The strange story of an unfilmed, crowdfunded zombie movie.
the following piece is a reposting of an (edited version of an) anonymous blog from 2011 about the increasingly infamous film project Invasion of the Not Quite Dead. Over the last couple of years, I’ve tried – and failed – to write about this film myself, as Twitter spats between the director and his critics exploded. Many people were querying why the film has still not been made despite constant, relentless fundraising efforts (director AD Lane was notorious for his ‘tweetathons’, anything between 24 and 107 hours allegedly without sleep where he would tweet constant requests for donations), but any criticism – or even casual queries – would be met with a flood of abuse, accusations of bullying and veiled threats from Lane’s supporters, who presumably think taking money off people for eight years without delivering anything is just dandy. Something about this project felt very, very wrong to me, and as someone who is very supportive of the idea of crowdfunding – a system that requires a certain amount of trust all round – this story seemed potentially damaging to future projects. But of course, I don’t know the truth of the story.
In the interests of fairness, I emailed Lane to ask for his side of the story, and he agreed to me sending him a series of questions. However, once he received the questions, he declined to answer any of them, instead making a statement that he understood the problems, and was stopping his crowdfunding efforts and now concentrating on making the film. He posted a similar message on his blog. That was in September / October 2012. The film has, of course, failed to materialise, and Lane has frequently resumed his funding tweeting. In fact, he tweets constantly, but rarely about the film and never to offer any progress reports. Beyond a rather poor promo reel, shot on 16mm film – because that’s that you’ll film on for a low budget movie than hasn’t raised all its financing yet, obviously – I don’t know if anything has been done on this movie, up to 2020. Neither, it seems, do his backers. Bear in mind that this project began work, and funding, in 2007.
The questions I asked, and AD Lane’s response, are appended at the end of this post.
Anybody who has been on twitter for the past few years will likely have come across AD Lane and his @indywoodFILMS presence. He is the guy who has been doing a crowdfunding campaign (from his own site, not through an established, reliable site – in fact, his fundraising began before Kickstarter etc existed) for about eight years now. For nearly a decade, he’s been trying to fund his dream project – a zombie film called Invasion of The Not Quite Dead.
Almost a decade. That’s a hell of a long time. A long time to be asking for money (most crowdfunding campaigns last between 30 and 60 days, he’s been going for around 3000). A long time to not give up on your DREAM.
Let me put that time scale in perspective. It took two years to write, fund, and release Pulp Fiction. The Lord of the Rings trilogy took six years from official pre-production to the release of the third film. In the same time span, Anthony Lane has been ‘working’ on his dream project, the entire series of Saw films were made and released. That is seven films. All completed and released from the same franchise.
He was originally asking for £20,000, but then changed his targets to first £100,000, then £250,000. The budget listed on IMDb was $2 million. But of course, how could he know just what the budget was if he had never even had a finished script, as he readily admitted on his website?
Unfinished screenplay or not, there are a lot of big names who were involved and have since dropped out. Names thrown around at various points include Danny DeVito and Johnny Depp (they were mentioned in early interviews). The photographer Philip Bloom was attached, invested £800 then never heard from Lane again. Zach Galligan from Gremlins has been connected, and Lane persuaded Ken Russell to be involved at one point (the pair seen ‘auditioning’ Ben Dover in a BBC documentary some years back). The attachment of these names hasn’t exactly hurt Lane’s fundraising efforts.
Then, there are the constant changes of release dates – 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014 have all been thrown around (actually he promises the film will be out each year on Halloween). So what has Lane been doing in this time while supposedly dedicating 100+ hours a week on his DREAM?
Well, he got involved with four other horror projects (films that, admittedly, have yet to go into production). He’s filmed an awful lot of videos of him talking about his dream, and he went on tour with Wheatus and started to make a documentary about them (again, still unfinished). Yes, that’s right. While putting 100+ hours a week on his dream project, he decided to give up valuable time and money to go on tour with a faded band around the UK and Austria (and New York). Why? Why did he do that? Why did he waste time and money when he was already years behind schedule? Not weeks. Years.
So back off tour, time to focus on his dream project, right? No. He continues work on the documentary which also is a couple of years behind schedule given the release dates he himself quoted. So at this point in the indywoodFILMS story, he’s not just years behind on one film, but two. He’s directing and funding two films at once, all while working on 4 other films, all while working 100+ hours a week on his dream project, which at one point he claimed to have raised £80,000 for – a budget higher than some indie films I’ve seen. This amount of extra work would be bad enough for a healthy man, but Lane is apparently far from that. He’s been suffering from lodged kidney stones, which have slowed him down and a few years ago, he was injured in a car crash, which caused further delays. He just can’t catch a break!
Then there’s the recent change of indywoodFILMS to indywoodENT (indiewood entertainment). This new name has also brought a new side project for Lane. Super slow-motion video. Yes, that’s right. They’ve started doing another project in the midst of all of this. Oh, and he’s now offering himself as a consultant for people looking to run successful crowdfunding campaigns.
AD Lane, September 25 2012
AD Lane, March 2014
All this lack of progress is bound to cause the more untrusting to get a little suspicious. Questions began to be asked on Twitter. This didn’t go down well. When a couple of Twitter users asked, very politely, why it was taking so long, Lane and his closest followers ganged up on the users and called their critics bullies. That’s right, several people called one person a bully. And they called him a KNOB. In block capitals. All because this person dared to asked why a dream project had gone on for so long and had the release year pushed back six or seven times. I wonder if they would do the same to me, knowing I am a woman?
For some reason or other, the majority of people are staying quiet, and I don’t think it’s just because of the aggressive reaction any questions receive. If you invested your money in a project that never appeared, you might feel a bit naive and foolish. You might not want to draw attention to your mistake. But more and more people now seem to finally be asking those awkward questions. Lane’s dedicated supporters will try to shut them down, but they can’t silence everyone.
If you have been involved with this project and are no longer, then speak up. There is power in numbers. Among us are people who have backed the project and are frustrated with the lack of progress and the lack of answers. I myself once supported them and backed them.
AD Lane posted in the first years that in the unlikely event of the film not getting made, then people would be given a refund (this is printed in the Grimsby Telegraph). We think it is time that it happened. That anybody who is not happy having invested in this project be able to ask for their money back and be given a full refund and perhaps as a good-will gesture, a written apology from Anthony Lane for wasting their time and breaking promises.
In 2012, Lane asked for the benefit of the doubt until Halloween 2013. That release date has long gone. It’ll soon be Halloween 2014. As far as we know, no actors have been called up, or zombie extras been given the nod that shooting will be starting this summer. I hope it does, but past events don’t suggest it will.
We have a right to call him on this and to question, because it is our money he is using. It is our twitter feeds he spams. It is us who pay him, and that makes us his employer. And we demand answers. Is that really so outrageous?
Questions sent to AD Lane September 2012:
How did this project come about?
What gave you the idea for crowdfunding? This was pre-Kickstarter etc I believe?
Our budget on IMDB is listed as 2 million. Isn’t that a lot for a low budget zombie film? And the budget on Wikipedia is set at £100,000. What IS the budget for this film?
You’ve been quoted as saying you’ve raised £80,000 so far. Is this true? If not, how much have you raised?
(I ask this because the whole point of Kickstarter, Indie Go Go etc is that you can see exactly how close to their goal people are. That level of transparency is missing here).
As this money will qualify as income, you’ll obviously have to pay tax on it. Is the tax being paid out of the money you have raised?
As fundraising seems to be pretty much a full-time job for you, how do you earn a living?
Is the money raised kept in a separate business account?
Has any of the money you’ve raised been spent? And if so, on what?
What do the people who have given you money get in return? Will they own a percentage of the film?
One complaint I’ve heard is about a lack of communication. How often are you in touch with investors to keep them up to date?
Has anyone asked for their money back? And if so, did you refund?
Why did you shoot your promo on 16mm? Wasn’t this spending money better invested into the film?
You have various names attached to the project, notably Zach Galligan. What guarantees have you promised him (no need to go into financial figures, but has he simply agreed to lend his name to the film to help raise money?)
You appeared on the BBC’s Ben Dover documentary ‘auditioning’ Ben with Ken Russell. I assume this was a publicity stunt?
You tell me you begin shooting in November. Your website talks about intro shooting in early 2011. How much has already been shot?
Do you think it is fair to use investors’ money to start shooting a film that you don’t have the full budget for yet and so risks not being completed? Would it not be better to hold off any shooting until the full budget is there?
Given how long it has been between starting the project, doing the shoot last year and now, have any cast/crew members dropped out?
You’ve been pushing this film for five years now. Is there a point that you would accept that you won’t raise the money needed and refund investors?
Do you worry that you have now missed the zombie movie boom and are doomed to be buried amongst a plethora of low budget zombie films clogging up the DVD shelves?
What is your end game for the project? Festivals? Selling to international distributors? Self-distribution?
Do you understand why people are asking questions about the validity of this project? How can you reassure people who have doubts?
Looking back, and given the recent questions on Twitter, would you do anything differently given the chance?
AD Lane’s reply, 25/09/2012:
First off David, thank you for taking the time to ask these questions, if truth be told, it has upset me to see, that certain people have either lost faith in me & my project or just simply put me in some kind of category of a con man, I have got so caught up in the fundraising side of things, it didn’t occur to me, that I would be doing my project more harm than good, by continuing on, & its because of this, I have had a real good think about things, hence why I put a blog out last night saying that I was just going to concentrate on making the movie, with just one last farewell fundraiser for Halloween… & again, if we’re being truthful, the pressure of fundraising so much & for so long had made me very depressed, so its actually a huge weight of my shoulders to just say, enough is enough, we will make the best film possible & restore peoples faith in me because at the end of the day, I’m hoping to inspire indie filmmakers, not give them a bad name… I’ll sort you out with your answers shortly…
AD Lane’s reply 01/10/2012:
I appreciate that you wanted to help by doing a big story & interview, but I’ve decided I’m just going to make the project more transparent with a new website, & do some video interviews, & really go all out, with making the project about what’s been done & what we’re doing right now, & for the backers, a 1-year schedule of events… I’m actually glad we got a few people speaking their minds, because it made me realise a few things, first off, that I was spending way too much time fundraising & not concentrating enough on updates & showing in detail of what we’re doing, this is now being sorted, we’re now getting ready to begin shooting in a couple of months, but in the meantime, whilst sorting everything out, I’m also sorting out a new site & emailing all the producers to connect them to a new newsletter for regular updates, but I just wanted to thank you for bringing some concerns to my attention & not trying to have a go, but just simply say, people have concerns…
I’ve also realised that the world has waited too long for ‘INVASION’, & over the next few months, we will begin making it, for a HALLOWEEN 2013 screening, & I can understand that there are some people who just don’t believe this film will happen, hopefully, over the next few months I can show them all it will, & those who just want to hate on the project will always find something to have a go at, all I can do is, is make the film everyone has put their faith in, & make those people proud, the truth is, I’d been getting very down & depressed with all the fundraising & how long it had been going on, so we’ve spent the past week updating the script & we will be making the film work with the budget raised.
As of March 2020, there is no sign of the film being completed.