Following a flurry of financial and promotional support from independent filmmakers, Man-child has begun to gain the attention of the basketball community. Eleven-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson is among the project’s most prominent backers and Los Angeles Lakers Executive VP of Business Operations Jeanie Buss has promoted the campaign via social media. Additional support has come via Twitter “retweets”
In describing Man-child, Koo said, “while there are a number of basketball films about high school, college, or pro athletes, today's recruiting -- legal and illegal -- begins much earlier. It’s a fascinating world which often leaves big decisions in the hands of little kids.” Because the campaign is circumventing traditional private equity film finance models, Koo observed, “if this effort is successful, Man-child will be a movie enabled by an entire community that shares my sentiment that this story needs to be told.”
On Kickstarter, individuals receive rewards in exchange for supporting a project. Backers who pledge $10 to the Man-child campaign will be sent a digital download of the film when it is completed; $24 nets a backer the DVD, and $120 yields a producer credit on the film. In addition to pre-selling the movie, by utilizing an innovative $1-per-frame model, Koo is also promising backers the unique clip of the film that they helped make possible.
Over 10,000 projects have been financed through Kickstarter since its founding in 2009; if successful, Man-child would become the single most funded project to be listed in the narrative film category.
“Man-child has made it this far thanks to the independent film community, not only in terms of financing but also in terms of social media outreach,” said Koo. But with less than two weeks remaining in the fundraising campaign, the filmmaker hopes to inspire another group. “We’re just beginning to reach the basketball community. Their support at this crucial time will enable a story that should be told to make it to the big screen.”
Man-child takes place in a world where middle school athletes are nationally ranked, shoe companies are searching for the next Michael Jordan, and the NCAA has lowered the age limit of who is considered an official basketball “prospect”
The feature-length independent film follows a 13 year-old athlete, Terran "TJ" Jackson, as a a video of him playing basketball hits the Internet and turns his life upside down. TJ is soon nationally ranked and declared to be "the next Dwayne Wade" despite being in middle school.
While TJ is given a crash course in the world of youth basketball recruiting, he must choose between educational institutes, father figures, and belief systems. Koo said of the story, “the vast majority of talented teenagers will never make it as professional athletes, but it’s more than just a matter of athleticism. It comes down to the decisions they make. Few of us have ever had to face such decisions, much less at such a young age.”
Koo’s script for Man-child was recently accepted to the Independent Feature Project’s highly selective Emerging Narrative program as well as the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s inaugural Emerging Visions program.
Koo (full name Ryan Koo) co-wrote, directed, shot, and edited the "urban western" web series The West Side (http://thewestside.tv), which won the 2008 Webby Award for Best Drama Series. In addition to the Webby (the “Oscar of the Internet” according to The New York Times), Filmmaker Magazine selected Koo and co-director Zack Lieberman for its prestigious 25 New Faces of Independent Film list. Koo also founded the popular filmmaking website NoFilmSchool (http://nofilmschool.com), which Total Film named Best Creative Blog of 2011. In 2005, Koo was the recipient of an Emerging Artist Grant from the Durham Arts Council in Durham, NC, where he plans to shoot Man-child.
The Man-child Kickstarter project can be found at http://www.kickstarter.com/