Turnstyle has been closely following first-time filmmaker Aurora Guerrero’s journey to Sundance with her film Mosquita y Mari, beginning with her standout Kickstarter campaign to meet a daunting funding goal to produce the film.
When Guerrero launched the campaign, she had a script, a crew, and not much else. Not a single scene had been shot; for the promotional video on Kickstarter, Guerrero even had to stage a scene from the love story between two L.A. teenagers without showing the actors’ faces, since the film hadn’t even been cast yet.
And despite the wide network Guerrero had developed through her work as a community organizer in L.A., and then coordinating a project at Film Independent, she was cautioned that her goal might be overly ambitious. One of the people who was worried about the goal, and was also an early supporter, was Kickstarter founder Yancey Strickler, who met with Guerrero in Los Angeles before the campaign kicked off.
Strickler said Guerrero’s campaign followed a pattern that’s typical of Kickstarter projects.”The first couple of days, there’s a lot of attention, and a lot of excitement, and lots of pledges. And then things will go quiet for a few weeks, because it’s not new, and it’s not going away…people are kind of used to it. And then (near the end) we see…another big spark as people who’ve been waiting on the sidelines, they finally come in, and get involved.”
In Guerrero’s case, her fundraising campaign for Mosquita y Mari had gotten down to the wire: with just 48 hours left, it was still $35,000 short of its goal. Typically, Strickler said, there’s a 90 percent success rate for Kickstarter projects that have raised at least 30 percent of the pledge goal. But in Guerrero’s case, he said, “to have to make up this much ground in that little time seemed impossible.”
But in the last two days, Guerrero’s community lit up, perhaps, she jokes, because they were on “people of color time” — showing up fashionably late. “In the last 24 hours, literally we were getting donations every few minutes. People were Facebooking, Tweeting…someone had said it was like the finals of the NBA (during) a close game, everyone rooting for Mosquita y Mari to make it.” Guerrero was actively and publicly engaged with her followers during this time, thanking contributors via Facebook as the donations poured in. When she hit her goal, she said, she was alone in a friend’s living room, where she dropped to her knees, and cried. In the final tally, the film had 888 backers and raised more than $82,000 dollars on Kickstarter.
Strickler said he attributes Guerrero’s fundraising success to the storytelling prowess she leveraged for the campaign, which, as he points out, is particularly well-suited to a narrative-driven platform like Kickstarter.
And to date, he said, no one has made up a gap that big, that late in a campaign, besides Guerrero. “From the jaws of defeat came this great victory, and and remarkably, it came from almost every (pledge) being for less than a hundred bucks. Lots of people pledging small amounts of money, and it just built into this crescendo where she managed to meet her goal.”
After Guerrero raised the production funds, her next goal was to shoot the film in 30 days, and complete it in time to enter it in the festival. Clearly, the director does well with deadlines; Mosquita y Mari debuted to critical acclaim at Sundance.
Earlier this week, the film was picked up by Wolfe Releasing; its theatrical release is expected later this year.