Have you ever wanted to make a movie so bad you could taste it? My name is Jayce Bartok, and I am an actor. Well, a few years back, I wrote a screenplay called The Cake Eaters, and by some miracle and a lot of bizarre meetings with potential investors, The Cake Eaters got made on a fairly large indie scale starring the now uber star Kristen Stewart, Aaron Stanford, Bruce Dern, directed by Mary Stuart Masterson, and produced by 7th Floor, and 57th and Irving. At the same time, we (my wife, Tiffany Bartok and I) merrily made a small documentary with friends Andy Bates and Joelle Carter about people changed by Elvis Presley called, Altered By Elvis. The four of us threw the modest budget onto credit cards, and had a blast never even preparing a proper budget.
Reflecting back on these two high and low movie making experiences after The Cake Eaters was finished, we thought now we are really going to get to make some movies!
Flash to four years later….
After numerous almost starts, a handful of scripts and directors and actors attached, we are not only back to square one, but I feel we are in the parking lot of the building that is Square One. How the hell did this happen? Our films won awards, got good reviews and The Cake Eaters starred a full on celebrity! Regarding our new projects, and the 4 scripts I had waiting to be made, producers would famously say “love the script! Go get famous people attached, get famous yourself, and then we’ll maybe make this with you.”
It’s almost as if now we know just enough to know too much. In the last year, I’ve had friends have come over for dinner and say, “When are you going to make another movie?
I just made my fourth.” What?!? I started to hear the words Kickstarter and Twitter and Crowd Sourcing thrown around. These same dinner party friends were quickly raising $10, $20, even $30,000 dollars and making micro-budget, DIY features on the quick. I scratched my head and said “No.” We aren’t going back to putting a movie on a credit card are we? Tiff any responded by saying, “Get a grip, they aren’t using credit cards! People are giving them the money out of some wonderful desire to see them succeed.”
When I saw that David Lynch was even doing it, I finally got it.
This sat with me as I read all the articles in Variety and The NY Times about the collapse of the indie film distribution model. So last summer, Tiffany said, we need to form a collective, a place where films can get made, where the audience becomes the donor, where artists can submit their work and it can be voted on by the donors to be the next year’s project. And the idea for The Independent Collective (TIC) www.theindependentcollective.com was born. But how to set this thing up? And what would be our first project?
For the sake of ease, we turned to my new script, Tiny Dancer, about a ballerina who must decide between motherhood and her life as an artist, as TIC’s first project. Tiny Dancer had been developing for years with two other talented directors and a wonderful cast interested including Elizabeth Berkley, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Josh Hamilton.
But how do you raise the kind of money you need for a bigger small indie ($200,000) through Kickstarter? We were advised to team up with a not for profit like the amazing New York Foundation for the Arts so the movie can operate with fiscal sponsorship, essentially a 501 (c)(3) umbrella loaned to us in the rainstorm of fundraising. We were fortunate enough to be accepted into NYFA’s program, made a cool animated fundraising video, and here we are…
Almost $10,000 raised, applying for grants, seeking corporate sponsorship, doing all the things I always associated with either documentary filmmakers or completely out there artists. I have to say, it’s pretty freakin’ empowering. Yes, we all know the quality of the end product is what matters, but there has to be some artistic credit for the power of the journey, right? When someone sends you a check for $1000, there is nothing more validating in this economic climate. We don’t know where this will take us, TIC, and Tiny Dancer, but it seems to be the way the indie film world is heading. I feel like a hitchhiker circa 1967 standing on the New York ThruWay with a cardboard sign that reads, “Another film or BUST!”. We want this project to succeed so that we can do it with more films and even visual art and music projects submitted by people within The Collective.
So pull over and pick us up. It’s going to be an interesting journey.
Jayce Bartok and wife Tiffany Bartok‘s reside in Brooklyn, NY. Jayce’s screenwriting debut, The Cake Eaters, was released in 2009 and their documentary, Altered By Elvis, can be seen broadcasted world-wide. 3 months ago they launched The Independent Collective a fundraising community for Jayce’s second script Tiny Dancer.
THE INDEPENDENT COLLECTIVE