News Column

Filmmakers turn to crowdsourcing to distribute their movie

May 26, 2013


May 26--Kevin Kangas is used to blood and gore.

The thing that really scares the Glen Burnie horror director is traditional film distribution.

So, he and his moviemaking partner, Luke Theriault of Hanover, decided to try something different.

They're crowdsourcing to cover the $52,000 cost of making their latest film, "Garden of Hedon," and will then release it to the public for free on the Internet.

"I don't know if it will work," said Theriault, 39. "I have hopes."

"Even if it doesn't work for us, it could work for other people," said Kangas, 42.

Their campaign, "Spread the Hedonism," began in April and runs until the evening of June 6. They have a long way to go, with just over $4,200 pledged as of Friday morning. Different levels of pledges receive special gifts.

Crowdsourcing is typically used to fund a movie, not distribute one, so the filmmakers realize they have an uphill climb.

If they don't reach their goal, the people who pledged won't be billed, and Kangas and Theriault will have to come up with another plan. What that will be is unclear.

Kangas said all his effort is focused on the Kickstarter campaign, with videos and marketing. "This has been such a massive undertaking."

One of the newest videos on Youtube is a spin-off of the "Twilight Zone" episode "Button, Button." The star of "Garden of Hedon," Richard Cutting, stars in the video, along with Kangas and Theriault.

"I'm not as nervous about (the campaign) as Kevin is," Theriault said. "If you're good enough people will recognize it."

Focus on film

Kangas, who has made five films, including "Fear of Clowns" and "Hunting Humans," said the problem with the traditional distribution model is the time it takes and the lack of money.

It can be six months to a year or longer before a distributor releases a film, and profits could take even more time to accumulate -- if at all, he said. "It's the easiest thing in the world to get a movie distributed, but you won't get paid."

He went the traditional route with all of his previous films -- and "Fear of Clowns," which was picked up by Lionsgate, made him a good bit of money -- but then the market dried up.

Patti White and Lee Anderson, filmmakers who were the creative directors of the Annapolis Film Festival, find the crowdsourcing idea interesting. They also recognize how challenging distribution has become.

"It's so difficult to make money," White said. "People need to do their homework before they make a film."

"Garden of Hedon" was shot in 2010 and finished last year. Kangas directed and edited. Theriault co-wrote the script, produced, and funded the project.

"It certainly would be nice to make money," said Theriault, who runs Dollmasters, a sister company to his family's antique doll auction firm, Theriault's. "But the only reason we want to make money is to do more movies."

The duo already has a script ready for another film.

"Garden of Hedon" revolves around a man who wakes up to find a dead girl in his room inside a home. He has no memory of how he got there, but discovers the house is occupied by people devoted to hedonistic pleasures who are untroubled by a series of murders.

The tagline for the movie is: "When the pleasure stops, the killing begins."

Kangas, who teaches film editing for a Silver Spring company and does computer work, said crowdsourcing not only gets a movie to the public faster, it gives him total control of the product. He'll decide what people see, right down to the extras.

"I can't not make movies," he said, "so even if it's a losing endeavor, I can't not do it."


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