With Our Powers Combined…

Well that was easy.

Well maybe not easy. Let’s say it was “less hard“.

Call today for BEST FRIENDS FOREVER was 3pm out on the desolate highways of Marfa, TX. Depending on where you’re standing in Marfa, you either have 1 bar of cell reception or zero. Data is just as sketchy. Even if you have reception, it might not work. So for the last 10 hours of the “Save AYWR” Kickstarter campaign, I was more or less of a digital black hole.

But I was getting text messages. Lots of them from Wonder Russell, seemingly with every new backer.

Around 4pm, Brea walked over to ask how the campaign was going. I told her it was about $500 away, which was nothing. Last time we we’re something like $5k away at the same point.

And then, around 5:30pm we had a company move. The text messages stopped. I couldn’t get the Twitter app on my phone to work.

We took the grip truck to the production house to drop off the picture car, where I can usually get service. Nothing. Off to the next location–another desolate road on the other side of Marfa. Nothing.

Then, an hour and a half later, there were suddenly text messages from 12 different people on my phone. That could only mean one thing. Victory!

I put my phone away and went back to work helping set up the 12×8 frame and running stingers back and forth from the generator.

There was still a movie to make.


It’s kind of fitting, really, that I would be so absent for the final push. A Year Without Rent was always conceived as a project for the indie film community, the “Film Courage community”, as Sean Hackett likes to call it. The thinking was that if it could, in any way, bridge that digital divide between people flung all around the world, we’d all be better for it. I think that in a lot of ways, this campaign shows that we’ve accomplished a little bit of that.

The campaign stems from a week back a couple months ago where I gave Victoria Westcott a ride from Seattle to LA to speak on a couple of panels on crowdfunding. There’s this perception of what AYWR is on the ground, I’m sure. Hell, I had very different ideas about what my day-to-day life would be. Maybe it looks more glamorous on the internet. Working on a Matthew Lillard film! Filming in the desert outside LA! Lunch with David & Karen! Drinks with Wonder Russell! Hobnobbing with KingisaFink!

It’s kind of a grind, though.

Maybe it was the 8 hour drive on the first day. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t eaten in a day and a half when I picked Victoria up. Or maybe it was the 6 different steps it took to save $10 on a hotel room, culminating with sitting outside a McDonald’s in a small town in Oregon, stealing their wifi. But somewhere in the first day, she came to the conclusion that it was pretty ridiculous.

So she put this on her back. I gave her a list of people to contact and she did the rest. It took Marty Lang about 5 seconds to get on board. Sean Hackett too. I was there for those parts. And then I went back to work, counting on karma and a film community I’d managed to help as much as I could to make sure I didn’t get stranded in Iowa with $3 in my pocket.

Everyone involved did a fantastic job. I’m more or less blown away by the response. I’ve gotten a few messages from Gregory Bayne commenting on how the campaign is a testament to the impact of AYWR. I think it’s a testament to the collective power of a community of people who’ve decided to take matters into their own hands.

Speaking of which, Mr. Bayne has a Kickstarter campaign running for his newest project. I know he’d really appreciate your support.

Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.