Here’s an article we wrote for Fni last month!
At this point I think we’re all aware of Fund It and the crowdfunding revolution it has been spearheading in this country. Many of us have been guided through the sometimes tough, more often rewarding process by the lovely Martin or Andrew or other members of their great team. While most projects are asking for modest sums some have aimed that bit higher and been successful. One of the website’s many, many success stories is Kevin de la Isla O’ Neill’s feature film, The Hit Producer: a story about a fledgling movie producer with a talent for contract killing! The film sees Phantom FM’s Michelle Doherty in her first leading role and also stars a plethora of Irish acting talent.
The film was produced and directed by Kevin who, after leaving school in Mexico, worked as a theatre and soap actor (Carrusel de las Américas) in Mexico City. Following his roots, he moved to Ireland in 1996 and studied film & TV in Coláiste Dhulaigh and Film as a Fine Art & Languages at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. He has written and directed several short films including, A Kings Tradition (9 awards at NYCmidnight 2006, including Audience Award and Best Director), The Wacky Diary of a Pick Up Artist (NYCmidnight 2005 Best Director).
He has also worked as a camera operator, A.P. and editor for TV3, Setanta and RTÉ.
He directed the sell out stage production Stoker (2009) at the New Theatre, Dublin.
He edited The Confession directed by Thomas Hefferon, which screened at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. In 2010 he won 1st prize in the Irish Jameson/Empire Done in 60 Seconds competition and ended in the top 10 out of over 5,000 entries at the International finals with his version of ‘The Departed’, which he shot, directed and edited.
He went on to win 1st prize for the second year in a row, in the Irish Jameson/Empire Done in 60 Seconds competition with his version of ‘Shadow of the Vampire’.
At the beginning of 2012, he directed 3 short films for the European Women’s lobby about Family Reunification. In June 2012 he was a finalist in the short film competition of Ford’s 8 minutes in Cobh, Co. Cork with his entry “Hope”. Over the last 12 years he has gained experience and worked in many other film departments such as Make-up, locations, sound and editing. Most recently he produced and directed the feature film “The Hit Producer”, which is currently in post-production.
Kevin took some time out of a grueling schedule to give me the nitty gritty details of his funding process and a bit about the production.
“We started our campaign on Crowdfunder.co.uk We were advised that as this was a European/UK site that we would get a bigger audience, but this wasn’t the case. The support you get from the site itself is very minimal, it also didn’t take laser cards, only credit cards and had to go via PAypal. This made us lose a lot of supporters. After this we decided to pull the plug and go to Fundit.ie. The support from day 1 was immense and we were asked to think about the rewards in a way that if ourselves or our peers and families would buy them and seemed accessible enough, then it was a good reward.
We were looking originally for 25K sterling which was around €30K, on fundit.ie we asked for €18k. It seemed to be a very high amount to get in 2 months, but we proved successful. We managed to cross that line and also cover the 8% commission that fundit takes. It was tough coming towards the last week but there was a lot of commitment from people in the beginning that just needed that extra push. A lot of people would say that they would support but left it for the last minute. A fanbase in facebook and twitter is needed for these campaigns. It is advisable to get the fan-base before you start your campaign otherwise failure will be an option. We tried to do a pub quiz but this isn’t as successful as the crowd-funding campaign is.”
Speaking about the experience and those who funded Kevin says “ Keeping your funders in the loop is great and making them part of the team helps you get closer to the finishing line, they ultimately are your ambassadors, they will spread the word for you and you need their support and help, without it, you are completely in the dark.”
There has been much in the media about ‘The Hit Producer’ something Kevin attributes, in part, to it becoming a bit of an ‘underdog story.’ “We have also had great support from newspaper and radio.. We knew what we were doing was very ambitious but at the same time very achievable with the right organization. We had the support from all the cast and crew from the very beginning. The majority of the roles were already cast before the campaign started, so we had their full commitment and support and their friends and family’s support. Believing in the project made us cross that line.”
When asked about taking on the role of Producer/director on such an ambitious project Kevin says that “Being open to opinions and taking them onboard is crucial.
I have directed and produced before so I’m no stranger to this. However it is the first time that I embark on something this big. However I wasn’t alone, I had help and support throughout of Niall Queenan, the screenwriter, Jass Foley, the Director of Photography, Susan Barrett who was acting in the film but also worked as Line Producer, so when everyone wants the best possible outcome things become easier. It would’ve been easier if I had an AD helping me with schedules etc but it wasn’t something that could be set in stone, we had to be very open to changes in shooting days as we were working with all the cast and crew’s availability, which was sometimes clashing but they all tried to be accommodating as possible. We couldn’t have done it if they all hadn’t been as open and supportive.”
The ‘Hit Producer’ wrapped principal photography in December and is in post production. The film will soon embark on its festival run with high hope for Cannes. On these shores I am told it will have a general release later this year, definitely one not to miss.