One of the most fascinating film projects I’ve come across in a while is The Cosmonaut, a crowdfunded film project by the Madrid-based Riot Film Collective. The film’s plot is pretty intriguing: it’s set in 1975 and tells the story of the first Russian cosmonaut to go to the moon, and when he is unable to return to earth, he is declared missing. But through radio transmissions, he claims to have returned to earth and found it to be abandoned. These radio transmissions eventually begin to destroy the stability of his loved ones. It’s an intelligent premise, one that sounds like it will use the conventions of science-fiction in a fascinating way.
But what seems equally interesting about the film is the fact that the collective has found a way to make the crowdfunding model work for film production. For as little as 2 euros users can become a “producer” of the film and receive “gifts” from the crew. Essentially, by buying from the film’s store, you are supporting the making of the film. In addition to the crowdfunding model, the Riot Film Collective has lined up endorsements and sponsors to help finance it.
In addition to an innovative use of crowdfunding to support production costs (and to cultivate an audience that is doubly invested in the success of the film), the Riot Film Collective has decided to focus on a radically open process to creative control over their images, opting to invite people to remix teaser trailers and to rework any element of the film they choose. Peter Broderick discussed these issues a few months ago, and pointed out that the filmmakers have posted the film’s script (in Spanish, PDF) and an aesthetic dossier describing the film (I’ll try to look at this later; my Spanish needs work). Further, rather than worrying about piracy, the filmmakers have chosen to post the entire feature-length film online in HD (for free) in addition to releasing it on DVD, on TV, and in theaters, using a Creative Commons license that will encourage others to remix, edit, and rework the original film.
Also worth noting, the folks at Pulpfilms have been following this story for a while and have noted that the filmmakers have started a video diary series to document the filmmaking process, an approach that can not only help to build anticipation for the movie itself but can also serve as a kind of “pedagogy” for the new production and distribution models they are using. By the way, I’ll be passing through Madrid in a few weeks and when I do, I’m hoping to catch up with these guys for a quick interview, but this is an exciting project, one I’m very much looking forward to following in the weeks and months to come.