Canary in a Coal Mine – Our big push to the finish line

From Jen (who has ME) and Kiran, makers of the upcoming feature length film about those living with the invisible illness ME/CFS: Canary in a Coal Mine:

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Daily we are moved by the support and embrace of this film, by all the messages, words of support and the stories you’ve shared.

Thanks to that support, we’ve raised a tremendous fraction of our budget through the power of the crowd, far more than we ever imagined. At $159,417, and with one week left, we are in striking distance of our goal!

We just wanted to answer some questions about our budget. Even when we were aiming for our first $50,000, some wondered why we needed even that much to make a feature-length film. Why are we now shooting for four times that goal?

Good questions, all.

So, we thought we’d share with you some examples of recent successful documentaries and what they cost to produce, as well as how the funds you have helped us raise will be used in support of this film.

$200,000 is a big number in our lives and in the world of Kickstarter. However, in the world of professional, feature-length documentaries, it is a realistic but modest budget.

Some sample budgets of documentary films that have played at top festivals and gone on to have theatrical, TV, and online releases:

  • Under Our Skin (Lyme disease documentary) – just under $1 million
  • 5 Broken Cameras – $250,000 (Oscar nominee) – (shot using mostly home-video footage)
  • The Invisible War – $850,000 (Oscar nominee)
  • A Small Act – under $500,000
  • The Gatekeepers – 1.5 million euros (Oscar nominee)
  • Searching for Sugarman – $1 million (Oscar nominee)
  • Inside Job – $2 million (Oscar nominee)

Is it possible to make an excellent film for much less? Of course. And that’s what we’re trying to do!

Here is what our film will cost:

Production: $120,000 This money covers upgrading to a better camera that can more beautifully capture images in near darkness, allowing us to film our most severely afflicted interview subjects who cannot tolerate light. As an added bonus, the film will also have an overall higher-quality look when shown on large formats (theaters!). It will cover the cost of travel and lodging so we can shoot on location in the US and several other countries, in addition to hiring professional sound recordists and camera assistants, shooting permits, insurance, and meals for the crew.

Post-Production: $80,000 This will cover hiring an editor, doing a final color correction, sound design and mix, music rights, and making a film print for festival screenings. Did you know that a single 35mm print, which many top festivals and some theaters still require, costs, at minimum, $30,000?

Why are you try to raise so much on Kickstarter?

The more we can raise now, the more energy we have to focus on craft, the faster we can finish the film, and the less energy we will need to spend on fundraising in the future. And as I’m sure you can appreciate, for Jen, the more energy saved, the better!

What happens if you raise more than your goal?

For starters, Kickstarter and Amazon payments will take about 7-10% of what we’ve raised, and fulfilling rewards does carry some costs.

The short answer is, within reason, more money will help us get to an even better film. It means being able to shoot for more days, get even better footage, or the power to work with even more talented and experienced folks.

What if you don’t raise everything on Kickstarter?

We have many applications out for grants. We will keep pounding the pavement. And one way, or another, we will get to where we’re going.

Got more questions? Ask away!

Thank you so much for your continued support of our bid to make M.E. visible, to help push history forward a little faster.

With gratitude,

Jen & Kiran

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I personally encourage everyone to check out the site Canary in a Coal Mine and support them if you can. Even $1.00 will help. Believe me, ME/CFS is a terrible disease and little is still known about it. There is no cure and no real treatments. The most severe of us are bed-ridden, paralyzed, unable to tolerate any light, noise, touch, or smell. Please help.

Take care,

Linda Williams Stirling

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