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4:00 PM on 09.19.2014

How I did Kickstarter: Making the pitch video

While I would say that the written pitch is probably the most important part of a Kickstarter project, the video is definitely the face of it. And it’s also vital. While you aren’t required to have a pitch video,...

Alec Kubas-Meyer




Review: This is Where I Leave You photo
Review: This is Where I Leave You
by Matthew Razak

The dramatic family comedy. A staple in our modern day film scene. Throw is some folky pop music and a few stars and you've got yourself a big giant cliche ready for the theaters. There are ways to do it right, though. If you can pull your film out of melodrama and into actual emotion then you can hit the nail on the head. It happens.

It only half happened here. This Is Where I Leave You boldly teases at pushing its characters and feelings in interesting directions, but holds back far too much. It leaves us with a family dramedy that works on basic levels, but never transcends its genre. 

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Review: A Walk Among the Tombstones photo
Review: A Walk Among the Tombstones
by Matthew Razak

Looking back over Liam Neeson's career since Taken turned him into an action hero one could argue that he's basically made the same movie over and over. A vengeful individual in some sort of manly battle involving life and death. And, yes, that is a valid argument. But it also isn't. 

See, while Neeson's films have all been pushed the same way, they actually haven't all been that similar (both in tone and quality). From the outstanding The Grey too the awful Taken 2 Neeson has basically played around with the theme of the bad ass, elder hero in a variety of ways. Now they haven't always worked, but one thing remains consistent: Neeson is awesome. That pretty much describes A Walk Among the Tombstones perfectly. It doesn't always work, but Neeson is awesome.

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Review: The Maze Runner photo
Review: The Maze Runner
by Nick Valdez

As  Flixist's resident Young Adult novel correspondent, I've seen lots of forgettable teen films. With studios betting huge fortunes on these films becoming successful franchises (like Twilight and The Hunger Games), most of these series tend to forget they need a suitable first entry to get kids interested in the first place less they flop around and count their chickens before anything hatches like Divergent. 

The Maze Runner is the latest in a long line of hopeful franchises that want to hit the ground running, but it stumbles out the gate. While it looks good, and is acted well enough, there's no cheese at the end of this maze. 

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Deadpool movie actually happening, gets release date  photo
Deadpool movie actually happening, gets release date
by Nick Valdez

Folks, is this real? Is this truly, truly real? It seems 20th Century Fox is finally fulfilling the promise made long ago (which possibly is attributed to the test footage "leak" a while back) with an X-Men spin-off starring Deadpool. 

The film will be directed by Tim Miller, and Ryan Reynolds is still rumored to star but no official deal has been set. There's also no other information as to tone or whether or not the studio is still going with the script written by the Zombieland duo of Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick, but hey it's gonna be a thing for your eyeballs! 

Deadpool releases February 12, 2016. Here's that test footage, in case you've missed it. 

[via THR]

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Review: Tusk photo
Review: Tusk
by Sean Walsh

I have a long-standing history with Kevin Smith, dating back to high school when I first saw the erroneously named "Jersey Trilogy." When Red State came out in 2011, I was intrigued to see what Smith could do with both the horror genre and a parody of the always-awful Westboro Baptist Church. I was...underwhelmed, to the point where sharing the same room as the man whose films I could quote by heart was undesirable.

I was following Tusk with fairly mild curiosity until I saw the trailer (see below), and then found my curiosity going from mild to full-tilt. When we received the invite for an advance screening in NYC, I took my first-ever paid personal day, hopped a train, and went to see if the idol of my teen years still had it in him. 

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Views Askew: Growing Up on Kevin Smith photo
Views Askew: Growing Up on Kevin Smith
by Sean Walsh

[Back in June 2012, we had Kevin Smith Week to celebrate his new Hulu show, Spoilers. What with his new movie Tusk hitting theaters this week, it felt apropos to repost the article, with a new entry for the new film.]

Y'know, I don't exactly remember when or where the first time I saw a Kevin Smith movie was. If I had to warrant a guess, it would've been Mallrats in the living room of my old house, the house where I spent my formative years absorbing as much pop culture as possible (not much has changed). What I do know for sure is that while growing up, the View Askewniverse was as much a part of me as pineapple calzones, Hawaiian shirts, and an inflated ego.

Of course, as one grows up, things change. They mature, develop, become an adult. I haven't had a pineapple calzonne since I don't know when, I haven't purchased a Hawaiian shirt since before I graduated high school in 2005, my ego has deflated (a little bit, at least), and Kevin Smith is no longer a vital part of my DNA. But for a good long while, he was my film god. Join me, if you would, on this personal journey into the past to examine the impact the man and his movies had on my life throughout high school and up through the present. We'll laugh, we'll cry, we'll reflect on the zen of "snoochie boochies*."

*That last bit probably isn't true.

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Review: The Guest photo
Review: The Guest
by Nick Valdez

When I saw the first trailer for The Guest I wasn't particularly interested in the film. It looked generic, bland, and seemed like yet another trite thriller that comes out around Halloween for a cheap buck. But like You're Next (written and directed by the same duo of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett) last year, there's more here than I initially gave it credit for. 

You're Next went on to become one of my favorite films of 2013, and now The Guest joins alongside as my favorite film of 2014 so far. It exceeded my expectations. Fantastic, thrilling, exquisite, nail biting, hilarious, captivating...

There simply aren't enough buzzwords to capture how much I loved The Guest. 

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Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass returning for Bourne photo
Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass returning for Bourne
by Matthew Razak

Remember when Jeremy Renner took over the Jason Bourne franchise and was going to basically do a whole new set of trilogies? Yea. Not so fast. Deadline is confirming a rumor that went around last year that Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass will be returning to the franchise and stealing the Renner sequel's release date of summer 2016. Where the direct sequel to The Bourne Legacy is still in the works with director Justin Lin helming it appears it won't get released until after Damon's Bourne 5

Now this isn't all bad. Evidently Universal is hoping they can expand the franchise and have characters from both films crossing over with each other developing a Marvel-like universe on a smaller scale and with less spandex. 

I wasn't particularly enthused by Renner's turn in the franchise so I'm happy to see both Damon and Greengrass return. Hopefully this means so awesome Renner/Damon action in the future. 

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The Mockingjay lives in this newest trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 photo
The Mockingjay lives in this newest trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
by Nick Valdez

Looks like a girl, but she's a flame. As Flixist's resident Young Adult book advisor, I love me some Hunger Games (and will always exploit Alicia Keys' once hit single) and I'm glad the newest trailer finally shows off how different the final book in the series is from other copycats out there. 

Watch the trailer. It's so good. This'll probably be the last you can see for awhile before they start spoiling everything too. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 opens November 21st. 

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Review: The Pirates photo
Review: The Pirates
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Every so often, a film comes along that completely shatters your expectations. You think you've got it figured out and then it throws a curveball. Then another. Then five more. Soon you realize you can't figure the film out and you have to just let it happen, because even hazarding a guess at what happens next will just make you look silly. It's rare for something so consistently bizarre to be released, and even rarer for it to be a blockbuster, even a foreign one.

But The Pirates is one of those films. And I'm still reeling from the impact.

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How I did Kickstarter: Writing the pitch photo
How I did Kickstarter: Writing the pitch
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

When you go to a Kickstarter page, what's the first thing you do? I always read (or at least skim) the text of their pitch. If it looks interesting, I'll read through it properly. If not, I'm not going to back it. If I see the project's video embedded on a different site, maybe I'll watch that first, but the text is always more important to me. 

So when I sat down to write the pitch for Reel, I had to make something that would appeal to me. But this campaign wasn't really written for me; it's for you. That means what I really had to make was something that appealed to everyone else.

I’ve gotten great feedback on the whole, so I guess I succeeded. Head below for a deeper look at that process.

[Alec is doing a Kickstarter. You can (and should) back it here. Through the project's duration, he will be writing a series of articles about the process. More about that here. Check out the other entries here.]

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Review: The Drop photo
Review: The Drop
by Matthew Razak

The Drop is one of those little crime thrillers that comes out and no one really hears about it and you aren't sure why it was made. Possibly the studio thought it could grab some award love or something, but nothing is actually going to come out of it. This is too bad because Tom Hardy gives a performance that you could never see coming from the man.

The Drop sadly isn't up to its star's performance, but that only makes Hardy stand out more. There is nothing more fantastic than watching an actor completely embody a role. There are few things more upsetting than watching the movie surrounding it never match it.

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How I did Kickstarter: Avoiding content-specific stretch goals photo
How I did Kickstarter: Avoiding content-specific stretch goals
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Another few days, another few backers. Seriously, this is one of the most stressful things I've ever done in my life, and I can't even imagine what it would be like on a larger scale. In the grand scheme of things, $3,500 is really not that much money. It's not like we're asking for $35,000 or $350,000 like some projects do.

This post is only sort of about my Kickstarter. It's a bit more focused on a broader trend in crowdfunded projects in general that makes me sad. It applies more heavily to video games than movies, but it definitely applies to movies as well. The issue at hand? Content-focused stretch goals.

[Alec is doing a Kickstarter. You can (and should) back it here. Through the project's duration, he will be writing a series of articles about the process. More about that here. Check out the other entries here.]

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How I did Kickstarter: Choosing a goal (and considering stretches) photo
How I did Kickstarter: Choosing a goal (and considering stretches)
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

We're now a week into our Kickstarter, and it's been pretty crazy. As of this writing, we've made more than one-third of our goal, which is fantastic. If we can keep up this momentum during the lull that always befalls projects in the middle of their campaign, then we'll breeze past no problem. More likely we hit that lull and then make a mad dash at the end.

But let's talk about that goal. It's the most fundamental part of any Kickstarter campaign, and it is the metric by which a Kickstarter's success is defined. We have asked for $3,500 to help us create Reel. Here is how we came up with that number and why we went with it.

[Alec is doing a Kickstarter. You can (and should) back it here. Through the project's duration, he will be writing a series of articles about the process. More about that here. Check out the other entries here.]

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Review: As Above, So Below photo
Review: As Above, So Below
by Sean Walsh

So, every now and then, I get really excited about a movie from its trailer (which is the point of a trailer, of course). My top three, in no particular order, would probably be 21 Jump Street, Watchmen, and Guardians of the Galaxy. I love trailers, but I tend to try not to get pumped for a lot of movies just in case they show the best stuff in the trailer and I end up walking out of the movie all pouty.

That being said, I could barely contain my excitement for As Above, So Below. A found footage movie in the catacombs beneath Paris that leads the hapless protagonists into literal hell? Ghosts from their past coming back to do more than just haunt them? My hype level was at an all-time high. I thought, "Could this be the film that reinvigorates the found footage genre?" I was so excited, I made sure I didn't watch the new trailer they released last week (see below), just in case it would taint my overall giddiness.

Could this movie possibly match my expectations? Did I set myself up for my own ninety-minute trip into hell? Strap on your headlamps and find out below. 

I would also like to include a trigger warning for anybody reading this that has aversion to frightening images. The pictures below are pretty in-your-face, as is befitting of a found footage horror film, and I don't want anybody getting upset.

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How I did Kickstarter: Five things I wish I knew before starting photo
How I did Kickstarter: Five things I wish I knew before starting
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

My friend and I launched our Kickstarter four days ago. A lot has happened since then, some behind the scenes and some exceedingly public. Through all of that, a few lovely people (primarily friends and family) have already helped us achieve a not-insignificant portion of our goal.

It's exciting. Really exciting. But it's also been extremely stressful for a whole host of reasons. The biggest is that trying to crowdfund is simply a unique experience, and one that it's difficult to really prepare for. But there are a few things I really wish I'd known from the outset. I figured all of this out on the way, some of it more recently than I would have liked, but all of it would have changed my initial approach had I understood it from the get-go. So I wanted to share that all with you.

None of this has to do with our movie specifically or even movies in general. If you want to Kickstart a video game, a CD, or even a delicious new snack, all of this will probably apply to you.

So without further ado, here are five things I really wish I had known before doing a Kickstarter:

[Alec is doing a Kickstarter. You can (and should) back it here. Through the project's duration, he will be writing a series of articles about the process. More about that here. Check out the other entries here.]

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I'm Kickstarting a short film, and you're coming with me photo
I'm Kickstarting a short film, and you're coming with me
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Sometimes a particularly scathing review is met with some version of "Oh yeah? Let's see you do better." While I don't think it's a valid non-argument, it's an interesting thought. But if you have ever felt that way after reading any of my reviews, I'm giving you the chance to call my bluff. 

You see, I'm making a short film called Reel. It's a martial arts film that I'm co-writing/directing with actor/writer/friend Gerard Chamberlain, and we're both exceedingly excited about the project. We think it's going to be pretty much the best thing since sliced bread, which is why we've set up a Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is a great platform. It's one we've written about dozens (possibly hundreds) of times. I've backed a bunch of things, and I actually spent a semester studying the platform in school. I have a pretty good conceptual understanding of it, but I'm about to see how that can be put into practice. (And yes, I'm totally aware of the direct comparison to conceptual criticism versus practical application of filmmaking you may or may not be making right now.)

Regardless, I want to share this experience with all of you who have been on Flixist with me for the past three-plus years.

Backer updates are all well and good, but there's more to it than that. For the next month, I'll be discussing the process of actually getting a project onto Kickstarter at all. I'll be talking about everything from writing the pitch to figuring out the goal. A lot of work goes into setting up a Kickstarter, and the next month is probably going to take a few years off my life. But I hope you can learn something from that. Whether we raise our funds or not, our successes and failures could be a template for you if you decide to crowdfund in the future.

So let's freaking do this everybody. If there's anything else about the process that you want to hear about, let me know in the comments. 

[Alec is doing a Kickstarter. You can (and should) back it here. Through the project's duration, he will be writing a series of articles about the process. More about that here. Check out the other entries here.]

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Pierce Brosnan's best and worst since Bond photo
Pierce Brosnan's best and worst since Bond
by Matthew Razak

We all know that that the apex of any actor's career is playing James Bond. Well, that's what us Bond fans like to think anyway, but after leaving the role did you know that Bond actors continue to act -- even ones not named Sean Connery. Yes, it's true as shocking as it may be.

With Pierce Brosnan returning to the spy game this weekend in November Man we thought it would be a good time to take a look at what he's done since Bond. There's actually quite a lot of good stuff. There's also some bad stuff, and in the name of fairness and in order to more easily make jokes about bad movies we're going to talk about both. 

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Some Like It Hot: Eva Green photo
Some Like It Hot: Eva Green
by Nick Valdez

Eva Green has definitely made herself known these past few years, and with good reason. Regardless of the overall quality of the project she's attached to, she's not one to slack. She gives her all in every performance as I've seen her singlehandedly make terrible films worthwhile. With the vibe of Classic Hollywood staples like Joan Crawford, she oozes charisma, sensuality, and pure badassness. 

With Sin City: A Dame to Kill For in theaters, I figured it was time to revive our Some Like It Hot feature to explore the wonderousness of Eva Green's assets. 

[Some Like It Hot shines a light on the men and women of film who have captured our hearts, and oftentimes, our libidos. It celebrates the cinematic sirens and strongmen of the silver screen that give us the vapors, tug on our heartstrings, and leave us hungry for more. Also, they're really effing hot.]

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Review: The November Man photo
Review: The November Man
by Matthew Razak

The fact that Pierce Brosnan was returning to spy movies pretty much made me one of the most excited people around. The November Man would be a harder, R-rated James Bond with some good action and maybe a little throwback feel to the spy films of the 90s. I'd be quite happy with even the most mediocre of old-school thrillers with that set up.

It says a lot that I am not happy with this movie at all, not even with Pierce Brosnan.

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The Simpsons Movie is not very good  photo
The Simpsons Movie is not very good
by Nick Valdez

I don't think I'll ever be able to properly explain how big of an influence The Simpsons has had on my life. Rather than learn any useful skills, go out on dates with cute girls, or have a social life in general, I watched episodes of The Simpsons. When I was through with a season, I'd buy more on DVD and watch them again. Basically, I've invested at least 60-65% of my 25 year run into this show. 

That's why The Simpsons Movie was a huge disappointment. Not because I'm a fan who wanted more (I saw this in theaters five times when it originally released), but because I've gotten a fancy education and look at films in a different light. Sure The Simpsons Movie has some good gags and gets a lot of credit for being better than the recent glut of seasons when it released, but it's just not a good movie. 

Watching it again, I can't defend it like I used to. 

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