.com)
And we know you’ve already been very generous with your support, but we hope you might consider making another contribution.
We’re making every effort, personally and financially, to see this film through to completion. And creatively and intellectually, we’re making every effort to get this story right. We know you’ll be pleased with the finished film and we look forward to premiering it in September 2017.
Thank you for all of your interest and support.
Kevin Hinchey (firstname.lastname@example.org)