Making ‘SWALLOW’ — Entry #3



“And now for something completely different.”
— Monty Python’s Flying Circus

The first entry of “Making ‘SWALLOW’” was more or less an introductory piece. With the second entry, I was privileged to share with you my thoughts on inspiration and detail the different steps of my writing process. And as I continue to wear several different hats on three separate active feature films, it only seemed fitting to follow the creative & inspired writing phase with a little reality … funding.

You finally finished your script and feel that it is time to make it into a film! As an independent filmmaker, I find the financing side of filmmaking to be the most difficult. I have several projects that are “ready to shoot,” but require budgets much larger than the more attainable micro-budgeted films we’ve made. I know I’m ready, so now … if only someone would write us a giant check and invest in our film, we could pursue all of our wildest filmmaking dreams! But the reality is that studios aren’t the only ones shying away from investing in films that take risks. Independent thought should be cultivated and nurtured; however, risk and art aren’t necessarily a safe bet these days. What else can we do? What could we do that would not only lower our need for a large return on investment, but also build an audience and a loyal following of supporters? The answer is, we have to DO IT WITH OTHERS (DIWO) and with our film, it starts with only TWO DOLLARS!

CROWDFUNDING is just one of the new DIWO tools that filmmakers are finally utilizing to help fund their projects. Sites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter allow you the fans, our friends, and other enthusiasts to donate and support a project in exchange for a perk or gift and the bragging rights to say that you were involved in the making of that film. Now we aren’t just limiting ourselves to traditional investors, we are involving the people, the fans that will follow our film from beginning to end. Our perks for ‘Swallow’ range from a credit in the feature film to a one of a kind personal portrait painting by me, from an autographed soundtrack to a walk-on role in the film. We want to involve you because we NEED you! If you haven’t read it yet, check out this wonderful article by Gary King on Crowdfunding. He describes the DIWO resource in much greater detail.

Now don’t get us wrong, we are still approaching traditional investors with a limited number of ownership units available; however, we want to maximize the production value of the film by utilizing every tool possible to raise that value. The crowdfunding and IndieGoGo funds are allocated to separate departments not covered in the basic budget. We want to be able to sign on a name actor or two. In order to do this, we need our supplemental funding to be successful. We also look at this as an exciting and creative way to find and connect with our audience and supporters as early on as possible. NOT YOU OR ME … but WE will be the reason this film gets made to its fullest potential.

So with this in mind, please check out our IndieGoGo sites for “SWALLOW,” “The Other Side of Paradise” and “3 Thumbs Up.” Seek out other films and projects that intrigue you and could definitely use your support. This is a collaborative opportunity for all of us and we can take it on ourselves to cultivate and nurture ambitious artists and business owners out there that we are personally attached to or just feel like they could use the support.

With “SWALLOW,” we are asking everyone to donate just TWO DOLLARS (of course more, if you feel inclined or like the perks, but at least $2 – just one day without a coke or a coffee will help us fulfill our dreams). If we get at least 5,000 people to donate $2 (or reach the halfway point of our goal), we will give you a digital copy of the highly acclaimed soundtrack to “The Other Side of Paradise” (now available on ITunes for $9.99 — check it out and give it a listen). If 10,000 people donate $2 (or we reach our full goal), then we will give you the digital copy of the album and a digital copy of our first feature film “Wednesday.” And if none of that tickles your fancy, then please consider donating $2 just out of good spirits and support. We need your help. WE NEED YOUR TWO DOLLARS TO HELP US MAKE “SWALLOW.” Thank you for your support!

Thanks again for reading and be sure to check out our facebook fan page for “SWALLOW.” I want to hear your suggestions on topics to discuss! I’ll be back next week with some updates and a subject leaning more to the creative side of filmmaking. Thanks!

. . .

“Making SWALLOW” — a weekly column exclusive to It’s Just Movies — is following the film from pre-production through distribution.

Justin D. Hilliard is a writer/director/producer and co-founder of Striped Socks Productions. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington and received his BFA in Film – Cum Laude in 2004. His previous films are “The Other Side of Paradise,” “3 Thumbs Up Doc” and “Wednesday.”

14 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. 1

    I couldn’t stop cracking up! This is such a great idea! It really empowers the audience.

  2. Alison #

    I totally agree with Arianne. Being a true fan isn’t just about ordering tickets before going to the theater. To fully show your support you have to help get the film seen either by word of mouth or by doing this…donations. GOOD LUCK

  3. 3

    I love the integration of the public! I was just talking yesterday about how much the film industry is a collaborative effort! Thanks, Justin, for giving us this opportunity. There is a sense of pride to see one of your ‘babies’ created. With this, we can all feel that pride of accomplishment.

  4. Janet #

    I just found out about this series. Very nice. Looking forward to future installments.

  5. Mo GB #

    The only problem is that there are a lot of film makers who want (and need) funding. $2 here and $2 there really adds up. How can I support one film maker and not another?

  6. 6

    Thanks all!
    And to ‘Mo GB’…That’s the fun of it, it’s all discretionary, not mandatory…which explains why IndieGoGo refers to their site as a ‘filmocracy’. Everyone has their own choice of which films to help or even the choice not to help at all. It’s up to us individually to decide the projects we want to back…then if we do, the project is collaboratively made with others. For people that feel like helping or are passionate about a project getting made, then it is a very cool site to utilize if you have a couple extra bucks you want to throw at a project. Also, there are other ways outside of cash to help a project…if you like a project, but are tight on cash, then just repost/retweet/etc. to your friends the details about it. That’s also incredibly useful. Thanks for reading!

  7. RyanH #

    This is a great issue and what a clever way to go about saying it… Making movies takes money, it’s the simple truth… As an independent you have to work with less than a studio to make your vision happen… The good independents have to be passionate to make something of quality… and as an audience, we should want to empower those independents out there to keep pushing the quality content. Without independents making art, what is left isn’t really what is wanted in a cultural sense. Most trends and new waves come from the outsiders and independents… let’s show some support… and it’s only two bucks 😉

  8. 8

    Wow – check this out!
    Have you heard about Ken Mora’s @Bellafefilms SWALLOW CHALLENGE DONATION? He will donate $1,000 if we reach our Sunday #Indiegogo goal of 2K – Visit for more details!

  9. Mo GB #

    I understand it’s not mandatory. I’m sure it’s just my own guilty conscience. I just feel bad that I can’t support everyone, so I end up supporting no one. It’s like, if I give you $2, but I don’t give $2 to another film maker, I feel like I am not supporting that person’s art. That I am making a statement that they are not as worthy of making a movie, in my eyes, as you are. Hopefully that makes sense.

  10. 10

    Totally makes sense…there are several projects I wish I had the extra cash to give a donation to…& believe me, with a lot of fellow filmmaker friends, the more that adopt this resource, the less I’ll be able to financially support…so, when that happens, I will at least help them get the word out there 🙂
    But when I can financially swing it, I will!

  11. Jen #

    Hey — I say do whatever it takes to get your movie made (legally, anyway).
    Really enjoying the series by the way.

  12. Don #

    I am loving this series too.

  13. Mo GB #

    If I won the lottery, I would help out a lot of independent film makers.

  14. smokey the bandit #

    Very good!