Getting [Blue Ruin] funded was a gutsy success story – can you share how it come together for the readers? [PHOTO: (L-R) Key Grip Carlos Valdes-Lora, Saulnier, and 1st AC Ryan Dickie]
Jeremy Saulnier (DIRECTOR/WRITER): It has been stated Blue Ruin was never actually funded. There was no actual financing that was secured to green light the film. Its entirety is sort of hodgepodge and bit-by-bit. We failed to get traditional financing early on and we immediately retreated. Luckily, we had already anticipated that, because as a collective we’re proud of our body of work but no one has really ever come in to finance these things. We always had self-funding or going to friends and family. So knowing there’s no chance in Hell at making a movie past the summer of 2012 that was self-funded, because [actor Macon Blair] had a son on the way or a daughter. So we had this weird time where we couldn’t wait for people to come in or pitch to their people or this or that, we have to go either way, so as soon as we failed to get the million dollar budget, Plan B kicked in immediately, because there was this closing window of time.
Anyway, my wife put in her retirement account. She liquidated it completely. I followed suit. Then we did Kickstarter, to bridge the gap from where we were to where we had to be to fully fund just production and then payroll. So that was 160k to actually shoot Blue Ruin. With my credit card standing by, we ended up in more than six figures of debt on that, but there was no proper accounting going on. The movie has to be made: period. We were completely reckless about our approach to funding, and going all in and then some. I went in to negative net worth to get this thing done. The film had to be made period. We will clean up this mess down the line.
So we shot the movie after we sort of submitted to Sundance in 2013; we didn’t get in. We stopped, came to an abrupt halt, went back to our day jobs, saved up 5k to shoot the hospital scene. So we saved our money to just blow it. Then, during the spring of 2013, we decided to get back up and raise a little bit of more money. Just again, been back to our day jobs. And I, I didn’t give a shit. I was, whatever we couldn’t afford? Credit card. I had over $100,000 on my Amex card. And you know there was a possible scenario that was looming which was if we did get into a top tier film festival, we would just have to, my wife and I, sell our house and move. Period. And luckily before that happened we were accepted into Cannes.
Once we got into that festival, the assessment of our outcome changed dramatically. We went even further into debt to finish it off in time. But when you know you’re going to be premiering in Cannes, it’s such a modest budget. You can’t guarantee it, but you can safely assume you’ll make your money back. So, yeah, it was always funded in steps, never the proper way, and always in reckless abandonment.
But also I will say I waited six years from my previous film to do it again, and it was certainly reckless and aggressive to just make this film happen no matter what in the year 2012, but it was also about I had been biding my time and been very patient for six years straight. That was as important as being aggressive, it was like knowing when not to make a movie, which was six years leading up to it. But when we went, we went all in and went aggressive, and in that time period, cameras got from “we could only afford standard definition” to beautiful HD quality and would blow up to a big screen.
With the film already being classified as a cult hit and you won an award at Cannes, what do you think this says about the future of Kickstarter?
Jeremy: I have no idea what that says about the future of Kickstarter! But I will say, for us, we used it in a very traditional way. Whereas, we needed a kickstart; we only asked people to come in after we were maxed out. So it was about bridging the gap between future and reality of making this movie or not. And honestly, back before the arguments about Kickstarter for me… what’s so great about Kickstarter is that it’s crowd funding. It’s democratized, it’s voluntary. So if people want to fund a Zach Braff movie, by all means! I mean, of course people will sort of player hate on millionaires asking others for money… (via)