Author Archives: paul

Kickstarter Thoughts #1

Posted by Paul Devlin:

As I take my Kickstarter campaign out into the world, I have encountered what may be a fairly common sentiment among filmmakers regarding crowdfunding.  It’s paraphrased here:

“Hey your Kickstarter looks great!  Here’s the problem: I get asked so often to join crowd-funding campaigns that I have made it a policy not to back any. But I wish you the best of luck with your project!”

Here is my open response to that response:

I understand that point of view completely! In fact that was my policy exactly for the longest time.

Until of course, I started my own Kickstarter campaign…

Now, I have a new appreciation for what a nervy, risky undertaking crowdfunding is. Not only is the life of the project at stake, but so is one’s self-esteem. As filmmaker Allison Berg says, “It’s like losing a popularity contest every day.” The “ask” is so difficult – who wants to hassle family, friends and colleagues for money? And then what message does it send if the campaign ultimately fails? I have great respect for anyone who makes a serious effort. So I have dropped my rule and now evaluate crowdfunding requests I receive on their individual merits.

This is reinforced by the buzz at IFP Film Week a few days ago that crowdfunding for independents may have a limited window of effectiveness. Big players like Sony Pictures Classics and Disney are sniffing around crowdfunding as a potential tool to supplement their mega-marketing campaigns. Maybe there’s room for everyone. Or maybe independents will get crowded out of crowdfunding, as the whole world applies this policy to all but the loudest campaigns. It won’t be the first time artists get squeezed from the space we pioneered. So, I will embrace the moment while it lasts.

In the meantime, crowdfunding is rapidly becoming essential for independents. Not only is it the only funding option for many projects, but gatekeepers may soon be expecting it as the first step of a distribution strategy. They will be looking at the success of the campaign and the dollar figures, but also the number of backers. These will be used to evaluate the filmmaker’s social capital and the viability of his or her project. There may come a time when every independent film needs to start with a crowdfunding campaign.

As filmmakers, we may want to support the health of independent film generally by applying an alternative rule of thumb that increases backer numbers: Back every crowdfunding request with at least a single dollar.

So I encourage you to reconsider your policy and start your first crowdfunding campaign sooner rather than later.

What is your personal policy regarding requests to support crowdfunding? Are we approaching a point of saturation where filmmakers will start to withdraw from the funding process? Or will the necessity to create our own campaigns encourage us to back others more consistently?

The Front Man


Claire’s Legacy

Claire & Paul at Premiere of BLAST! - Hot Docs Film Festival, Toronto, 2008One year ago Claire Missanelli died after a long struggle with breast cancer. She was my friend and producing partner. We were in touch with each other almost every day for 10 years, while we worked together on our movies.

It has been difficult to adjust to her absence, both professionally and personally. Making independent films has never been easy, but it has been so much harder without her.

Claire left a magnificent legacy – her work continues to entertain and to educate audiences, and our next film will carry her name as well. I know she would love it, and be delighted that it is finally nearing completion.

I miss you, Claire. Next week, I’ll meet with some of our friends near your home to celebrate your life. Your spirit and wisdom will inspire us as we continue to create.


Posted by Paul Devlin:

The Balloon is inflating and there’s no turning back! NASA and my brother Mark’s science team are going to re-launch BLAST in a few hours from McMurdo Station Antarctica

See it happen live on NASA’s Real Time Video and then use the Payload Tracking to follow BLAST’s flight path around the South Pole!   



Inside Hong Kong

Posted by Paul Devlin

This was my first professional video editing job, a segment from a movie made for the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

After graduating University of Michigan, I left the U.S. for two years. Lived in Paris, hitchhiked around Europe, then traveled across Asia. I would up in Hong Kong where my cousin Vince Sherry, was an anchorman for the local English-language TV news. I had run out of money so I crashed at his place, and he helped me find an editing job at a small company run by Americans called Take Two. I became good friends with the owner John San Miguel, cinematographer Justin Keen and photographer Douglas Carver. That video editing skill definitely came in handy, no matter where I traveled!

Fat Boys – “Whip It on Me”

Posted by Paul Devlin

I edited this video directed by Scot J. Mathisson. Scot and I worked on a few music videos together back in the day at Chromavision. I had a chance to meet Darren Robinson (a.k.a Buff Love) and he was very no-nonsense about the work and his career. The Fat Boys had a lot at stake and were hoping to make a comeback with this video.

Slam Poem – muMs da Schemer – Roach Motel

Posted by Paul Devlin

My father once asked me what muMs was saying with the line, “That illy ill shit, keep the mental in check.” After I tried to translate he responded, “Oh, I see, he’s speaking a different language.” Of course – it’s cockroach poetry! Perhaps the ultimate persona poem, muMs’ performance from the point of view of a cockroach doubles as biting social commentary. A brilliant example of the unique work that has emerged from slam poetry.

SlamNation DVD

 SlamNation Trailer