Freestyle – “Akim Funk Buddha” (14 of 14)

Posted by Paul Devlin:

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An eclectic artist, Akim Funk Buddha, gets the last word in the movie Freestyle, summing up the spirit of the movement – with a freestyle, of course.

The Making of Freestyle (continued)

I had negotiated that the end of my time on Freestyle would be after the Slamdance Premiere. I knew that Kevin would have difficulty finally finishing the project, and would always want to continue tweaking, but I needed a definitive end, so I could move on to my next movie, Power Trip. I kept in touch as the team had difficulty cutting a sales deal. They now had many good sales offers, including significant advances from distributors. However, the music and footage rights had not yet been cleared, and that cost would have eaten up the advance. Since these were all-rights deals there would have been no money left for the filmmakers. So Freestyle remained stalled in this conundrum for several years. It seemed like the movie might never get released.

Then, while pitching my next film Power Trip at the IFP Market in New York, I met a lawyer who was very interested in working with me. But Power Trip was not his style. He wanted something more like SlamNation. So I showed him clips of Freestyle. He loved it and used his contacts at VH1 to get us a deal. Kevin resisted at first because VH1 would completely re-cut the movie for their purposes. But we convinced Kevin that it was the only way to release Freestyle from its shackles: VH1 paid for all the clearances, but only took U.S. Broadcast rights. That left Kevin with rights to distribute our version of the movie on DVD, in theaters and internationally. Eventually he signed a deal with Palm Pictures to release the movie.

Of course when money gets involved, things get tricky, especially when everyone has been working on deferred salaries. Not my first canoe trip, so I was prepared with some leverage in my back pocket. So I got paid (that’s a whole different story to tell sometime), but I’m not sure about everyone else, and I know there were some hard feelings floating around.

Kevin Fitzgerald took Freestyle all over the world, and Henry-Alex Rubin went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for Murderball. But since then I’ve completely lost touch with them, and haven’t been able to track them down, even in the new world of facebook and twitter. So, I’m sending out the word to Kevin and Henry-Alex to get in touch someday!

Check out Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme
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