BRIDEGROOM, the documentary about tragedy befalling a gay couple and the inequalites that result from a lack of marriage protections, has become the highest funded film in the history of Kickstarter.com. The fundraising website, which has helped to finance more than 7,400 films, confirmed that the indie documentary about marriage equality surpassed all previous fundraising efforts by netting $384,375 in four weeks.
The entire story of BRIDEGROOM is a testament to the power of social media. On the one-year anniversary of his partner Tom’s death, Shane Bitney Crone posted a video to YouTube entitled, “It Could Happen to You.” The video takes the viewer on a ten-minute journey through Shane and Tom’s relationship, their commitment to marry if it were to become legal in their state (California), their attacks and rejection from Tom’s family, Tom’s tragic death, and refusal from both the government and Tom’s family to recognize their relationship.
The YouTube video was shared widely on social media sites and posted by prominent celebrities, including: Neil Patrick Harris, Sara Gilbert, Fran Dresher, Denise Richards and Piers Morgan. The video also grabbed the attention of Designing Women creator and Man from Hope director, Linda Bloodworth Thomason, who contacted Shane to bring his and Tom’s story to the large screen. Shane and Tom’s story resonated strongly with Bloodworth Thomason. “The prejudice and bigotry that Shane and Tom experienced was not unlike what I witnessed in 1986 when my mother died of transfused AIDS,” she said. To date the video has more than 3,000,000 views.
To fund the film, the team turned to Kickstarter, a popular funding platform for creative projects. The team set a goal of $300,000 to be raised within a one-month window. Fundraising was assisted by the endorsement of high profile people and organizations. GLAAD posted a blog post, encouraging its followers to support the film. George Takei, known as the “king of the internet meme,” posted the original video, as well as the Kickstarter link twice.
The project achieved its goal well ahead of the Kickstarter deadline, but donations continued to pour in. In the end, the 6,508 individual donors raised $85,000 above the $300,000 goal. They will use the additional funds for more filming on location, better music, and a wider distribution. They hope to release the film in the fall.
“This is more than we could have ever hoped for, including the tremendous support we got from organizations like GLAAD and people like George Takei, Neil Patrick Harris, Sara Gilbert, Fran Dresher, Denise Richards and Piers Morgan,” Bitney Crone said. “As the debate over Marriage Equality comes to a head, we would like to get Bridegroom out before the election. Our hope and belief is that Tom’s and my story will change hearts and minds in a way that no film or lecture ever could.”
“While saddened that not enough progress has been made, it was enormously encouraging to see the support and love that poured out of people during our Kickstarter campaign,” added Bloodworth Thomason. “It truly is an honor to be able to tell Shane and Tom’s story.”
The success of the BRIDEGROOM Kickstarter campaign is a testament to the power of individual stories. Shane created a video that demonstrated how the lack of marriage equality has harmed him. That story resonated so strongly that 3,000,000 viewers watched, and 6,508 funders backed the film. GLAAD congratulates Shane on the success of the BRIDEGROOM Kickstarter campaign.
GLAAD is continuing to work with Shane to share his story and the harms facing LGBT people who are denied marriage equality. Shane will also appear next week at GLAAD's Hancock Park: Bravo Top Chef Invasion event with celebrity host Fran Drescher.