This is a big update with some exciting announcements (and a sneak peak teaser), so make sure you read all the way through! :)
First, I want to acknowledge that we haven’t sent an update to our supporters in a very long time. Sam and I want to start this message by apologizing for our lack of communication. Many of you have reached out to us over the preceding months to check in, and we greatly appreciate you doing so. Your support means a lot to us.
The good news is this project is not dead, far from it! For the past three years, Sam and I have forged ahead on the editing front. This is the first time either of us have made a feature-length documentary, and we also did not foresee the post production process taking so long, but to set some expectations, making a feature-length documentary is a huge undertaking! And for the most part, Sam and I have taken on this enormous task on our own while balancing making an income in our respective freelance filmmaking careers.
I want to catch everyone up on the milestones we’ve hit and what’s left to come. Around March of 2015 we finally finished our first rough cut of the film. This meant taking over 100 hours of footage and distilling it into a cohesive, viewable narrative. Albeit, our first rough cut was over two and a half hours long! We hosted two intimate, private viewing sessions to get feedback and a few months later had a rough cut version 2. After more feedback and editing, by October, 2015 we had a rough cut version 3 sitting just over two hours long.
At this point, Sam and I felt our ability to continue editing was seriously impaired by how close to the project we were. It was time to bring in outside help. We hired Manuel Tsingaris, a seasoned documentary editor (a movie he cut, Alive Inside, won the Audience Award at Sundance in 2014!). With Manuel’s wonderful guidance and direction we made a version 4 and shortly after a version 5. The movie is now 94 minutes long, totally watchable, and the story/narrative arc feels nearly locked in.
At this point, there are many exciting developments. First, we have officially decided on a name for the film!
The Papa Grows Funk documentary will be called Do U Want It? When you see the movie, you’ll understand how thematically relevant this title is.
Here’s a little teaser video Sam edited to get you guys excited!
Second, we’ve brought on two incredible Producers to the team. Rachael Ponn, a fellow Northwestern Medill School of Journalism graduate, is a do-it-all kind of person. With Rachael on board, our communication will increase from here on out! She’s going to be leading our marketing and outreach, building and sustaining our social media presence. She’s also doing what a good Producer does - everything necessary to make the project happen.
Alex Mallonee is our other Producer new to the team. He’s in charge of creating and implementing a strategy for our upcoming run through film festivals and distribution afterwards. Alex is a talented Director himself and a frequent collaborator of mine. Right now Alex and I are tapping into our network talking to fellow filmmakers about best practices for pushing a film through film festivals and beyond. If any of you have guidance or connections you can share with us, that would be so appreciated!
We have the highest of hopes for Do U Want It? This isn’t just a little passion project. We want to get into the biggest film festivals and win awards. We want as many people as possible to watch the movie and get inspired by Papa Grows Funk and New Orleans. In our best case scenario, we will begin submitting the film to festivals this fall and winter and hopefully the film will premiere next spring or summer!
But the film is still not finished, and our goal is to complete Do U Want It? by this September. There are many things still to be done from find a few more archival photos, get our music mixed, finish our animations, and get the film colored.
We are also exploring taking on an Executive Producer and/or a sales agent to help with distribution. We’d love someone with influence to watch and endorse the film, so any help here would be great.
Sam and I are basically working full time on the film right now, and we feel the momentum building and we see the finish line. Or a finish line. The more filmmakers I talk to, the more I realize all the different routes a film can take and how long this journey is.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much! You clearly care about the project. Again, apologies for our lack of communication. We promise to keep everyone in the loop from here on out.
Thank you all for your continued support. We will definitely need more of it over the coming months. Don’t hesitate to reach out for any reason! :)
Josh and Sam