From Kickstarter to Kicking Ass – Zak Forsman on ‘Down and Dangerous’

Recently I’ve been talking to a LOT of independent filmmakers. All of them – all of ‘us’! – have the same goal: Create something great and get it seen by as many people as possible.

Zak Forsman is no different than many of the filmmakers I have spoken to, at least as far as the goal is concerned. The differences – of which I am sure there are many – lie in that Zak has had great success with his indie crime thriller ‘Down and Dangerous’.

Recently Zak ran me through the story.

Zak’s primary platform for fund raising was Kickstarter. Some have had great success with it – many have not. Zak put together a very successful campaign by focusing on his core values. Not giving away gimicky rewards for the various levels of donation, but running on a simple theory of delivering a fun, entertaining crime thriller full of action.

Zak’s Kickstarter Campaign

Through Kickstarter he raised $35,000 and an additional $15,000 outside of the platform. That was the entire budget – production and post – covered through backers.

I asked Zak where the money went to – a question often asked by new filmmakers trying to figure out budgets. The top 4 items were ‘food, cast, crew and locations. Shooting over 36 days in 24 locations food was essential to keep the crew going. Around $10,000 of the $35,000 production budget was spent on food.

Zak had a crew of six, with himself as the ‘writer, director, cinematographer, make-up artist, stunt choreographer, and armorer’. In post Zak handled visual effect, sound effects and did the 5.1 mix himself in ProTools. With post production time on his side, without a doubt learning all these skills saved him a whack of money.

When the movie was complete Zak focused on sales.

First came theatrical rights, sold to Artis Entertainment. Zak viewed theatrical as a loss leader – it’s primary benefit being that on the VOD release they could tag the movie as ‘Now Playing in Theatres’. VOD buyers like to think they are ‘scooping the market’ and getting something in their home that the other putzes are having to get out to see.

VOD rights went to Gravitas Ventures, who handled getting the film onto iTunes, xBox, playstation, vudu, Amazon Instant, YouTube,  Netflix and Hulu. Also almost every North American cable and satellite provider bought in, exposing the film to a potential 100 million VOD subscribers. In the first six weeks they sold 10,000 copies of Down and Dangerous

I asked him about the new players, the outliers, in the online VOD world – like Distrify.

so much time goes into negotiating this stuff that i have to let the untested, niche and developing platforms fall to the side for now. there doesn’t seem to be enough revenue to be made there because so few viewers are using them. my philosophy is to go to the platforms where the people already are, rather than exert more energy trying to lead them to something new. 80% of our VOD sales were through cable and satellite. 18% were through iTunes. and the remaining 2% were from all the others like amazon, xbox, etc

BluRay/DVD rights went to Origin Releasing.

At the time I spoke to Zak international rights were out to a sales agent, with deals already sewn up in Turkey, Benelux, Scandinavia, and Mainland China.

Looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see that Zak’s battle has been successful. He made his own indie feature got it out in front of a paying public and, I imagine, made his money back and more. That is all any producer/filmmaker can ask for.

Oh…and he made a pretty good looking film too!

Find Zak at his website and follow him on Twitter

You can find Down and Dangerous on iTunes

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Phil Smy

I am currently a student in the Raindance Film Degree Masters program. This site comes from the research I am doing as I learn more about film production and distribution.

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