I was digging through my files for some Red State pics for the goddamnsusa.com site when I found the following cover letter, submitted with the script on September 5, 2007…
Here’s Red State – the flick I wanna do after Zack and Miri.
I’m both sorry and happy to report that it’s one hundred and eighty degrees from Zack and Miri, both in tone and commercial prospects. It’s not an easy film; bleak, to say the least, with no laughs whatsoever.
I’d call it a horror flick, but it doesn’t exactly fit all the classic conventions of the genre. However, if Rosemary’s Baby is considered a horror flick, than so too can Red State be considered a horror flick.
I want to cast Michael Parks as Abin Cooper . Budget will likely be five million.
Can’t wait to hear what you think, but I’m fully expecting you’ll pass. No worries if you do; I understand this stuff isn’t all that marketable. But still, I’ve gotta make it. It’s time.
Well, it took a few years, and our budget was less than anticipated at the writing of that cover letter (the flick wound up costing a little under $4mil). And while Harvey would indeed pass on making Red State, Jon Gordon and I still named our production company The Harvey Boys in his honor – because we made Red State using everything he’d ever taught us at Miramax.
Some people have asked if we’d sell the flick to Harvey, should he make an offer.
All I’m saying is I hope Harvey’s in the room when that first Sundance screening ends…
But I hope Fox Searchlight is there, too.
And Lion’s Gate.
And maybe even an adventurous studio or two.
And some exhibitors, too – the lifeblood of the movie biz that rarely gets shouted-out.
Come one, come all to a fun-filled, fast-paced after-show that’ll be needed after that Red State screening. That and a shower.
And don’t mind the folks holding up signs outside the Eccles Theater in Park City; they’re just very aggressive fans…
……………………….Beware of hitchhiking ghosts……………………..
Here’s something I regret being talked out of: we flirted with the idea of a fan-funded model of Red State, with all profits from the eventual sale funding a micro-budget indie (or “People’s”) studio.
Could you imagine?
Had I not buckled to the carping of some unimaginative, alarmist cranks, we’d ALL be going to Sundance in three weeks – with a flick YOU financed with $5 bucks here, $500 bucks there. I wasn’t gonna make a dime, either: the idea was to create a way for the next generation of storytellers to get their first films made, financed on the back of Red State.
The big story at Sundance this year could’ve been how crowd-source financing produced Red State. But some myopic jackass with maybe 10k in hits at his website per year scared me off a revolutionary idea… with fucking name-calling. Branded a beggar and blasted for not using my own money to finance Red State (completely missing the point of the People’s Studio being built with nickels & dimes from the people – like a coffee co-op), I asked Jon to put aside all the time & tax research we’d put into crowd-source financing and went the traditional route of finding investors.
I’m not complaining: it worked out great because we really dig the freedom we were granted by our hands-off investors. But the fan-funded Red State will always gnaw at me: I knew I was right, but I let a blind man talk me out of something I could clearly see.
Never let some fucking wah-wahs tell you your business, kids. We got enough “Why?”-chromosome people in this wicked, wicked world already; be that rarest of breeds that asks, instead, “Why not?”
The story of how Red State came to be is the story of indie film. Listen to how it happened, and with who, every week on Red State of the Union Q&A’s – the free film school podcast, brought to you by The SModcast Network.