Chicago Production Could Be a ‘Hometown Hero’ Thanks to Seed & Spark

An independent filmmaker committed to seeing their movie get made will likely, at some point, turn to crowdfunding to make it happen. Services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo provide a platform to accept donations from well-meaning fans, provide rewards and recognition for those donations and, most importantly, create a community who follow the progress of the film and want to see it when it's completed. Of the myriad crowdfunding options out there, none is quite so tailored to the needs of filmmakers specifically like Seed & Spark. The site was founded with the intention of marrying the high ideals of artists with the necessities of the business of moviemaking. Catering exclusively to film projects (other sites allow for any kind of product or service), the site uses a tried and true formula to help filmmakers build a community around their stories. This month, Seed & Spark launched a new campaign that focuses on films being made, figuratively, in backyards across the country. Launched on September 12, Hometown Heroes Crowdfunding Rally was created specifically to recognize filmmakers making their projects with the talent and resources in their own neighborhoods, proving that in 2017, movies can be made anywhere. Entries hail from 66 cities across the country, and they're competing for a sweet top prize: adding The Duplass Brothers (Mark and Jay, of Safety Not Guaranteed, The Skeleton Twins, Tangerine and more) as executive producers on their movie. Of all the films competing for a chance to pitch the brothers (the top 10 become finalists), just one is a Chicago-based production. It's called Heist School, and its written and will be directed by the duo Caleb Noel and Dom Udell, who apparently met when a Craigslist ad for a roommate brought them together. Their campaign has a goal of raising $10,000 for everything from lighting and sound to makeup and craft services, and they've got until October 13 to do it. That day, the top ten projects, defined by the number of followers they amass and their donations, will go on to be considered for the top prize, of which there may be as many as five chosen. They'll win the production support plus a 16TB hard drive and a Canon 4k Cine Rental Package valued at $25,000. There are a couple other projects repping Illinois in the mix, one from suburban Sycamore and another from downstate Urbana. The fact that there's only one from Chicago, however, is perhaps more a badge of honor than anything; fellow big cities like New York and LA only have two projects each. Heist School is the story of Liam Kendryek, a high school senior who's got the test scores to get into college but not the GPA. With a principal out to get him, he's got a small window of time to make a change, and he'll enlist a motley crew to help him do it. An homage to the caper flicks of the 1960s, at the time of writing it's at just 10% funded. Watch a pitch for the film below, learn more about it and the Hometown Heroes Crowdfunding Rally here.
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Lisa Trifone