Filmmaking husband-and-wife team Sara Ossana and Mathew Provost are appealing to the general public to help them finish a film about something they see as a public good. The duo, which runs the production company Studio Seven7 Films, has shot half of a documentary about books (as collectibles, as love objects), and bookselling. Now, with funding needed to finish filming and handle post-production, Ossana and Provost have launched a Kickstarter campaign, ending on August 18, hoping to raise $50,000.
Books: A Documentary is structured around Larry McMurtry's historic auction, in 2012, of over 300,000 titles housed in his used book store in Archer City, Tex., Booked Up. The project began, in large part, because Ossana is McMurtry's goddaughter and, she told PW, "he began my love of books."
Looking to do more than make a biopic about McMurtry, or a film about the auction, Ossana said they wanted to "shed light on [McMurtry's] history as a book dealer and collector" while making a broader film about books and the book business. The filmmakers are hoping to raise enough money to interview more of the people they met at the auction--among them independent booksellers, collectors and a few avid readers--and track what happened to the books they bought.
Ossana and Provost would like the film to delve into the current state of the bookselling business. Ossana said McMurtry, for one, thinks small bookstores are here to say and that he is "hopeful about the state of the book trade." The filmmakers also think the story they have to tell is not the one people might expect; theirs is not a film about the death of the physical book, or the bricks and mortar store.
"We weren't sure if the film would be a moratorium, or more uplifting," Ossana said. "It's turning out to be more uplifting." That, she thinks, is due to a larger cultural shift afoot in America--brought on by the country's economic need to develop a stronger foothold in the production of goods and in manufacturing--that is driving more people to ask where the objects they have come from, whether it's the food on their table, or the hardcover novel on their shelf. "There is a cultural awakening happening now," Ossana explained, "around what people find valuable. I think the book is a large part of that," she said. And, with that, Ossana thinks physical bookstores are becoming more important as "cultural centers" on the community level.
Looking to keep the project a grass roots one, promotion for the funding campaign has been helped along by a handful of connections Ossana and Provost made at the Archer City auction. Small pushes have come from the likes of Caitlin & Eric Stuart, who run the Arkansas shop The Full Nelson Books; they promoted the Kickstarter campaign on their Facebook page. Another supporter of the project is Rebecca Rego Barry, who wrote a piece about the documentary for the quarterly magazine Fine Books & Collections. Overall, Provost said, he and Ossana have been "reaching out to a lot of individuals in the book world."
When asked if they might seek financical backing from book publishers, some of which have deep enough pockets to possibly fund a project like this one, Ossana said they are trying to avoid any corporate support. Furthermore, she added, "we want the world of publishing to be a character in the story."