Movie Collective Launch
Cassian Elwes has been a champion for independent film his entire life. I was fortunate enough to get to know his Stepfather – Elliott Kastner – another innovator of independent cinema.
So when I got to meet Cassian last Autumn and managed to convince him to see my short film, I was a little nervous. We talked about Elliott and Elliott’s dream (from over a decade ago) of using the internet to radically change film finance for independent film and I mentioned the brilliant site Crowdcube.com. Elliott was ahead of his time (as he was trying to crowdfund before the term was even evented). Cassian quietly said, “I should be on Crowdcube.” Cassian has an instinct for things. We carried on with lunch and then he saw my short film.
But that night I could not sleep. I emailed Cassian a “Jerry Maguire-esque” mission statement that probably went on a bit too long. It ran to about five pages – maybe more. I was excited. “Yes!” I exclaimed. “You should be on Crowdcube and it needs to be a slate and it needs to have a movie that is ready to shoot and we need to open up the world of film finance to the people – this is how films should be financed. Movies for the people, by the people. The people are the studio!” And so on and so on – for about five pages, if I remember – maybe more.
Cassian replied back that night with one line. “I love it. I want to do it.” And that was it.
And really, that’s all it takes to get something started. And that’s how we started. And here we are. The idea is simple. And it is made possible by technology.
Cassian has overseen 100s of movies as a producer, exec producer or as the head of the independent film unit at William Morris. That’s 100s of directors, screenplays, 10s of 1000s of actors and crew. He has seen every budget, finance plan, box office record and handled 1000s of pre-sale orders and negotiated with buyers from around the globe. And here he is, starting a business and giving anyone with £10 the chance to have a piece of the picture – a share in a movie business, a new movie studio with a slate of projects.
My own background is a story of disruption. But not by choice. When I could not get the right deal for my debut feature I improvised my own way and became a text book story for how the indie filmmaker could self distribute his or her movie and achieve success.
I have no idea if this will work. But there is a logic to it and it could be a similar path of least resistance for independent movies. Instead of one person putting in £1m to get a movie made it makes sense if 1000 people put in £1000. The risk is spread but so is the reward.
Technology continues to bring us together. It continues to democratise systems. The timing of Movie Collective could be good. I cannot guarantee success for the forthcoming Crowdcube campaign. And if we are successful I cannot guarantee that we will make successful movies through Movie Collective. But Cassian, myself and the fantastic team behind this new business which includes Matt Wood, Muireann Price and Evan Arnold – will do our best and nothing short of our best to get it right. And yes, we need some luck too. So wish us luck!