Back in 2007 Netflix recommended a movie to me that I had never heard of. It was titled The Man from Earth (aka Jerome Bixby’s The Man from Earth). As you can probably tell from the title and author it is a science fiction film. On thing I should be clear on: it is NOT “sci-fi”. There are no space battles, ray guns, aliens, or any other clichés of the sci-fi genre. Instead it presented a terrific story – the kind that keeps you thinking about it long after the film is over. If you have not seen it you can find out about it by reading my spoiler-free, very positive review of the film here. If you want to see the film, you can watch it streaming from both Netflix Instant and Hulu Plus. Netflix also has it available on DVD.
I enjoyed the film immensely, even going so far as to watch it again just a couple hours after I finished watching it for the first time. One thing I never really thought about was a sequel, though. This is not because I wouldn’t want to see more of the main character, but simply because it didn’t occur to me.
Well today I found out that the original filmmakers have just initiated a Kickstarter campaign to fund a second film. They say that over the years they have been approached many times by people wanting the rights to make more movies, a TV show, or other properties from the idea. They had resisted all of them because they felt they weren’t right – much like Jerome Bixby’s son Emerson fought for years to get The Man from Earth, his father’s final, and perhaps greatest, story made into a worthwhile movie.
Their goal is only $175,000 by October 10, 2013. The first film was made on a shoestring, so this may be a comparable budget. It ended up being pirated from a screener before it was even released, and they did not make back their money until they opened a Paypal account and asked for voluntary donations from those who had seen it for free. (The director of the film, Richard Schenkman, wrote an article about how piracy actually helped spread the word on how good this film was. You can read that here.)
As it turns out, millions of people saw it, loved it, and drove a ton of interest in it. For over a year it was the most searched for science fiction film on IMDB. It is those people who have also been driving interest in a sequel. With the successful experience of gathering funds over the internet, this time the filmmakers have gone the Kickstarter route for funding, rather than going to studios.
I wanted to embed their video discussing this effort into this post, but I couldn’t find it on Youtube yet. It is on the project’s Kickstarter page, as are a description of what they want to accomplish, and a list of the various perks and benefits you get for the various levels of donations. If you’ve got the dough you can even get a walk on role in the film.
If you have never heard of Kickstarter, it was founded in 2009 to help fund creative projects. There is no risk to contributors because if the project does not reach its funding goals in the time specified then the project is off and all funds are returned. Either you get what you contributed to (in this case a movie), or no money leaves your wallet.
I’m putting my money where my mouth, well keyboard, is and I’ve made a contribution. Even if the second film is only half as good as the first one it will still be well worth seeing. You know what? I’m going to go pop in my DVD of the first film and watch it again right after I finish this post.
Here is the Kickstarter page for this film if you want to find out more and/or make a donation.