Ross Bigley is no stranger to fundraising.
In his role as president of the Milwaukee Independent Film Society, Bigley has spent more than a decade establishing and cultivating relationships with area businesses big and small. As the writer, producer and director of more than 50 short films shot in the Milwaukee area, Bigley is adept at creatively stretching a microscopic budget for maximum production value. And for feature-length endeavors like the crime drama Petty Cash, Bigley shot scenes over a long period of time, raising money the whole way through.
But for Bigley's latest venture, the Chinese-immigrant Western Yellow Hill, the veteran of film financing is shaking things up a bit. Instead of assembling a run-of-the-mill production kit to woo potential investors, Bigley is assembling a talented cast and crew to shoot a short film prequel that demonstrates the style, characters and action they can expect from the full-length feature. “The Yellow Hill films are meant as an homage to the films of Sergio Leone,” explains Bigley, “but with a modern twist.”
Yellow Hill: The Stranger's Tale is currently prepping for production in the Badlands of South Dakota this May. Starring internationally famous actress Bai Ling (The Crow, Crank 2, Petty Cash), the short will follow Bai's character of The Stranger as she discovers the fate of her father, who disappeared a decade earlier. The film will also feature a collection of Milwaukee and Chicago-based talent, including Elvis Thao (Gran Torino), Cyn Dulay, Joshua Parkes and Cheryl Roloff.
All that's needed now is about $2,000 to cover the remaining production costs. “Shooting on location is expensive,” admits Bigley. “But we've figured out the absolute minimum it will cost to make this film. The location is secured, the wardrobe deals made and the actors are in place. We just need to raise about $1,700 by Friday, May 4 in order to bring it all to life.”
To that end, Bigley and his production team have established a crowdsourcing campaign on IndieGoGo.com, which has taken advantage of social media and Bai Ling's worldwide appeal to build a deeply-invested fanbase for the film. “To make Yellow Hill an independent success,” says Bigley, “we need the completion funds and an audience to drive theatrical expansion. Crowdsourcing the money online is a great first step to building that audience, but we want people to Tweet and blog about us if they like what they see. Share our IndieGoGo link with friends who might be interested. Anything and everything helps!”
Bigley invites anyone who has an interest in local film to check out the IndieGoGo page and consider joining the “Yellow Hill Gang.” A wide variety of giving levels come with their own unique benefits, from acknowledgment of your donation on the Yellow Hill social media channels ($5) to a listing in the “Special Thanks” section of the film's credits ($25) to being named a full Producer ($1,000)! “Even a $5 or $10 donation helps,” says Bigley. “Every pledge lifts the quality of the movie and is gratefully appreciated.”
“This a passion project for all involved,” he says. “Our script and the experience of our outstanding producing team have earned us a magnificent cast, the best production resources, growing social media support, and a shot at making a Yellow Hill feature. For the last few years we've worked hard to get to this point, but the film cannot be completed without support.”
You can donate to the Yellow Hill: The Stranger's Tale IndieGoGo page until Friday, May 4, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time). You can also keep up to date on the film's progress in the following ways:
Film Blog: http://yellowhillthefilm.blogspot.com/