This month on Kickstarter, you can help independent filmmakers explore a far-away Japanese island full of cats, bring a historically important documentary to a bigger audience, and turn an old movie about Frankenstein into something totally new. Also looking for help: A hand-sculpted animated short, and a feature comedy about the dreaded raccoon flu. Here are 5 promising projects that could use your funding right now — and which will give you some sweet rewards in return.
Director’s Commentary: Terror of Frankenstein by Rodney Ascher and Tim Kirk
In this fascinating project, Room 237 director Ascher and producer Kirk are taking an existing film – 1977’s The Terror of Frankenstein – and recording a new, largely fictional, director’s commentary that is a horror story unto itself. To further blur the lines between reality and fiction, the “commentary” features the actual star of Terror of Frankenstein, frequent Stanley Kubrick collaborator Leon Vitali.
Kickstarter Goal: $15,000 by April 30
Sample Reward: For $50, Ascher and Kirk will send you a signed DVD/Blu-Ray of Room 237, which featured fringe interpretations of the movie The Shining.
Cold War by J. Wilder Konschak, Stirling McLaughlin and Alli Hartley
In this dark, offbeat romantic comedy, a young couple’s love is put to the test when they both come down with a horrible flu. Full disclosure: the filmmakers are friends of mine. But you don’t have to take my word that they’re funny, as they road-tested their Cold War idea with the short film Positive Visualization, featuring stars Madeline Walter and Rene Gube, which you can watch here.
Kickstarter Goal: $30,000 by May 16
Sample Reward: Rewards are outlined on this handy pain chart, and include custom hand sanitizer and puke buckets (for donations of $200 or $675, respectively).
Cat Heaven Island by Landon Donoho
Did you know there’s a remote island in north-east Japan where cats outnumber humans four to one? This documentary offers an up-close look at Tashirojima, home not only to hundreds of cats, but to a vanishing Japanese culture of fishermen, temples, and the occasional cat-shaped hotel.
Kickstarter Goal: $25,000 by May 10
Sample Reward: For $300, Donoho will give you a unique souvenir from the hard-to-reach island. For $180, he’ll take you out for sushi.
Sylvia by Meirav Haber
Sculptor and filmmaker Haber creates miniature worlds of grotesque beauty using stop-motion animation. Her Kickstarter-funded short Stan was a hit at film festivals last year (watch it here), and she’s following it up with Sylvia, about a young girl whose imaginary friends help her through a tough time.
Kickstarter Goal: $10,000 by June 9
Sample Reward: Give $300 and Haber will sculpt a custom miniature portrait of you or a loved one, which will appear as part of the set in the finished film.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution by Stanley Nelson
The first major documentary about the Black Panther Party premiered at Sundance and airs next year on PBS. So why the Kickstarter? Nelson, who worked for seven years on this film, wants to make sure it’s seen by “diverse audiences — folks who might not attend film festivals or watch PBS.” To that end, he’s seeking to fund a fall theatrical release in at least 13 cities, including Oakland, Baltimore, and Atlanta.
Kickstarter Goal: $50,000 by May 6
Sample Reward: For $50, you get two tickets to one of the film’s theatrical premieres, along with the opportunity to meet Nelson (whose previous docs include Jonestown: The Life of Death of People’s Temple and Freedom Riders).