With Super Troopers 2 continuing to be a huge success on global crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo, director and star of the original comedy, Jay Chandrasekhar is ready to share details about the upcoming film and why Broken Lizard decided to turn to fans for funding help.
In a recent essay, published by the Daily Beast, Chandrasekhar wrote about how Super Troopers nearly lost its chance at filming success:
“The film you know as Super Troopers is a film that almost didn’t happen. The script was originally commissioned and developed by Miramax, but when it failed to get a green light, Harvey Weinstein was kind enough to give it back to us so we could make it elsewhere (he didn’t have to do this). The problem was, no other studios wanted to make it either.
“In their eyes, it wasn’t a good bet. I say ‘bet’ because that’s what the film business is—it’s a series of wagers made by the presidents of production. The president of a film company is allotted a yearly production budget, and he (or she) makes bets on which films they think will bring the studio the most profit. If he or she chooses well, they’ll have a good, long run in his job.
“If he or she chooses poorly by betting on the wrong films, they’ll likely be yesterday’s news. As funny as we thought our script might have been, Super Troopers, starring five nobodies, didn’t fit the model of a good financial bet.
“Unwilling to give up, we approached independent financiers, but we were rejected again—this time for being “too commercial.” At the time, the most financially successful independent films we’re dark, quirky, and dealt with topics like heroin addiction, complex sexuality, and mother/son love. Sadly, Super Troopers had none of those things.
“We were caught in between and out of options. And then, a miracle happened: A college friend of mine called to ask a favor. Her father, Pete, had retired from an investment bank, and wanted to get into show business. He’d written a comedy script and was eager for me to read it and give him notes. When Pete and I spoke, he told me about his script and I offered to read it; but then he paused. He asked to read a writing sample first, ostensibly to audition me—to see if I was even worthy of giving him notes. I bit down hard, but because of my friend, I sent him the script for Super Troopers. A week later, Pete called back, ‘I read your script. It’s pretty damned funny. What’s happening with it?’ I told him we were looking for money, and just like that, he said, ‘I’ll give you a $1.2 million. Not a penny more.
“We made the film, took it to Sundance, and Fox Searchlight bought it. Pete more than doubled his money and Searchlight nailed the release, turning Super Troopers into a cult hit, and putting our comedy troupe Broken Lizard on the map. And now, after years of build up, we’re contemplating a sequel.”
Noting why Broken Lizard decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign, Chandrasekhar stated:
“Here’s the question everyone asks: If the first film did so well, why do we need to crowdfund the sequel? Let me tell you a little story that sums up the current state of the film business. Two years ago, my friend was the president of a major Hollywood studio.
“When I sat down with him to talk about what movies we might make together, he said, ‘We need $100 million comedies starring Johnny Depp, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, or Vince Vaughn. That’s it. That’s the list. That’s what we want.’ I smiled, ‘People resent $100 million comedies. They feel bloated and not of the underground. What if, instead, we made a few $20 million comedies?’ (Low budget for a studio).
“He shrugged, and what he said shocked me. ‘The most a $20 million film will make is, what? A $100 million?’ I nodded. He shook his head, ‘That’s a double. I need grand slams. I need movies that can gross $250-$400 million worldwide. I need movies that can move the stock price.’”
In regards to any problems Broken Lizard has encountered with crowdfunding, Chandrasekhar added:
“Here was my biggest problem with past crowdfunding campaigns for films: Doesn’t it suck that a fan can donate to a film, and help get it made, but then have to pay again to see it when it comes out in theaters? How do we avoid that? After much back and forth, here’s what we came up with:
“We formed a partnership with the movie ticket service Fandango. So now, for the first time ever, a fan can buy a package called, “The Fandango Bango” (priced at $35) and get a movie ticket to Super Troopers 2, which they can use at their local theater. They’ll also get a signed script, which we’ve annotated with hand-written jokes, and a shout out on Twitter. Is that worth $35? In the first few days of the campaign, over 2000 fans have signed on to buy tickets, so it appears fans are feeling good about our solution. Yes, I’m aware that the average movie ticket is $12 dollars, but we’re using the markup to make the film. That’s how crowdfunding works.
“We really want to make this feel worth it for our fans, so we’ve committed to making the Super Troopers 2 experience last a lot longer than the typical 90-minute film. We’ve shot 19 funny campaign videos, we’ll be updating you from the set with candid videos and photos, and we’ll give you special rewards while we’re in post. You’re going to get your $35 worth, I promise.
“Look, I can’t wait for the future when equity-based crowdfunding passes (maybe as soon as June). But in the meantime, our campaign aspires to be a step in the right direction. We hope that you’ll grab your ticket now, if for no other reason than to help us make the point about how future crowdfunding campaigns should be treating their supporters. And if not for that, then buy your ticket now to tell Hollywood that there is an appetite for smaller budget films; that there is an appetite for Super Troopers 2.”
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