Roger Ebert is a beloved movie reviewer, famous for being half of the “Siskel & Ebert” duo that could make or break a movie producer’s day with a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.”
Steve James knows this all too well. He got his big break in the movie industry when Siskel & Ebert reviewed his film Hoop Dreams almost twenty years ago. They gave him two thumbs up, of course.
Now Steve James is directing a documentary about Roger Ebert’s life, and he has turned to Indiegogo to secure funding and build a community around the film. The film is to be called Life Itself. Martin Scorsese and Steve Zaillian are executive producers for the film as well. Their goal is to create a lasting testament to Ebert.
LIFE ITSELF, the first ever feature-length documentary on the life of Roger Ebert, covers the prolific critic’s life journey from his days at the University of Illinois, to his move to Chicago where he became the first film critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize, then to television where he and Gene Siskel became iconic stars, and finally to what Roger referred to as “his third act”; how he overcame disabilities wrought by cancer to became a major voice on the internet and through social media.
The big perk available during the campaign is the ability to see the film early before it hits theaters. That perk is secured at the $25 pledge level. According to the campaign page, online streaming of the film for backers will be available via a partnership with VHX.
The flexible funding campaign is seeking $150,000 in the next 30 days. It has a long way to go before hitting the goal, but the campaign just launched today and something tells me the networks of those involved with the film may go a long way toward getting this project fully-funded.
The film is said to be close to finished and in post-production. In short, I doubt that this funding is core to whether the film gets created or not. This seems to be a marketing play.
The main goal of the campaign is to build a community around the film. Specifically, they want to garner 7,202 backers, one for every review Ebert wrote while with the Chicago Sun-Times.
Any funds raised over the goal will be contributed to charities and foundations in Ebert’s honor. These include but are not limited to The Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies in the College of Media at the University of Illinois and The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation.
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