Couple Crowdfunding Martial Arts Documentary

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A local couple is hoping to raise funds to finish their martial arts documentary, “Warrior Arts Deadly Dance.”

Al and Jayne Cloutier are independent filmmakers based in Honolulu who have made seven films over the past seven years. Al is an independent filmmaker and commercial videographer who came to Hawaii from New Hampshire, and his wife Jayne is a Swiss-born surfer who is now an accomplished director and camerawoman.

Al says that they’ve already found a wealth of material in the islands.

“We’re fortunate because we have a wealth of world class martial artists right here — Hawaii is the gateway to the West in many respects,” Al tells me. “In fact, Hawaii has a direct link to one of the most popular Karate styles, Goju Ryu, as the founder Chojun Miyagi visited and taught here back when he was formulating the style.”

“We’re also blessed to live in Hawaii with stunning backdrops all around,” he adds.

The Kickstarter campaign is mainly to raise funds to send the pair to Japan to capture some overseas scenes.

“The footage from Okinawa and Japan will increase the production value tremendously and give it a more cinematic feel,” Al says.

The fundraising goal figure caught my eye: $3,333. I asked Al where that number came from.

“$3,333 is a lucky number for us,” he says. “We’ve researched the cost of flights and feel we can get there and back for approximately $2,500.We also have some friends there who can help with inexpensive accommodations, so with cheap meals — ramen, et cetera — I’m confident that $3,333 will be sufficient for 10 days.”

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The Kickstarter deadline is next week Saturday, and they’ve raised $855 so far. While Al says he’s hopeful, he’s also not worried.

“It is highly possible that we will not reach our monetary goal,” he admits. “Truthfully, the money is not all that important to me, as I consider Kickstarter first and foremost a free promotional tool… and I find that setting up the campaign also helps refine our vision for the film.”

The pair’s previous film to make a go of it on Kickstarter was  “Makua Charley,” a horror film set in Waikiki. Its Kickstarter campaign raised over $4,600. But even that missed the $7,7777 goal they had set.

“Once that campaign ended, several folks who had pledged still set us money via PayPal or by check, so we ended up with $3,500, which we used to pay the primary actors,” Al says. “We also delivered the same rewards we had promised once the film was completed.”

“Warrior Arts Deadly Dance” will be made either way, and Hawaii’s talented martial artists and scenery will more than suffice.

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Al’s passion for filmmaking is clear, and his credits include both film festival award winners and commercial footage that has been used in both national and local productions. And “Warrior Arts Deadly Dance” is an exploration of a topic he loves, as he practices karate every Sunday morning at Magic Island. But the current series of films that he and his wife have produced and released on DVD and via on-demand services also have a more practical purpose.

“We started doing this after reading Tim Ferris’ book, ‘The Four Hour Work Week,’ back in 2008 — he talks about creating passive income streams,” he explains. “Our goal is to build a large enough library of films which, over time, will generate additional income.”

Al admits that they are not getting rich yet, but they keep things simple and they do earn royalties every month.

“When you consider that most indie films don’t make a penny of profit, and ours are all making a profit mode shortly after they are released, I would say we’re doing pretty well.”

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