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DocGeeks » Get it made » The Moo Man: Sundance opened doors, now we want the big screen

The Moo Man: Sundance opened doors, now we want the big screen

The Moo Man Andy HeathcoteFilmmakers Andy Heathcote and Heike Bachelier, creators of the fabulous documentary The Moo Man, describe their experience of having a film enter the Sundance Film Festival and how they are now looking for help from the audience to self fund their acclaimed doc onto the big screen.

“Six years ago we made a decision to self fund our films and do it all ourselves. Now we sit with bated breath gripping the edge of our seats.

Our tiny outfit Trufflepig Films is on a roller-coaster ride right now. It all began with Sundance, or rather, it began the day before Sundance. The Moo Man was picked from obscurity to play in competition at Sundance in January. The film is set on a dairy farm in the remote Pevensey Levels of Sussex. Yet the day before Sundance ‘the Levels’ were choked with newspaper, radio and telly, all descending on the farm to hear the story of a dairy farmer and his dad about to jet off to Sundance. Steve the farmer couldn’t even milk his cows for all the attention. Turns out though, taking Steve and his dad to Sundance was one of the best decisions we could make.

When we arrived in Park City, we couldn’t leave our house on the first day because of a back-log of radio and press interviews down-the-line with the UK. Odd thing was, we’d sent out a press release a month earlier, but no-one wanted to know until we were literally about to step on a plane to Utah. So there we were, a bunch of unknowns in Park City. What do you think happens? Well, everyone just loved the farmer and his dad. After each of our screenings it would take longer and longer to walk down Main Street. In the end we had to give up walking, it took too long.

The Moo Man 2

To view The Moo Man’s Kickstarter campaign click here.

Way back when we initially tried to pitch our project about a farmer and his cows, the reaction was “who on earth will want to watch that?” But bottom line is we find that if it’s an emotional film with a good story, it will find its audience. And so Berlin and True/False film festivals followed Sundance, and all had packed screenings.

We went through all the film festival hoo-ha early in the year. Then we looked at the offers for distribution, and we thought; you know what, we are so passionate about our story that we want to distribute it ourselves. So now we are doing a DIY release with November Films. Why? It’s not because we have to, but because we know nobody else will put as much energy as us into working our film around the country. The Moo Man is a very touching film but it’s also a touch-paper for a bunch of issues to do with our disconnection from the countryside, from where our food comes, to how we farm animals and to what happens if all the family farms close down. We can push those messages like nobody else.

It’s not difficult to be passionate about your own film, the downside is you can totally exploit yourself. However, because we self funded The Moo Man, at least we still own it. So when we self-distribute our film, one day some money might even come back to us.

Moo Man DVDBut to distribute a film without a marketing budget is suicide. However if you’ve sunk everything you have into making your film, what else do you do? Fortune shined, because Kickstarter’s launch here in the UK was perfect timing. It’s another great tool for the DIY filmmaker. Especially when you have a finished film, people can see what they are crowd-funding, they know what they are buying into. And Kickstarter is genius. You’re not just funding your project, you’re discovering your audience too. These early adopters get something they want, and brilliantly, these guys are the champs too, the super fans. They spread the word and you’ll want to hug them.

The Kickstarter theory is pretty good. But the reality? At time of writing we have only 5 days left to run our campaign. But we have a rather large £6,811 or 34% still to find. However they say the last 48 hours are the make or break on Kickstarter. If there is going to be magic, that’s when it will happen.

So the clock is ticking. Me, I feel like Sidney Greenstreet in a sauna. We may or may not make it. If we do, our target of £20k will all go into promotion, including taking Steve our farmer around the country for Q&As. The nightmare is, if we only get £19,999 by 11.00am Wednesday 12 June, then we get nothing. That means no The Moo Man theatrical release – that’s the deal, that’s Kickstarter. So if you’d like to jump on our roller coaster, and help take a self made film all around the cinemas of the UK then check us out. If we succeed we’ll see you in cinemas from 12 July.”


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Alexandra Zeevalkink is a Dutch-born journalist living in London who founded DocGeeks in August 2011 in order to have a legitimate excuse to watch every documentary under the sun. She freelances for various publications and writes mainly about documentaries and the film production industry. When she is not blogging or watching films, she enjoys theater, photography and reading loads of books. She is always on the look out for potential partnerships with other creative minds.

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