INDIE FILMMAKERS BRING SHOWBIZ COMEDY ‘CINEMA PURGATORIO’ DIRECTLY TO FRIENDS AND FANS PRIOR TO FALL FILM FESTIVAL RUN
11 Cities in 11 Days Summer Screening Tour Aims for “House-Concert” Intimacy
When husband and wife indie filmmakers Chris White and Emily Reach White left their day jobs to make movies, they felt like they were (finally) in the right place at the right time.
“It was the fall of 2009 and DSLR cameras were starting to come into their own, crowd-sourcing was in its infancy, social media brought the world to our laptop,” Chris says, “Not to mention, a mid-life return to grad school seemed like a far riskier bet than our plans for creative entrepreneurship.”
The Whites’ first full-length feature film TAKEN IN was shot for $5,000.00 in the spring of 2010. “We were highly motivated. We made personalized video appeals for about 300 friends to raise the money for TAKEN IN,” Emily explains, “When our crowd-funding campaign succeeded, we felt like we’d struck gold.”
Three years and three films later, the Whites are still working around the clock on a ten-year, “overnight success plan.” This summer, they will take their latest feature-length film, CINEMA PURGATORIO, a smart, showbiz comedy about two filmmakers trying to meet actor Bill Murray, on an eleven-city East Coast screening tour prior to the fall U.S. film festival season.
Chris explains: “We see this as the next logical evolution of social media. We have so many friends on Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of email addresses, too. But how do you break through all the clutter and noise? Our summer screening tour plan looks a bit like Airbnb in reverse: we reach out to friends and ask if they’ll pay us to host a CINEMA PURGATORIO screening in their hometown."
The idea, innovative for indie filmmakers, is tried-and-true for independent musicians benefitting from the house-concert phenomenon—a shift in thinking for independent artists who successfully generate tour income while expanding their audience reach, gigging door-to-door.
“The most valuable thing a no-name filmmaker can offer their audience, in addition to fascinating and true films, is personal contact and accessibility. When Chris and I say that we hand-make movies for our friends, we mean it,” Emily says.
The Whites’ CINEMA PURGATORIO summer tour has already seen their $50,000 film play to sold out crowds all across their home state of South Carolina. And though they’ve not broken even yet, they are getting close.
“At the end of the day, this is a family business, “ Chris admits, “We support our family making movies. These fans, friends, and followers who are scattered all over the country are the people who can make us or break us. It makes sense to get out there and make an effort to bring our new film into their living rooms.”