Lights, camera, funding?
The makers of a mystery-thriller movie whose cast includes actor Matthew Broderick and would be shot entirely in Buffalo Niagara are seeking local investors to round out the film's budget. They are scheduled to pitch to a local investor group this month.
Knockout Redhead LLC plans to make "The American Side" on a budget of less than $2 million. The company will make a presentation to the WNY Venture Association Forum on Sept. 12 in the Buffalo Club, as it attempts to raise $500,000 or more in Western New York.
Jonathan Shoemaker will produce the independent feature film, which he described as a film noir detective story, and Jenna Ricker will direct it. Ricker and Greg Stuhr co-wrote the film; Stuhr will also be the lead actor.
"The American Side" cast will include Broderick, Janeane Garofalo and Tim Blake Nelson, Shoemaker said. Knockout Redhead said it has raised $900,000 in private equity, mostly from New York City-based sources.
No funds will be spent until the entire project budget is met. But plans call for the film to be shot around the region, including in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, starting later this fall or early winter, Shoemaker said.
"Greg grew up there [in Eden] and he really set out to write a movie in and about Buffalo," Shoemaker said. A detective story is a natural fit, since it involves a character moving through a variety of places as the story unfolds. "You see a cross-section of life."
Shoemaker was a line producer on "Henry's Crime," a 2010 Keanu Reeves film that was partially shot in Buffalo.
"It's a very cinematic city," Shoemaker said. "It has great architecture. It has a variety of looks all within easy reach of other."
A project summary for "The American Side" mentions a footrace against a trio of Hummers up the Skyway, a game of cat-and-mouse inside a grain elevator, and a climax at the brink of the falls. The plot even weaves in Nikola Tesla, the genius inventor who helped unleash the hydroelectric potential of Niagara Falls in the late 1800s.
Shoemaker called the upcoming presentation to the WNY Venture Association "such a great opportunity for us."
The organization describes itself as a not-for-profit organization that aims to promote investments in Western New York and uses its forums to bring together entrepreneurs and angel and venture investors.
Featured presenters at the WNY Venture Association forums tend to be companies - often high-tech in nature - that are seeking to take the next step in their growth. (The other featured presenter on Sept. 12 is StormBlok Systems, which makes hurricane protection devices for commercial signs, ATMs and fuel pumps.)
Shoemaker acknowledged a film is an unusual kind of investment opportunity to go before the group. But he plans to use the presentation to explain the movie's potential and how it could enhance the region's tourism appeal.
The company said it is aiming to capitalize on the "Sideways" effect, a reference to the 2004 movie that boosted tourism in Santa Barbara, Calif.'s wine country, where the movie was set.
Knockout Redhead points to the financial success some modestly budgeted films - like 2007's "Juno," produced for $7 million - have managed to have, especially compared with expensive Hollywood blockbuster productions.