indiegogo.png
20140722065018-Orgy_Poster.png
indiegogo.png

Funding an Orgy: Filmmaker Jeremy LaLonde Talks With Culture Toronto


SCROLL DOWN

Funding an Orgy: Filmmaker Jeremy LaLonde Talks With Culture Toronto


By Kiersten Hallie Krum

As writer, director, and producer, Canadian independent filmmaker Jeremy LaLonde wears all the hats—including a stylish fedora. Now in the last week of the crowd-sourcing campaign for his latest comedy feature, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, Mr. LaLonde took the time to talk about funding a film, popping up with perks, and inviting actors to join in an orgy.

Let the antics begin.

Let the antics begin.

Kiersten Hallie Krum: Congratulations on reaching your initial fundraising goal for How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town! Time for an orgy! Did you expect it to happen fast? Does it feel like it happened fast?

Jeremy LaLonde: It was always our hope to hit our stretch goals for the campaign. A lot of people fail at crowd funding because I think that they post their campaign and expect it to just work out. When I do a crowd-funding campaign I plan the entire roll-out, week-by-week, day-by-day, to make sure we’ve always got new and fun things to talk about, to keep it fresh and to keep people engaged. I ran into someone who’s getting their campaign ready and when they were looking at ours they said, “Man—that looks like a lot of work.” I don’t know what he expected. A lot of people look at crowd funding as free money—but it’s not at all. If you’re doing it properly you’re working hard for it. But as I stated in our initial campaign video, our real goal was always $100K, and we’re not there just yet, so we’ve hit the campaign goal for the minimum we need, but we’re just approaching what my expectations were.

KHK: The end date to your crowd-sourcing campaign is fast approaching. Anything you wished you did differently? Anything that surprised you?

JLL: I think that there’s some consensus that we could have charged more for some of our more unique perks—but you never know about those things and I like to stay on the side of not seeming overly greedy. I think I was shocked mostly by the people who give very generously and don’t ask for perks in return, they just want to give to a project and people that they believe in. We’re very happy for the amount of support we’ve got and the fact that we’ve got a team of people along with us for the ride. It’s crucial for the success of an indie film.

KHK: This is your second crowd-sourced film. What did you learn from funding Sex After Kids, good or bad, that you directly applied to the How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town campaign? This time around, you have set stretch goals. What made you decide to include them for this campaign? 

JLL: Crowd funding has changed dramatically since my first campaign and stretch-goals are part of the common vernacular. Most campaigns have them at this point. We set our actual goal at the absolute minimum we needed to trigger our other funding and make sure the film gets made, but the hope is always to exceed your goal—there’s no shortage of places where money can help on a film production.

KHK: You wrote a Huffington Post article about crowd funding in which you talk about the medium from both sides as an investor and as a filmmaker in search of funding. You wrote “It’s a crucial part of the human experience to want to be involved in something greater than yourself. You’re helping to make someone’s dream come true and you get to come along for the ride.” As the filmmaker, do you feel a great responsibility to live up to that for your investors, to make your dream worth the investment?

JLL: I feel very strongly that film is one of the mediums where you have a responsibility to your audience regardless. Even on an indie level budget, films aren’t cheap—they're costly and time consuming. From the time that I started writing this script to the time that the film is properly released this film will take up years of my life—so I’m going to make the best film I can. People who are supporting Orgy are here, partly, because they saw what we did with Sex After Kids. I’d like to think I’ve proven myself to some degree, but there’s pressures all around. Every time you step up to bat you hope for the best.

KHK: From Veronica Mars to Reading Rainbow, crowdsourcing has become the watchword for projects that lack or prefer not to seek corporate funding. While you’ve written that crowdsourcing is here to stay and a viable tool for financing art, is there a danger of “fans” getting tired of funding? 

JLL: I feel like there was a time between my first campaign and this one where there’s what I call “crowd-funding fatigue” where everyone and their brother was doing a campaign because, again, it looked like easy money. I think that’s gone away a bit. I think it was a bit touch and go for a little bit there—but now I firmly believe that crowd funding has a stable footing. It’s not going anywhere the same way that renting a film on iTunes isn’t going anywhere. It’s here and it’s here to stay. The trick, as always, is that as a content creator you’ve got to find a way to separate yourself from the crowd and stand out. I think people will get tired of being begged for their money—but that’s the wrong way for people to approach contributors anyway. I don’t think anyone will ever get tired of getting a chance of getting involved with something they think is awesome. There’s more campaigns out there than people can realistically support financially—but that’s the same with anything. I can’t afford to buy every Blu-ray that’s released each week - so I buy the ones that *I* want. It’s a personalized thing. 

KHK: You’ve frequently encouraged people who can’t afford to contribute (and those who can) to support How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town through social media. In fact, you’ve offered a perk incentive for whomever has promoted it the most by the end of the fund-raising timeframe. That’s some savvy grassroots marketing there. Clearly you think social media is an important component for such a campaign.

JLL: Well, it’s crowd funding—so you need a crowd and social media is the best gateway to a crowd larger than your immediate circle of friends and family. I don’t think you meant this in your question, but we’ve never asked people to spend outside of their means—but yes, one way to contribute is to spread the word, which doesn’t cost people more than their time. The referral contest is another mainstay in a lot of crowd-funding campaigns. It’s a nice way to reward someone for going above and beyond and reaching out to their groups. I have a great respect for social media—as an independent filmmaker who doesn’t have access to massive marketing budgets I rely on word of mouth. I count myself very lucky to be making films at a time where we have the means and the tools to connect directly to our audience. I’m making films and telling stories for you guys to see and enjoy. Knowing how you react to them helps me to grow as a filmmaker.

KHK: Your campaign updates have been consistent and, dare I say constant. The videos with the cast, on the street guerilla interviews, and Face Your Fears challenges have been particularly entertaining and effective. You even shaved your beard as a goal incentive! How game has everyone been to be a part of these updates? How outrageous a challenge would you accept? Do you worry about oversaturation or is there no such thing when running a crowd-sourcing campaign?

JLL: The most annoying thing in the world is for someone to say the same thing to you over and over and over and over again. A campaign is a marathon and you can’t just keep telling people to go to your campaign page over and over again. You need to deliver new content, new reasons to check in. You’ve got to find ways to get people engaged and keep them engaged. I’m sure there’s some people that get sick of it—but those people don’t have to check out our stuff and likely were never that interested in getting involved in the first place. 

All of our cast was really game to get involved in the campaign. I don’t like asking anyone to do anything that they aren’t comfortable with but these are all wonderful people who have given up their time because this is a film that they’re really excited to be a part of. They’re excited to interact with the audience as well. 

KHK: You have additional funding for How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town from Telefilm Canada. How much of a difference does this make for your production as compared to Sex After Kids? What has that support allowed you to do that couldn’t have happened with crowd-sourced funds alone? 

JLL: This would be easier for me to answer about a year from now. I mean, more money is always more helpful. It’s still a very low budget film. And Orgy is a much bigger film in many ways than Sex After Kids. We have a bigger cast, we have more locations, and we have some set pieces. Everything about it is bigger and that takes more time, more people, and with that more money. So I guess that it means we’re able to make a ‘bigger’ movie but we’ll still be calling in every favour we can.

KHK: Let’s talk about perks. In the HuffPo article, you said the value of a crowd-sourcing campaign lies in the insider experienced offered by the filmmakers. How do you determine which perks you offer to entice people to contribute? What’s the over/under on people who want to fund independent film and those who are in it for the perk of meeting favoured actors (for example) and does it really matter so long as they contribute?

JLL: I mean, the bottom line is that you’re crowd funding because you need funding. So in the end it doesn’t really matter why, but you hope that people are there for the film itself and will stick around as you go through the process. I think a lot of people came to my last film strictly because of the cast attached, but they followed along to the second one regardless of that. So it’s a little of both, but the hope is to have everyone really believe in the project. In terms of the perks…well if you’re making a film, you should probably offer a chance to see it. A lot of people don’t and that blows me away. You want to offer perks that make people involved, that’s the bottom line.

KHK: Some of your perks have allowed contributors to choose the names of characters and/or to choose the names of the books written by one of the characters. Is there any anxiety as the writer as to what they’re going to choose? Does in impact/influence any aspect of your process not knowing what you’re going to call this character or what this character’s novels are going to entail?

JLL: That’s why you include the (within reason) caveat. People are generally pretty good about it. For Sex After Kids we named the entire cast through a perk and I loved that. People did it as gifts, or to honour loved ones who have passed away. I think that’s much more meaningful than me pulling names randomly out of my head—which isn’t ALWAYS how I name characters—but it does happen that way sometimes. Again, that’s an example of a perk that really gets people involved in the film, literally.

KHK: This is your third feature film and your second sex comedy though all three films deal with romantic relationships. What makes you return to this genre? Is it cathartic for you to deal with relevant themes to your own life? 

JLL: It just kind of happened that way. I’ve always got a series of projects in various stages of development. Orgy seemed to be the one at the right budget level for what it seemed like I could raise for my next film. I don’t want to be pegged as the ‘sex comedy’ guy, but I can’t control that. Thematically, this film deals with stuff that’s important to me at this point in my life and so it’s the right time to make this film for a variety of reasons.

KHK: How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town is about a sex columnist who returns home to her small town and, presumably, hijinks ensue. From where did the idea for this small-town orgy them originate? Does the theme of coming home after having professional success resonate with you personally? 

JLL: I’m from a small town, and I’d been trying to find a way to tell a story about that world that felt honest from my experience, the inner workings, etc…and this just seemed to make sense, which likely says a lot about what’s going on in my head.

KHK: Both Sex After Kids and How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town have common themes of sex and awkwardness. I would guess there’s a lot of the second on set when filming the first. Have you taken anything away from Sex After Kids that you think will help you film those on- and off-screen awkward moments in How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town? 

JLL: I don’t know…I mean everything you do helps you towards whatever you do next—it’s all about the collective experience. Orgy is quite different from Sex After Kids in its sex scenes and the reasons they’re awkward. The bottom line is that sex scenes are never about sex, unless it’s a porno. Outside of potential nudity it’s the same as any other scene—you get to the heart of it and you work outwards from there.

KHK: You’ve assembled an impressive cast of Canadian actors for How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, some whom you’ve worked with before, some of whom are new to the LaLonde Company of Players. How did that pitch go: a la “would you like to have an orgy?” What’s been the response to the fact that you’re crowdsourcing a large portion of the film’s funding? 

JLL: “The LaLonde Company of Players.” Ha. That’s funny. I’ve been very fortunate to been able to work with a lot of talented actors and I get approached quite a bit by amazing actors letting me know that they’d love to do something together. Sadly there’s never enough parts for all the people you’d like to work with. That’s my current frustration anyway. One of the fun things about this film is HOW you pitch the film to people :) A lot of the people we approached were familiar with Sex After Kids, so they understand the general tone of my work and that it’s not just going to be an exploitative thing. Telefilm only contributes up to 49% of a film’s budget, so films ALWAYS have to find a source of financing. Usually you get a private investor on board. The cast had no issues with this and knew we’d be using them publicly. The beauty of doing a low-budget film is that the cast comes on because they love the project, there’s no ego here. I’m really excited and fortunate to be working with this group of people.

KHK: Sex After Kids rolled out over the course of a little more than two years from the start of the crowd-sourcing campaign to its DVD release. Do you anticipate a similar schedule for How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town? Do you plan to expand to more film festivals than you did with Sex After Kids?

JLL: Well, the general course of a film’s release is often longer than that even. It’s not a fast process. We’ll shoot the film this fall and have it ready to release for festivals this spring. Then we’ll likely spend about a year on the circuit and then have a wide release next summer or fall. I say that without any real idea of how it’ll go down. When it comes to festivals you’re at the mercy of whether or not programmers will schedule your film. We played at about a dozen festivals for Sex After Kids, which is pretty good actually. We submitted to a lot more, obviously. So that part is left up to The Fates, really. 

20140722065018-Orgy_Poster.png

fast and dirty


fast and dirty


What is your favourite curse word? Cunt.

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? Freeze time. Never enough hours in the day.

What’s a quirk that no one or only a few intimates know about? If such a quirk did exist and no one knew, why would I tell you?

What’s your Starbucks order? Venti bold black.

What’s your favourite children’s toy? Lego.

Peanut butter or Nutella? 100% peanuts peanut butter, not the kind that’s half icing sugar.

What’s your favourite alcoholic drink? Beer.

If you could give your 13-year-old self any advice, what would it be? Keep at it! Oh, and jog a little more.

Where is your favourite place on Earth? Wherever I am. Live in the moment!

Do you have a dream actor you’d like to cast in one of your movies? So many. And yet, I’ve been able to work with some people I’d consider ‘dream actors’. Damn… this is too hard… Sorry. Everyone - how’s that? Can I just work with every talented actor? Let’s make that happen.

Do you have a film you’d love to make but don’t think is yet viable? So many. I’ll get to them, don’t worry.

If you could do anything else, what would it be? There’s nothing else I’d want to do, but if I couldn’t do this for whatever reason, I think I’d be really happy playing music, or being a chef. At any rate I’m useless during the Zombie Apocalypse outside of boosting morale. 

 

Our thanks to Jeremy LaLonde for joining us today at Culture Toronto and congratulations for reaching his campaign stretch goal of $100,000 only days after this interview!

There’s still time left to join in the orgy with additional stretch goals and plenty of perks to be had. Visit the Indiegogo campaign website for How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town for more information.


comments powered by Disqus

more money more problems


more money more problems