KOO LAUNCHES “MAN-CHILD” KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN
As a Filmmaker reader, you undoubtedly know Koo from his appearance on our 2008 “25 New Faces” list. Included in the “25” with his partner on The West Side web series, Zack Lieberman, Koo was one of the first filmmakers whose initial medium was the web to be profiled in our round-up. Since The West Side, which remains one of the web’s best narrative series, Koo has developed other projects, including his longest running: NoFilmSchool.com, an invaluable website covering DSRLs, editing software, crowdsourcing, new media, and Web 2.0 in general. One of the site’s best features is the pop-up you are presented with when you first visit it. For the price of your email address, Koo sends you his DSLR Cinematography Guide, which is an informative, well written, and beautifully laid out primer to buying and working with a DSLR camera.
Last year, NoFilmSchool was voted by Total Film’s readers as the Best Filmmaker Blog. The voting was obviously a sign of the strength of Koo’s community. And now that community is being given an even more meaningful mission — to fund Koo’s first feature. Titled Man-Child, it’s a story about a youth basketball, and Koo is trying to raise $115,000 on Kickstarter. I’m a believer in Koo and his work, so I’ve donated, and I hope you consider donating too. Here’s how he describes his project:
Man-child takes place in the surprisingly high-stakes world of youth basketball. In 2009, the NCAA lowered the age limit on who can be considered an official basketball “prospect” to include 7th graders. While there have been a number of basketball films made about high school, college, or pro athletes, today’s recruiting — legal and illegal — begins much earlier. It’s a fascinating and treacherous world which often leaves big decisions in the hands of little kids.
HERE’S A SYNOPSIS OF THE PLOT:
An amateur video of 13 year-old Terran “TJ” Jackson playing basketball hits the internet and turns his life upside down. TJ is soon nationally ranked among other 7th graders and declared to be “the next Dwayne Wade” despite being in middle school.
As a result of this exposure, free athletic gear and various hangers-on find their way to the doorstep of his small, predominantly-black Christian school. While TJ navigates the religious curriculum — and simultaneously a sexually active relationship with his girlfriend — he learns about the youth basketball world and the recruiting machine that powers it. With his newfound fame, he must choose between educational institutes, father figures, and belief systems.
A few years from now TJ could be a millionaire, but right now all he has is basketball. It’s a lot for anyone to handle — much less a 13 year-old.
The project has gotten an early boost from the IFP, which selected it for this September’s Emerging Vision Program. And Koo has made a video to describe his project and why it’s so meaningful to him. I’ll wait while you watch it.
Okay, Kickstarter videos need a hook these days, but I particularly relate to Koo’s split-screen. I’m very familiar with that guy on the other side of the frame, the censorious voice who squelches creative drive with an internal monologue of negativity. By getting this far, Koo has vanquished that guy, and now he’s relying on the community to get him the rest of the way. As the editor of a film website, I know how hard it can be to keep things going when there’s not an immediate financial reward and when you have other projects demanding your time. I’ve been amazed at how Koo, who is a one-man band, has built NoFilmSchool into an essential, daily-updated resource for filmmakers. So, I feel a little invested in his campaign. Seeing him hit that $115,000 will help convince me that the economics of web content aren’t just about CPMs and click-through rates.
Jamie Stuart and I have been making a series of short videos that you’ll be seeing soon on new filmmakers, and Koo and Zack are two of the folks profiled. After shooting I took my own camera, a Panasonic GH2 (here with the 14-42mm kit lens) and asked Koo to tell us a bit about his film and the campaign. When I got home, I downloaded the footage, stuck it in iMovie, and cut together a short piece. But it was windy, Koo wasn’t wearing a lav, and there were people talking in the background. So the sound isn’t so good. And the only music I had was a library track from Apple. I wasn’t going to upload this at all… but hey, that’s that guy on the other side of the frame talking. So if you’d like to hear a little bit more about Koo’s project, check out the video, warts and all, below.