02 September 2011


I try not to talk about money here. It's boring. You don't want to read about it any more than I want to write about it. You'd much rather read about films or look at pictures of people making films. That's why you're here, right?

At the same time, you aren't stupid. You know the score. I'm averaging 4,000 miles a month on a budget that projected 800-1000, tops. And sure, some of those chunks are cheaper than others (flying is much cheaper than driving these days) and some of those miles have been subsidized by productions (the Europe trip, for example), but that's still way more miles than anyone was expecting.

Which leads to the question I get more than all others combined: "how's the budget doing?"

Well, it's still there.

I've gone into pocket on numerous occasions in a proactive attempt to protect it, and it's still there. How much? Let's say "less than the travel costs thus far".

I've talked about this before, but this is a really tricky thing to project. There's a ton of factors, most of which involve these 3 questions: 1) How far apart are the projects in distance? If I can go from Boston to New York to Philly, that's a lot easier than going from St. Paul to Seattle to San Francisco. 2) How many days will there be with no production? Production days are easy. The production feeds me and there's no place to spend any money. I can easily go two or three weeks without spending a dime. Days off are harder. I can't really buy groceries, so I have to eat at restaurants or coffee shops. Places with free wifi are ideal. I've gotten really good at stretching those dollars. 3) The kindness of strangers. In Berlin, for example, every time I tried to pay for something, it was already taken care of. And they did it in German, so I couldn't even protest until it was too late. Our German friends, by the way, have been unbelievable, all the way back to the Kickstarter campaign. (The UK too)

Back to the chart up top. That is my ballpark projection of how confident I am that the budget will hold out long enough to finish the month in question. Right now, we're 6 1/2 months in. So I'm pretty sure we'll get to 7 months. I feel pretty good about 8 months, which will get us almost to the Flyway Film Festival in Pepin. After that, well, you can see the drop.

This, of course, assumes we bring in $0 the rest of the way.

I'm confident that won't be the case. Already some really wonderful people have made donations to our Paypal account to keep the trip going. Those people are amazingly awesome. Later tonight (or maybe tomorrow) I'll list the names of those that allow at the bottom of this post.

Here's how you can help:

1. Donate

See this image? That'll take you directly to the Paypal account. Is it tax-deductible? No. Will it give you a warm fuzzy feeling? You bet.

2. Buy something

If my information is correct, the t-shirts should be shipped. I'm not sure. I'm supposed to be on vacation. Adam at Camden Printworks has been kind enough to do the t-shirts for us at cost. So, he works them into the schedule wherever he can. I haven't gotten mine either. But he says they look great. I believe him.

3. Book us

There's no point in my roaming around the world if all I'm going to do is sit in a coffee shop in Muncie, Indiana and talk to the locals about the weather, the corn crop, and the state of Hoosier basketball. We all want me to be on films, doing cool shit, and writing about it. I mean, isn't that the whole point? So, get me on your production. I'm a nice guy. Honest. And I work hard. Hell, I'll even yell at your PAs so you don't have to.

4. Put us up

Got a couch? I'm a pretty good house guest. I'll eat anything. You'll hardly know I'm there. I'll even imortalize your couch on this webpage.

5. Sponsor us

Do you own a business or work for a business that listens to your opinion. You can sponsor A Year Without Rent and we'll spend a month or whatever singing your praises all over the internet. We'll start saying stuff like "Day N of X, brought to you by OmniCorp", but with your company instead of OmniCorp. Talk to myself, Nina, or Jaime and we'll figure out something that works for everyone.

6. Starbucks!

If you want to do something a little more concrete, here's something we just realized was possible.

I do a lot of work in Starbucks. They're easy to find pretty much everywhere in the country and they all have free wifi, which is super helpful on the road. It's a great way to get a lot of work done in an area where you don't know where anything at all is. Honestly, without places like that, we'd be fucked. Turns out, you can put money on my Starbucks card without actually having the card. And I know, Starbucks isn't as good as small Mom and Pop coffee shops and yadda yadda yadda, but finding a small Mom and Pop coffee shop on the road that makes decent coffee and has free wifi is a pain in the ass. Anyway, you can go here and enter this card number (I'm pretty sure you need more information than this to take money off or use it to buy coffee): 6038 1319 8909 0715. You should see a guy on a sled on the card image.

7. Spread the word

Tell your friends about the project. They might like it. All this free publicity for filmmakers is no good if it exists in a vacuum. Post the links on Facebook. Send out tweets. Be that crazy guy in front of the grocery store. Whatever you want.

So there you have it. A couple of ways you can help make sure this little road show doesn't get cut down before completion. Because, hey, it would really suck if A Year Without Rent turned into 9 Months Without Rent, which sounds more like a romantic comedy where Katherine Heigl falls in love with a homeless guy who got her pregnant. And who among us wants to be responsible for another shitty Katherine Heigl romantic comedy?

Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.