"The point of the story is: they robbed a bank with a telephone."
~ Emmanuel Lubezki in American Cinematographer about shooting To The Wonder.
Hello, everybody. This is Chad, the guy behind this site. I am coming to all of you today, directly, because A Bright Wall in a Dark Room has arrived at a (very promising) crossroads—but if it’s to go any further, we need your help.
It has been vitally important to me over the years to keep BWDR a clean, ad-free and independent reading experience, and as a result not a single penny of revenue has ever been generated from this site (in fact, I’ve ended up putting my own money into it). Instead, for nearly four years now, BWDR has been an enormous and ever-growing labor of love. I have happily poured thousands of hours of work into this site since we first opened our doors in 2009, and countless others have pitched in behind the scenes as well to help build this site into what it is today: a fiercely-independent, vibrant community of film geeks, artists, and writers. And all that hard work—along with the support of your devoted and passionate readership—has led us to an exciting turning point of sorts. Which is why I’m coming to all of you today, as transparently as possible.
We have been given a rather fantastic opportunity to turn BWDR into a real (but still independent!) online magazine in the very near future, operating under a model that will allow us to not only pay writers a bit for their tireless and amazing work going forward, but will also allow us to deliver to you a vastly superior BWDR experience, in terms of content, design, and readability. It’s an exciting chance for us to turn BWDR into something both more regular (in terms of content delivery) and more real, without having to sacrifice a single ounce of our style, integrity, passion, or dedication to the site’s original mission. But if it’s to work at all—if it’s to even get off the ground—we are going to need some help today.
We have reached a point in the process where we need to generate some funds in order to get the whole thing up and running. Not a lot, by any means, but enough so that it’s a barrier to us moving forward at the moment. And we so badly want to move forward. (Seriously, I wish I could show you right now how amazing a BWDR magazine is going to look; but instead, just trust me—I’ve seen the prototype and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing).
So here is the part where I ask you for money. Again, not a lot. Any amount—$3, $7, $22, $45—helps enormously, and all the money we are able to raise will go directly toward funding the initial starting costs and overhead of the magazine and its very first issue, which will be available to you, for free, in May.
Let me say that again—any and all money we receive from you will go directly to paying our initial overhead costs (start-up fees and hardware), as well as to paying our (currently unpaid) writers, editors and illustrators (yep, we’re doing illustrations for the magazine!) for all the freelance work we will feature in that very first issue.
Now, I need to be fully transparent here: there will be some further costs down the road. The magazine that we are working to create will eventually become something that we charge a minimal monthly subscription fee for. The first issue will always be free, nothing changes that. But after that, we will only be offering a very limited amount of BWDR’s new content for free on this site each month, with the majority of it being channeled into the new BWDR Magazine. And that magazine—which I can promise you will be lovingly built through tireless amounts of work and dedication on our end—will be available to you for $1.99 each month. In other words, for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Not because it’s not worth more to us, but rather because it’s deeply important to us to make the magazine available to you at a price that won’t put any real dent in your wallet, but will still allow us to pay both our writers and our bills.
We feel this is an exciting new model and opportunity for all of us—writers and readers alike. A way to prove to whoever’s watching that a thing like this is economically sustainable. That a few passionate people can start a site—simply and only for the love of something and the desire to write about and wrestle with it in unique, personal and interesting ways—and eventually grow that little site into a successful and profitable magazine without an ounce of compromise, outside meddling, or advertising influence of any kind. That freelance writers and illustrators can and should be paid for the hard and brilliant work they do. That a community is willing to support a labor of love like BWDR if they’re approached directly, transparently, and in good faith. That this is a business model that works. That we can do this.
So, please, if BWDR means something to you—if you love it the way we love it—consider a donation to the site today. If you’re someone who reads BWDR on a daily or weekly basis, or perhaps has been particularly moved by an essay or theme week we’ve run, consider throwing $10 or $20 in the coffers. Believe me, it would go a long way for us at this critical juncture. And if you can kick in $100 or more, you’ll get your name listed in that very first published issue, as well as the opportunity to select a film (any film!) that you want to see written about in the second issue.
Or maybe you’re someone who has enjoyed the site a little less often, but still believes in this thing we’re trying to build and want to support that in some real way. Well, for just two dollars—less than a cup of coffee—you can. Two dollars to help support and sustain all of the passion, dedication, late night hours and love that has been poured into this site for nearly four years. Two dollars to keep this place ad-free, independent, and committed to putting out the highest quality content for you that we possibly can. Two dollars to let us know you’re with us on this—and to help us grow and transition BWDR into something truly amazing.
Without you, I don’t know if we can do this. With you, I’m absolutely sure that we can.
Chad Perman, Editor-in-Chief
If you’re viewing this on tumblr currently: CLICK HERE TO DONATE
If you’re viewing this on the actual BWDR site currently: click on the handy yellow “Donate” button on the left-hand side of this site.
(Either way, the actual donation part of this should take less than a minute of your time.)
Best $10 I spent this week. This is really exciting and you all deserve it. Can’t wait to see the results!
It felt like the vengance of nature.
LTC: It’s monstrous because the world is monstrous but also because as orchestrated and choreographed and formed and shaped by us…the conventions of cinemas—like all art and science have different conventions at any one time but they can be broken and formed and re-congealed—is that we didn’t want to conform to all of the formulas of documentary. We knew we wanted to resist whatever norms and forms of documentary defined the proper way of going about it. So first of all, humans don’t get private place in the way they do in most documentaries, there’s not an obvious plotline, it’s proto-narrative or interjectory, there’s some kind of arc to it but you don’t come away from it feeling edified or feeling this character development.
I think it would be reductive to try and compare it to anything else cinematically.
LCT: Don’t you think it’s absurd that we’re—especially in this country—supposed to think, oh this is what a documentary is like, this is what art’s like, this is what cinema is like. We’re all sensing, imaging, meaning-making, confounding, confused, struggling individuals working through metaphor, through images, through sound, to try and make sense of our lives and never quite succeeding. And the idea that this is how documentarians do it and this is how all these other people should do it and they should meet and rub shoulders with each other and borrow and blend and explode each other is just absurd.
I can’t wait to see Leviathan. Also by the same director, check out Sweetgrass
Guido: “What is this flash of joy that’s giving me new life? Please forgive me sweet creatures; I didn’t realize, I didn’t know. How right it is to accept you, to love, you… and how simple! Luisa, I feel I’ve been set free. Everything looks good to me, it has a sense, it’s true. How I wish I could explain, but I can’t… everything’s going back to what it was. Everything’s confused again, but that confusion is me; how I am, not how I’d like to be. And I’m not afraid to tell the truth now, what I don’t know, what I’m seeking. Only like that do I feel alive and I can look into your loyal eyes without shame. Life is a party, let’s live it together. I can’t say anything else, to you or others. Take me as I am, if you can… it’s the only way we can try to find each other.” [click image to play the greatest and most imaginative final scene in the history of cinema]