The current economic climate might not really seem to be the time to try to raise nearly $185,000 to try and make an independent, feature-length film, but that's not stopping Milwaukee filmmaker Tate Bunker.
Bunker, along with Found the Ribbon Films -- run by The Wicked Hop co-owner Miles O'Neil -- is pounding the pavement and working the phones to finance what they call, "a high-end, low-budget, simple and captivating film to screen and sell at a major festival."
That film is called "Resurrection Ferns," directed by Bunker and written by Susan Kerns.
It is expected to be completed by autumn.
Found the Ribbon's investment proposal describes the film as, "A contemporary Little Red Riding Hood tricks her family and sets out on her own to contend with the wolves of the world. She meets a slight older, worldlier companion, and together they venture to see the wild horses of Cumberland Island. The reward does not come easily or without a price. It's ‘Thelma and Louis,' with less baggage."
At the new year dawned, Bunker -- who teaches in UWM's Film Department and is a well-known figure in the independent film scene in Milwaukee -- was already hard at work making "Resurrection Ferns."
"I have just started production today and will rap the Florida part of the movie Jan. 16," said Bunker via e-mail from Florida.
"We are still trying to raise funds and hoping to shoot the Milwaukee footage in mid February. The full Milwaukee crew is down here now and we have finished two days of principal photography."
In their proposal, Bunker -- who has directed more than 30 films over the past decade -- and O'Neil -- a former student of Bunker's at UWM -- note that $35,000 has already been raised and it is that seed money that has helped Bunker get started on filming with actors like Mark Metcalf, Hannah Obst and Paige Bunker.
He says that the economy has definitely affected the making of "Resurrection Ferns."
"The economy does worry me and it is not very wise to blow all your money on a movie, especially now, but thats what I am doing. It is the most I have tried and if not for the current economic situation, I would have met my desired budget," muses Bunker.
"Working to fund the film through investors was working until this summer when everything started to fall. Promised investors slowly started pulling out, as a film is a risky investment. So much so that Miles and I are the principal investors."
But, in the end, says Bunker, he's a filmmaker and money will always be an issue and at the same time, is never an issue.
"It doesn't concern me too much, I have been a starving artist for 20 years now and as a filmmaker, this is what I do. This is who I am. If I won a million dollars tomorrow, I would blow it all on another film. I can't help it."
And the progress of the film?
"Things are going great and our spirits high," says Bunker.
So, if you've ever wanted to own 50% of a film (or some portion thereof), a fine Milwaukee filmmaker and his executive producer have got a proposal for you.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.