Boy's big American adventure - and Taika's advice for the Oscars

by Toby Manhire / 21 February, 2012
On Taika Waititi's Kickstarter project and his tips to improve the Awards ceremony. Plus: Osombie and the Axis of Evil Dead.


Personally, I’d like John Key to stump up the big dollars, if only for the tender beach scene.

I refer, of course, to Taika Waititi’s attempt to raise $90,000 to enable the distribution of his feature film Boy in the US. Here’s the pitch:



Pledge one American dollar via the Kickstarter online funding platform (of which more later) by March 2 and Waititi will “say your name quietly to myself at night before I go to bed”. Plus you get a poster.

The options range all the way up to $10,000, for which you’ll pocket a swag of goodies, including “a personal day-long tour of Waihau Bay, New Zealand with some of the cast and crew members, followed by dinner cooked by me and my aunty”.

And: “Let’s sit on the beach and get to know each other. We can talk about Boy or anything else that’s on your mind.”

§


Waititi’s conquest of America had a boost with a recent appearance in the mass market tabloid New York Post. He shines through a field of film types offering advice on how to improve the Oscars ceremony, which in the Post’s words is at risk of becoming “more boring than ever”.

The counsel from Waititi, who famously feigned slumber when the Oscar camera was on him after his nomination in the short film category for Two Cars, One Night: have the ushers distribute magazines and drinks during the dull bits. Especially after the obituary montage.

“There should be mandatory tequila shots at the end of that sad dead-people video,” says Waititi.

Another idea: “Make a rule that the losers of each category have to carry the winner on to the stage and worship them during their speech.”

Brilliant. One more: “The presenters must all perform excerpts from the films.”

§


What’s this about Kickstarter? A “crowdfunding” platform, the site showcases creative projects seeking funding; pledge money and get a matching reward. Since launching in 2008, Kickstarter has gone from strength to strength.

Last year the site in effect doubled its activity and turnover. A billion US dollars were pledged, with almost 12,000 projects funded, at a success rate of 46%.

Here’s how Kickstarter explains itself:

This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.


On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.


The big sums are just getting bigger. Overnight, a comic book proposal, The Order of the Stick Reprint Drive, became the first book-related venture to chalk up a million dollars in pledges.

Suw Charman-Anderson writes at Forbes:

Currently sitting at $1,072,528 raised from 12,797 backers and with 23 hours to go, comic book artist Rich Burlew has now put all other crowdfunded comics and publishing projects in the shade by one or two orders of magnitude. The question that authors and artists are now asking themselves is, how?


Kickstarter has unarguably proven its worth as a business model for creatives, with two other projects also breaking the million dollar barrier over the last fortnight. The Elevation Dock, an innovative dock for iPhones, raised$1,464,706 from 12,521 backers. And Double Fine Adventure, a video game project from Double Fine and 2 Player Productions, today passed the $2 million mark with more than 60,000 supporters and 22 days to go. It seems reasonable to think that it could raise $4 million or more in total.


So sceptics should put aside their cynicism: Kickstarter, and sites like it, are now incontrovertibly capable of funding a diverse array of creative projects at very high levels.


It’s enough to say that Tim O’Reilly, who knows his onions, said this the other day:

Seems to me that Kickstarter is the most important tech company since Facebook. Maybe more important in the long run.


§


A final suggestion: when you’ve flicked some coin Waititi’s way, film-lovers, here’s another cinematic project worth your attention. An Osama bin Laden zombie film: Osombie and the Axis of Evil Dead.



A plot summary:

The story follows Dusty, a yoga instructor from Colorado, who is on a desperate rescue mission to save her crazy brother Derek, a conspiracy theorist who is convinced Osama Bin Laden is still alive, despite having been buried at sea.


In Afghanistan, Dusty falls in with a team of NATO Special Forces on a secret assignment. Turns out Derek is not so crazy after all, and that Osama has returned from his watery grave and is making an army of zombie terrorists.


When the group crashes headlong into the growing zombie apocalypse, Dusty and the troops must find and destroy the root of the zombie insurgency before it infests the rest of the world.


If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’re thinking, Why didn’t I think of that?
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