Tallmadge -- A small group of creative types with ties to Hollywood is one step closer to making an independent film.
Steven Marten, a 1986 Tallmadge High School graduate who went by the name of Steven Martin while living here, led the group in its endeavor to set the initial steps of the film project in motion by raising money online to fund a limited edition picture book called "Kloon" that they hope to turn into a film.
The group consists of Marten, who has a background in development of music videos, TV shows, movies, video games, and a Broadway play; co-writer Alexis Nolent; painter Felipe Echevarria; and Antoine de Cazotte, executive producer of the 2012 Oscar winning film "The Artist."
Knowing funding to develop an independent film would be challenging to get, the group took their fundraising campaign for the book project to Kickstarter, a website that has become popular with authors, filmmakers, musicians and other artists who try to raise money for their projects. If a project doesn't raise enough money through donations by the specified deadline, the creators of a project don't get any of the pledged money.
The fictional story of "Kloon" is set in 19th century Paris. A secret society of clowns that also double as thieves recruit a mute boy from a workhouse with the promise the clowns will find him a family. The boy eventually runs off with a female street performer, and, with the help of the same clowns, founds the city's first true circus.
"Kloon" is the phonetic spelling of the french word for "clown."
The fundraising for the group's $33,000 goal was reached close to the 11 p.m. deadline on Aug. 12. Those who pledged money earned different versions of the book and affiliated projects, depending on how much money was donated.
"With two days to go, we had only a third of the money raised. It was really disheartening," Marten said.
He heard from some people that the group didn't earn a lot of donations at first because they appeared "too capable" and "too connected" in Hollywood.
"Not sure people realized that this was a truly independent effort to build a small business that could possibly finance the early stages of a film," he said.
The last pledger to commit came through very close to the deadline.
"It couldn't have had a more dramatic finish. He called me with 11 minutes left and literally had me hold the line while he logged into the website," Marten said. "As good as his intentions were, his Internet was down. By the time he'd solved the technical wonkiness, we had all eaten our nails down to the nub."
Donations for the book totaled at about $37,000.
The book is on schedule to be completed by the end of the year and copies will be for sale to the public on Amazon in January.
"If sales go well, we'll put together another campaign -- maybe Kickstarter, although the thought of that right now slightly nauseates me -- to help push the film development along," Marten said.
The group plans to use the book as a conversation starter with the right people in Hollywood with the hope of landing investors for the film.
While the creators of "Kloon" have reached their fundraising goal for the book project, they're still looking for children, families and pets who would like to be painted into a scene in it. Contact the creators at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested. To learn more about the book and film projects, visit Kickstarter.com and search for "Kloon," or visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/486483079/kloon?ref=live.
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Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.