Are you a fan of Michael Jackson? Love your documentaries? Interested in helping out projects via the wonders of crowdfunding? Then we think that MOONWALKERS is right up your street. We spoke to one of the team behind the feature length project, BAFTA-winning filmmaker Tristan Anderson…
First of all, tell us your name and the title of your project, and a bit about it…
My name is Tristan Anderson and I am the producer of MOONWALKERS, a feature length documentary that follow the lives of three Michael Jackson impersonators as they search for fame and fortune in Hollywood. It’s a film that also looks at the nature of the America dream and what it takes to achieve that.
Tell us about how the idea came about…
Tom Goudsmit the director was working on another documentary film in San Francisco when he first saw our three impersonators dancing together. After watching them he was struck by their energy, enthusiasm and love for Michael Jackson. Talking to them for a while, he felt like he had to make a film about them and started filming with them the next evening. Cut to four years later and we are very close to having a finished film. Tom and I have been self-funding the film for the last four years of production and are currently crowd funding the film on Kickstarter:.
What draws you to the medium of documentary?
For me documentaries are the most exciting and interesting form of film-making in the world at the moment. The power and reach of a good documentary is extraordinary in this day and age.
Filmmakers are able to use multiple styles, genres and even subject matters within their films. I personally feel more connected to the world and humankind after watching a good documentary, with our film we also hope that the audience will be entertained.
With the nature of documentary needing more paperwork done, like clearances, how has this faired to your previous work? With a music personality being the core I resume there’s a lot more!
We have been very clear from the start that our film is not an official Michael Jackson film. It’s pretty clear that within our film we are focusing on the lives of our contributors and not the main man himself. Paperwork wise, the main challenge has been with music clearance, which is an ongoing challenge.
I think that people forget how long the process is for a documentary, what have been the highs and lows (so far)?
From time to time we would put the cameras down and have dinner with the three Michael’s. There were a few times when I had to pinch myself – I’m sitting in a restaurant eating pasta, having a casual conversation with three full blown MJ impersonators in full get up. It was slightly bizarre in a wonderful way.
Filming with the guys was always a great experience, just walking down the street with them, things just happened. MJ still has such a legacy anyone who came in contact with our three Michaels tends to be “smiles all around”.
As a documentary programmer yourself for DocHeads, are you constantly fighting the battle of what programmers will want to see in a festival circuit sense, or are you staying focused to what you want to explore as a filmmaker?
From my experience many festival have a particular type of film they like to screen, so if I were to make a film that I thought would get into lots of festivals, it would be a mixture of so many subjects and styles. I do feel there is a lack of lighter docs and ones that are funny but with a serious backbone, which is what we are aiming for with MOONWALKERS.
What equipment have you been shooting on?
Do you have plans to head onto the festival circuit once the project is complete?
Absolutely, after the crowdfunding is (hopefully) successful, that’s the next main job.
How important is the festival circuit journey for you?
We hope that a film like ours would be able to connect with an audience globally. The more festival screenings we are able to secure then hopefully the more success the film will have. Due to the tone and style of our film we have high hopes that it would be an audience pleaser / audience awards winner!
You’re stepping into the world of crowdfunding to help finish the project; have you run a campaign before?
No neither myself or Tom the director have done this before. We are hoping this might be an advantage, as we have not asked our networks for support before. We have completed most of the filming and need to raise the remaining funds to pay for the edit and one final shoot out in the US with the guys.
In preparation for this it feels like we are looking out to sea about to swim off into the horizon without knowing what the water is like, if there are any islands out there for us to arrive on, or any sharks in the water!
You’ve opted for Kickstarter as your platform of choice – any reason?
At this stage in production, it’s really all or nothing for the film. So we decided to go with Kickstarter due to the way their platform works i.e. if we don’t hit our target we don’t get any of the money. I also feel the quality of other campaigns on Kickstarter are really high so helpfully the community there will also see that in ours.
Tell us about some of the rewards that are up for grabs…
We have been cheeky and named our rewards after classic MJ songs. We have a variety of rewards from streaming of the finished film (This is it), tickets to the films premiere (Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough) as well as co-Producer and Executive Producer credits aka The King (or Queen) of Pop.
For those interested in the film making side of things supporters can spend a day with the team in the editing suite and / or be with us on location when we do our final filming in the US. I’m also offering full day master classes in film making for other people projects, something I do as a guest lecturer at universities.
There is one reward I really like called ‘Rock With You’, which gives supporters the chance to have a video of them dancing in the credits of the film. Hopefully after people watch the pledge video on our Kickstarter page, they will WANNA BE ‘KICKSTARTING’ SOMETHING!!
Head on over to Kickstarter and pledge your support for this brilliant sounding film! Thanks to Tristan for talking to us about the project, and we look forward to see it lighting up the circuit.