EXCLUSIVE: Last year’s American Film Market keynote speaker Adam Carolla is returning after successfully crowdfunding $1.4 million for his first film in seven years, with the semi-autobiographical comedy in post and a message to studios and financiers: “I just made a movie without you assholes, and it will be better than 92% of the shit Hollywood cranks out,” he said via phone from his Glendale headquarters. “I’m standing in my own studio – because of what? Because of CBS, because of Sony, because someone let me do this? I don’t need any of these assholes.”
Carolla admits his outspoken past and accusations of homophobia and misogyny might have turned off traditional investors. “Did the way you acted at the last party affect your invite to the next party? I can’t tell what I’ve missed out on,” he said. “I’m tired of dealing with the networks. I don’t think it’s helped, and it’s probably hurt. It’s academic because I basically have my own studio now, so it doesn’t really matter. But I never wanted to go that route anyway.”
His first film, The Hammer (produced and distributed by The Weinstein Co.), might have been his last if not for crowdfunding. “I had no intention of rattling the can by going to investors and studios. I was burnt out on that,” he said. The host of the most downloaded podcast around (The Adam Carolla Show) and a two-time NY Times best-selling author, Carolla has appeared on Dancing With The Stars, created Comedy Central hits The Man Show and Crank Yankers, and boasts more than 457,000 followers on Twitter and 119,000 more on Facebook. Tapping into a fanbase eager to see another film from him made Road Hard possible: Co-written and co-directed with longtime producer Kevin Hench, the project hit its $1 million goal on FundAnything.com in 32 days and capped at $1,449,706.
“The last time I did this, it was demoralizing,” he confessed. “The product came out good, but it was so long in the making. I realized through podcasting and writing books, do it for yourself. Do it yourself.”
Carolla will address the AFM pros in an Industry Conversation on November 9 to discuss the crowdfunding success and distribution plans for Road Hard, one of two feature projects Carolla shot this year. The second film, a documentary chronicling the 35-year racing career of actor Paul Newman, was funded out of pocket and shot over the course of a year and a half. Neither project relies on traditional investors.
“When you make a movie with someone else’s money, they want to get their money back,” he said. “When you say, ‘We’re gonna wait six months for Sundance, or come out six months later, they’re gonna say, ‘No, you’re not.’ You entered a business agreement with these people. You can’t just say, ‘I’m an artist, I’ll do what I please’ – then you raise the money, you cut the check next time. If somebody gives you a large amount of money, whether it’s to make a movie or build a condominium project, if you say we’re not gonna break ground for a year, that’s not gonna fly, and I don’t blame them. It makes it complicated if you have investors.”
Other celebrities have capitalized on crowdfunding venues to fund passion projects, from the Veronica Mars crew to Zach Braff to Spike Lee. Carolla sees continued promise in the direct-to-fan landscape, including VOD and digital distribution.
“I think it will last just like any facet of our economy if the product is there,” he said. “If fans don’t like the product, they’re not going to pay for the next product. I believe enough people liked the last film I did, The Hammer, that enough people trusted in me. If Road Hard stinks, I think it would be a very difficult hill to climb to get money for the next film from the same people. But if people enjoy the product, I think they’d say, ‘This is the only way the film is getting made, and I paid for the last one’ – it’s like paying for a movie in advance. I wouldn’t have made this movie otherwise.”
Carolla’s Road Hard – A Comedian’s Journey From Crowdfunding To Distribution conversation will take place at 3 PM November 9 at the AFM Studio in the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Additional conversations and keynote speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.