NASHVILLE, TN - Across, the film about the life of America’s first black priest, has been chosen by FaithFilmFund to be the pilot project for it’s new crowd-investing consulting service in conjunction with TruCrowd.com. The movie project began as a short film, and now is being developed as a two-hour feature. Set in the late 19th century, it’s the story of Father Augustine Tolton. The Catholic priest was a courageous figure in the pre-history of the Civil Rights movement and now is being considered for sainthood in the Vatican.
Writer/Producer Christopher Foley oversaw the production of the short film and now is working with producers Joan Tankersley, Princella Smith, and Jon Graham to get the feature in front of cameras and into theaters. “Father Tolton lived a flat-out incredible American adventure,” said Foley. “You don’t need to have an interest in period dramas, civil rights history or Christian film to get on board with Father Gus. You just need to like great stories.”
FaithFilmFund was started by Graham in order to meld the huge surge in faith-based movies with the crowd-funding phenomena. But, he says, there is something unique about his company. “We have partnered with an SEC approved portal for investments, so it’s not like the crowd-funding you are used to. Technically, we facilitate the ‘equity crowd funding’ process - what we like to call ‘crowd-investing,’” said Graham. “For as little as $100, you actually can participate in the revenue from the film.”
Most crowd-funded projects are based on donations, but FaithFilmFund, working in conjunction with TruCrowd, actually sets up their funds under guidelines from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Although the initial development fund for Across is only a small portion of the film’s budget, their site lays out their planned path to production and a theatrical release.
The crowd-investing fund is only part of their strategy to success in independent movie making. While courting the public, the producers are also pitching to big-name film producers in several genres. Tankersley is currently at the Cannes Film Market, putting the project in front of an array of Hollywood’s movers and shakers. “As a narrative, Across has both an American foundation, but a global appeal,” said Tankersley. “The script provides some surprises, but it remains a crucial, untold storyline of great faith and great sacrifice woven into the landscape of America. I love this story.”
Story is still king in the industry. So, telling the tale of a runaway slave from Missouri, who ends up being ordained in Rome, is bound to draw interest. Producer Princella Smith joined the project after a presentation at another filmmaker gathering, FilmCom, last year. “As a black American, it is so exciting to learn about unsung heroes from the past, because it gives us so much hope for our future,” she said. “Father Tolton is one hero that our kids can point to and see that talent is more than dribbling a basketball or running a football.”
Crowd Investing is a new concept - only put into effect in 2016 as part of the JOBS act. Many types of start-up businesses are taking advantage. However, the only known faith-based films to try it are VidAngel’s The Chosen, a series about the life of Christ - and Graham’s own Kind Katie. Graham successfully raised over $80,000 of his development budget while VidAngel’s campaign has raised a whopping $10.2 million in the first phase alone.
The Across team knows there is a long way to go until their movie makes it to your local multiplex, but they are confident that the Crowd Investing strategy will raise both interest and funds. “America’s love for the movies is not just about watching them,” said Foley. “We love the stars, the soundtracks, the awards, the locations. And having an actual stake in the game with this fund - it’s a little like being a co-producer.” To read more about the fund - or to invest - look for the link at www.AcrossMovie.com, www.FaithFilmfund.net or www.TruCrowd.com.