With just two days left in its Kickstarter campaign, the film adaptation of Lullaby, a book by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk, has surpassed its base fundraising goal by nearly $100,000. With the film now guaranteed to be a go, Digital Trends caught up with its producer, Josh Leake, to find out what it takes to bring a Palahniuk novel to the screen. The quick answer, it would seem, is a lot of money — and no small amount of luck.
There is no major studio attached to Lullaby, a fact that Leake was quick to bring up. “It’s not something most studios want to touch, just based on subject matter,” Leake says. Like much of Palahniuk’s other works, Lullaby deals with some pretty dark stuff, including a string of mysterious infant deaths. “This isn’t a story that’s going to resonate with Disney.”
Leake is based in Portland, Oregon, where Palahniuk spent much of his life, and is a filmmaker and the founder of the Portland Film Festival. In the festival’s first year, the headline draw was a short film based on Palahniuk’s Romance, a short story that had been published in Playboy. Leake and Romance director Andy Mingo would go on to form Mindpollen, an independent studio, through which they eventually found themselves in a position to option the rights to Lullaby.
Leake and Mingo looked to Kickstarter to fund the project, partially to avoid the hassle of trying to find a studio that would take it on, and partially because they wanted to begin production as soon as possible. “There is some intelligence to optioning something and taking five years to get it done, but I prefer to fast track and get on with the next project,” says Leake.
(From left to right) Chuck Palahniuk, Andy Mingo, and Josh Leake.
Deneb Catalan / Mindpollen
Deneb Catalan / Mindpollen
With this being Leake’s first attempt at raising money through Kickstarter, there were many variables in play. On one hand, they had Palahniuk’s sizable and dedicated fan base, boosted by the fact that Palahniuk is a screenwriter on the project. On the other hand, they lacked the A-list talent required to really bring in large amounts of money. They decided to start with a modest base goal of $250,000, with the hope of getting more.
The project was helped out by mentions in major entertainment media, including Entertainment Weekly and Indiewire. It was also a featured project on Kickstarter. Leake says the process of running and promoting a crowdfunding campaign involved much more work than he realized. “It sucks, but it worked,” he says. “For nearly six months before the campaign launch, Andy, Chuck, and I met every day.”
Leake said it won’t be a problem to make the movie with the amount of money they have, but the team would really like to be able to attract strong talent to the project, and that means being able to pay for it. But, at the end of the day, “the difference between a good film and a bad film isn’t the budget, and I think we have a pretty incredible story,” says Leake.
Filming is set to begin sometime between October of this year and February 2017, depending on the availability of talent. Leake can’t disclose who they’ve reached out to, but he’s visibly excited about what he describes as a couple of potentials.
At the time of writing, Lullaby has raised more than $337,000. Interested backers can support the project for as little as one dollar. Incentives include sneak peeks at Palahniuk’s upcoming Fight Club 2 graphic novel, Lullaby swag, and the chance to be “virtual producer” with voting rights on certain aspects of the production.