“It’s a Gallagher show if Gallagher was smashing heads instead of watermelons,” says director Sirc Michaels of his production of Evil Dead: The Musical, which has been playing to packed houses since it opened Oct. 15. “It’s gory, silly, fun — and is the perfect show for this time of year,” Michaels says.
It does seem like a custom fit for showgoers who love B-movies, fake blood and over-the-top Halloween displays. Make no mistake: This is all campy comedy, even more so than the Sam Raimi helmed Evil Dead movies on which they are based.
In addition to being a premiere for Las Vegas, what might be most interesting is how Michaels, and his team at Off-Strip Productions and the Onyx Theatre raised the funds to produce Evil Dead: The Musical. If there is a 21st century door-to-door campaign/bake sale/lemonade stand, it is the website Kickstarter. It’s exclusive to artists trying to make enough cash to back their upcoming projects, all paid for by the support of fans and fellow artists. Among other Vegas Kickstarter successes, local band Kid Meets Cougar generated enough dough to create new visual component (homemade videos that coincide with the songs they play on large screens) for their upcoming live shows.
Acclaimed Las Vegas filmmaking duo the Thompson Brothers (who made the festival-darling Thor at the Bus Stop) are working toward raising their production budget on their next film The Popovich Movie, about the titular Strip performer/animal trainer. With 32 days to go, they have 39 backers and have raised $3,665.
Sounds good, right? Here’s the catch. The Thompsons’ goal is to raise $28,000. If they do not reach that number, they get nothing. All the contributed money goes back to those who donated it. While it isn’t a risk for the campaigners, it is probably heartbreaking to come close to the goal, not reach it and go home empty-handed.
For Michaels, the experience with the site was all good. “Kickstarter is such a great resource for artists and arts organizations. With a show like Evil Dead that has such a large fan base, (I knew) it would be easy to reach people. Couple that with the fact that it is the Las Vegas debut, and it was a no-brainer. People would be willing to contribute.”
If anything, Michaels admits, he aimed too low, “Kickstarter suggests that you post a goal that is the lowest amount of funding you need, which is what we did. So we asked for $3,000. In reality we could have used $10,000. The trouble was, once the $3,000 was hit people seemed to get complacent about promoting it and so we only raised a little above that amount. I’m not complaining at all. In fact, I appreciate every single person who took the time to help us. It’s just a lesson learned for next time— when aiming for $10,000, put a goal up of $5,000 at least.”
With every completed production, donors are entitled to some type of creative compensation, whether it’s a credit in a film or in the case of Evil Dead: The Musical limited-edition autographed cast posters. And as Michaels explains, there is really no right way to get your money on Kickstarter, just as long as you get your money. “Some people donated quite a bit of money, while the majority were $10 and $20 donations. They really added up.” It’s only a matter of time for the Kickstarter campaign for the premiere of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: The Dance Spectacular.
Jason Harris is a local stand-up comedian.