How War Makes Heroes







War stories about making films and getting them seen; we all have them and we all love to drink and talk about them. Now you can add crowdfunding to the list of battles we endure to get a project made. Hi, I’m Brett Butler, my brother Jason and I are filmmakers.

Over a decade of filmmaking, over a decade of pounding it out by any means possible has left us with 4 feature films, a web-series and still delivering pizza to pay the bills.

So when it came to starting our latest project we found ourselves writing characters who were banging their heads on the glass ceiling and failing to prosper no matter what approach they took – heavy stuff to be sure, and something we weren’t ready to deal with on a serious level.

And so was the birth of The Undrawn.

Superheroes working bottom-feeding jobs at SuperCorp, heroes with questionable powers, morals and ethics, superheroes who no matter how hard they try will never end up drawn in the next Marvel comic. Super spermers, cannonball bellied boozecans, ass-grabbing seers of the future, dimwitted mindreaders – these were the powers of our heroes, they are going nowhere and are being led there by the most sincerely inept boss in the business.

We felt very passionate about the concept from the start and knew we wanted to do it uncensored and uncompromised – so throw getting grants out the window!

We also wanted to do something bigger, better, funnier and more twisted than any of our previous work, so we needed to find real funding. We had built a minor cult following with our previous work and figured this to be an ideal time to jump into the crowdfunding game.

Standing out on Kickstarter is hard, we knew that from the start, so instead of just doing a pitch video (oh we did that as well, oh we did that!) we decided to hit the streets and deliver pizza at an Olympic record style pace – turns out this is a disturbingly competitive field, if you didn’t know. We did this to create a Kickstarter campaign that “shows not tells.”

We cast, shot and funded intro teasers for each main character as well as an episode “Superteaser” to get our hooks into people. We really wanted to give any potential backer a complete feel for this warped world of The Undrawn. We didn’t want anybody who came across our campaign to leave the “pitch meeting” with any questions. And that’s exactly what it is – a one month pitch meeting.

Getting all that assembled was a lot of fun and hard work with a helluva a lot of favors called in. We managed to pull together a cast and team that went above and beyond to support the vision and passion of the project on a very limited budget.

It was a good start to the pitching process too.  Everything had to be done on the cheap so everyone had to fully believe in the project to get involved because they weren’t really getting paid. So from the get-go we were pitching directors, editors, special effects people, sound designers, locations, costume designers, etc. We had to sell our project a million times over just to get to the point of pitching it on Kickstarter. The evolution to crowdfunding is a natural for filmmakers – now we can pitch to everybody!

We signed on Jeffrey P. Nesker, a talented and highly regarded Toronto director, a killer cast and crew and Lucas McNelly as Executive Producer – Someone we admired and knew from years previous when he screened our film Confusions of an Unmarried Couple as part of his Indies for Indies series. We knew from meeting him and following his career since then that he was cut from the same cloth as us in terms of getting things done by any means necessary.

A month ago we blasted off with a full blown kegger and screening party for the teasers at a local theatre. Now we sit/stand/pace with just days remaining in the Kickstarter campaign and our fingers raw from constant emailing and postering, throats coarse and mouths parched from working the phones non-stop and thirsty as hell for that first beer after its all done, it has been a helluva ride! (1 fried keyboard, 1 dead mouse and 1 chipped tooth later).

Your closest friend since birth, that cellmate you spent 3 years doing hard time with, hell even your wife, they all ignore you…but that person you met once outside that bar pledges $500 and shares the project with everyone they ever met and you’re back in business! There is a constant repetition of ups and downs that puts your esteem in constant flux, but through it all we’ve heard nothing but awesome feedback of the work, and that keeps you going in the midnight hour. When it comes to an 840 hour pitch meeting you need regular intervals of that buzz – that or start a new Kickstarter campaign for few kilos of cocaine.

I remember talking to Lucas in the beginning, a successful Kickstarter campaigner many times over, and he warned us how hard it was going to be and he wanted to make sure we were ready for the grind. Well nothing can prepare you for the mental and physical drain of it all but if you can’t get through this, then you aren’t ready to make a film. We have been doing this for 10 years and aren’t stopping now, we are the grind.

It is fitting that our crowdfunding campaign is ending at the beginning of the baseball season; because all the hard work to get this funded is really just spring training. Actually shooting it is the long, hard and fun as hell journey of the regular season. And getting it out there, getting it on screens and in the spotlight, that’s playoff time baby!

Check out our warped, twisted, deviant and funny as hell heroes. You probably have more in common with them than you think! Funding ends this Friday the 13th at midnight.

And another war story will be put in the repertoire….

Check out the campaign here.


Formed in 2003, Substance Production (SubProd) is the cocked and loaded offspring of maverick producers and brothers, Brett and Jason Butler. Based out of Toronto, SubProd is an independent production company dedicated to creating exciting and original content for film, television and the web. With multiple award-winning feature films (The Notorious Newman Brothers, Confusions of an Unmarried Couple etc.), critically acclaimed web series’ along with several TV pilots currently in development, SubProd is poised to unleash a new and fearless form of entertainment into households worldwide.

Creating original, exciting and entertaining productions is what we do. Not only can SubProd produce a film or TV pilot from the ground up, we can take your idea/concept and help enhance it so you’re ready to pitch your script or take it to the next level on your own. How much you want SubProd to Enhance Your Entertainment is up to you.

“Mark these words: If the Butler Bros. (Jason & Brett) don’t implode, explode or just plain plode, then I fearlessly predict you’re going to be seeing a lot more from these cinematic siblings from Canada’s Big Smoke.” 

– Rick McGrath, Culture Court

The Butler Brothers have enjoyed global success, including: Australia, Wales, South Africa, England and the USA, along with many stops in between. Critically acclaimed as “two of the strongest voices in indie film” (Dan Stasiewski, The Film Chair), the Butlers will continue to create and develop great entertainment with an independent twist.

Check out The Butler Brother’s prior Film Courage Post Here!