Often here at The Sexy Armpit I refer to “J.D,” as if he was my pal. Of course, I’m not really friends with him in real life because he’s more of an introverted cryptid, a recluse. Trying to get him out of the Pine Barrens and into a bar or dance club to blow off some steam is futile. Maybe I can try to get him signed up for some Zumba or crossfit? I don’t know, but at some point he should relent, because he might be able to work out some of that pent up aggression he has. Chances are, you don’t know the Jersey Devil on a personal basis either, but the ridiculous scenario I just described would probably be a more entertaining angle than some of Kickstarter campaigns we’re about to look at. In this post we will look at five failed Kickstarter projects featuring The Jersey Devil.
One of the reasons why films centering around The Jersey Devil rarely get greenlit is because the ones that do get released are notoriously shitty. It’s no different with these campaigns. There’s an element missing in each. Not so much an “It” factor, but often it’s indescribable. No, I’m not saying that each one of these projects should have a killer clown in it, but they would’ve benefited from an original angle that we haven’t seen before. A fresh perspective on the story is vital, but then again, there’s only so many ways you can tell the story of the 13th child. The look of the Jersey Devil is open for debate, but cheesy CGI doesn’t do him justice. I have a feeling someone will get it right someday, who knows, maybe it will be Tim Burton or James Wan, but what’s certain is that the following campaigns weren’t destined to become the definitive Jersey Devil movies.
If there’s a solid screenplay that a writer believes in, it doesn’t always mean that there there’s a well orchestrated fundraising campaign to go along with it. Back in 2010, a writer/director named Lee Albright created a Kickstarter to merely fund the creation of a teaser for a movie based on his screenplay about the Jersey Devil. This dream project for Albright only wound up raising $500 dollars, a far cry from his $18,000 goal. 18Gs for an indie teaser? You’ve got to be f’n kidding me! Many full-length independent films can be made with less money than that.
When looking to the public to back a project that’s merely to make a teaser that will hopefully elicit more funding to make the actual film is convoluted. Instill some confidence in the public and, at the very least, show them that you’re up to the task of making an actual film by making the teaser yourself, otherwise why would we give him money?
Making things even worse was the fact that the only bait being dangled for us is a horrible sub-VHS quality teaser that teases a teaser. It’s hard to expect people to plunk down their hard earned money when none of these interest piquing assets are on display. Since the screenplay was complete and available to buy on Amazon, it would’ve been nice to have seen a few story boards of possible scenes, sketches of characters, or some photos of possible shooting locations. We got nothing except an absolutely horrible bit of video of what is supposedly intended to be video from the Jersey Devil’s perspective soaring through the Pine Barrens. The video actually works against Albright’s campaign.
A lot of bragging gets included in the summary of how the film will be made, a “proprietary aerial filming technique…will have audiences holding onto their seats as the teaser unfolds.” It’s anyone’s guess what all that jargon really indicates, but judging by the video that’s up at their page now, the films I made with my giant camcorder in 7th grade had way more lines of resolution. Are they planning on strapping a video camera to one of those Red Bull gliders and send it through the Pine Barrens? Maybe they should’ve told us that!
We’re left with a conundrum with this one. The Jersey Devil movie was on Kickstarter during the few days it took me to write and compile this article, but as I went to take some screen shots over at Kickstarter – the page was completely gone, vanished from the site. After that I went on a mission to make sure I didn’t have some type of Blair Witch 2 style delusion where I lost a few hours of my life, there seem to be signs of The Jersey Devil movie elsewhere on the Internet and I was thankful for that because I didn’t feel like I completely lost my mind.
The project, written and directed by Benjamin Jones and Scott Miller from Exit 7A Studios, was unsuccessful at Kickstarter. Their URL for their site at GoDaddy (thejerseydevilmovie.com) is vacant, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the film won’t ever see the light of day. Adding to the mystery is that their Facebook page hasn’t been updated since January 2013. Usually, even when a production runs out of money or something worse happens, someone will take the reigns and post a message stating that the film is no longer in production or something along those lines. In this case, the film was never announced as completed, but their Facebook page indicates that special effects were created and at least a chunk of it was filmed.
Although I can’t confirm at this point whether the project is officially dead in the water, I will commend them about changing my mind about their production. After only viewing their failed Kickstarter page, I was not impressed in the very least because two things got under my skin.
First, their YouTube trailer seemed OK, but the quality was extremely digitized and since the lighting was purposely very dark, it was insanely hard to make out what was going on in it. Upon more digging though, I found another YouTube user (Richard Plumeri) who had a much better quality non-digitized version on his page. Seeing this made me more interested in the film. Of course it’s still not a major motion picture, and probably as low budget as it gets, but its Kickstarter campaign was completely misguided.
Their pitch came off as generic and teetering on obnoxious. One of the lines in their Kickstarter went like this: “Instant bragging rights are given to the 8.5 million residents of New Jersey who can now say, ‘They’re finally gonna make a good movie about our Jersey Devil.'” That’s not a selling point. Tell me why this film will be any different than the other J.D films. And we are in New Jersey, we NEVER have bragging rights about anything. If you read the The Sexy Armpit, you know that New Jersey is the Rodney Dangerfield of the United States.
This one is way more easy to fathom. Breathe easy because it’s a documentary. I was thinking that if this was a doc that would be created in a style like Cropsey or even Lake Mungo, content producer Christoph Chaoss might have been successful. I can’t say there was too much wrong with this campaign other than the fact that their trailer should’ve included a few bits of interviews which would offer a better idea of what the documentary would be like. As it is, it’s just a bunch of shots around the Pine Barrens and a couple of sign posts. Pretty standard.
Sometimes a project on Kickstarter isn’t influenced by money or fame. Occasionally you’ll find one that originates from the desire to bring a story to the public in a grander way rather than just throwing up a low budget, homemade film onto YouTube. JoBert Entertainment and The Cremer Brothers have shown that they deserve to make this film for a couple of solid reasons. First, to my knowledge, they gave it their best shot by correcting the flaws of their first Kickstarter campaign and giving it another go. Several months later they came back with a Twilight Zone-esque video introduction that was light years ahead of their original video where the two filmmakers spoke to the camera in their hoodies and knit hats. That just wasn’t effective.
The guys still didn’t arrive at their desired funding number, but that’s not because they didn’t put enough effort in. I appreciate that they came back to improve on their campaign because they believed in their story – which is an aspect of their campaign that they presented in a much better way than everyone else here. These guys actually gave us an actual synopsis of their story, and it wasn’t a generic “Jersey Devil story,” like the rest of these. A journalist is investigating her hometwon legend of the Jersey Devil, and embarks into the woods to find out more about a mysterious shed that’s deep within. To me, that’s a great setup for a short film or even a modern Twilight Zone episode. None of the full length films in this post described even a vague idea of what their movie would be about, aside from featuring J.D himself. Good try guys, I hope you come back for another campaign because I’d like to see this get made! And like Body By Jake used to say, “Don’t Quit!”
Our next project was also promising. It’s impossible to trash Let It Be The Devil because it had a cool name and the filmmakers created an entertaining video explaining why they needed an exorbitant $100,000 dollars. They told us where the funding would go, and what aspect of the film they would be accentuating. Unfortunately, merely boasting that you’ll be concentrating on the story unlike other horror films is encouraging, but it’s not really enough to warrant me reaching into my pockets to fund the film. I just needed a bit extra to show me that this was going to be a fresh take on the Jersey Devil.
Yes, a good story is a must, but it would’ve boosted my confidence in the project to know that their vision was something special. Obviously filmmakers can’t give too many secrets away about their story because they might get stolen before the project sinks or swims.
The guy responsible for the project is Pablo Macho Maysonet IV from Vineland, NJ. He has a decent record on Kickstarter creating 5 projects and having 3 of them backed. Maysonet and his crew have had made two independent films and one of them gained international distribution while the other involved Stephen King. Pablo and his production company obtained the rights to make a film based off of a Stephen King story called The Things They Left Behind which was presented at film festivals throughout the country. If Maysonet and his crew ever give it another shot at some point, they need to lower their funding goal by at least half.
I’m an avid Jersey Devil freak as documented here on the site, but if you’re curious if I’ve never held a Kickstarter of my own, I haven’t, but I have backed a handful of projects on the site in the past couple of years, none of them J.D related. Contributing to the funding of a Jersey Devil movie is risky because not all the filmmakers are bringing something original to the table.
These unsuccessful projects add to the plethora of reasons why we don’t see more movies about The Jersey Devil. Unfortunately, last year’s The Barrens wasn’t anything special and I had high hopes for it. For fans of the legend, it’s disappointing, but maybe one day a big budget Jersey Devil film will fall into the hands of the makers of Sinister and Insidious, and then we may have our definitive telling of The Jersey Devil legend. Better yet, I would love to eventually see an indie filmmaker shock the world the same way The Blair Witch Project did, but with a truly frightening Jersey Devil film. Right now, I’m not holding my breath.