If you read Hello Giggles obsessively and daily (you do, right?), then you may have noticed a surge of love on the site lately for Taika Waititi and his film, Boy. Taika is a Kiwi filmmaker (Kiwi means he’s from New Zealand – I know things like that because other people tell me facts and I sometimes don’t forget them). Taika has also been a great friend of mine for years now, ever since he workshopped his film Eagle vs. Shark at the Sundance summer filmmaking labs and I took any excuse to hang out on his set I could find, just so I could watch him work. He’s truly an impressively brilliant and unique filmmaker. He wrote and directed Eagle vs. Shark, wrote, directed and acted in Boy, though you may know him better as that dude who directed some Flight of the Concords episodes.
And so I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to talk to Taika about this Kickstarter project he’s doing with Boy and share it with Hello Giggles? After all, it’s not every day a filmmaker decides to take distribution into their own hands! Enjoy this brief conversation I had with him yesterday, and then go fund his kickstarter project to damn the big blockbuster man!
I like the idea of putting power and decision back into the hands of the people. Film is a medium where you are very much at the mercy of the audience, most decisions you make are to do with trying to please them. I like that this can even spread to the financing or distribution of a film. Most people are into the idea of supporting independent film and self-distribution. Kickstarter seems to be the best place to really encourage that support because people know what they are getting.
We are officially releasing the film, by ourselves, in the US. The main reason is that a film like this (ie; original) is very hard to sell in a territory like America, especially during times of economic struggle. They can’t sell films about poor people from New Zealand to poor people from America. The punter is spending $12 at the cinema so it’s easier to offer them a trip to Avatar land.
This Kickstarter thing is to raise $$ for our P&A (prints & advertising), and to get it in more cities through the states. The more money, the more cities, the more people get to see it. Yes, Boy is NZ’s highest grossing film but that doesn’t really mean anything. As with most distribution models the NZ release saw 95% of profits and tickets go directly to the cinemas, investors, and companies who released the film. They believed in releasing the film in NZ, but were too scared to take it to a big market like the US. So, we decided to self-distribute and cut out those who basically do nothing except design a poster and take a big cut.
This way the profits come back to the people who actually made the film, the artists. It’s harder, and you have to ask for help, but it gives you more freedom and feels better.
How long have you been working on this film?
I finished the film about 2 years ago and it has already been released in a bunch of places. In total, the time this thing has been hanging around me, including the writing phase, has been about 6 years.
What about film has inspired you to choose it as your storytelling medium over others?
I’ve always worked in a variety of mediums, I started out as a painter and moved through photography and theatre and comedy and music and acting and writing until finally I fell into film. I see it as the perfect medium for someone who can’t decide on a single artistic outlet. It encompasses all the things I’m interested in and means I get to dabble in these outlets whilst also remaining the boss. Wielding power like that is kind of like being a god.
As if Taika weren’t charming enough, the prizes offered as you move up the tier of pledge amounts on the Kickstarter page had me in stitches, laughing. They’re a great read. Now go to Kickstarter and support real indie film!
Come on. Can you really say no to us when we’re so adorable?
No. You can’t. Especially not after I posted a photo of myself making such a weird face. Seriously, what am I doing? You can see my friend Brian in the background looking up like his what-is-your-face-doing-girl alarm just went off.