How YouTube fans helped finance feature Almost Adults

Sarah Rotella and Adrianna DiLonardo's (almost) all-female feature film is headed into production, bolstered by fans of the duo's 250K-strong YouTube channel.
Almost Adults

Production is underway in Toronto on Almost Adults, following a successful Kickstarter campaign bolstered by the fan base of the filmmakers’ YouTube channel.

Almost Adults, which tells the story of two college-aged best friends dealing with life as they change and grow apart, is directed by Sarah Rotella and written by Adrianna DiLonardo, who are also the team behind YouTube channel The Gay Women’s Channel.

In addition to providing DiLonardo and Rotella with an opportunity to branch out beyond the YouTube format, the filmmakers also felt they could build off the success of The Gay Women’s Channel to help finance the film, said producer Rebecca Swift. The idea worked – Almost Adults raised enough via a Kickstarter campaign that it is being financed entirely via the donated coin.

“We have always said from the very beginning that we needed the subscribers and the fans of The Gay Women’s Channel to make this film and we owe a lot to those loyal fans. They are the ones that allowed us to make this film and they are the ones that really supported and…wanted to see us succeed,” Swift said.

To encourage donations, the filmmakers offered perks such as attending table readings or appearing as an extra in the film. Running from March 2 to April 1, the crowdfunding campaign quickly surpassed its original goal of $40,000 to raise over $120,000 by the deadline. The film’s final budget came in at $105,000.

To maximize the modest budget, the filmmakers are saving on costs by employing non-union cast and crew and negotiated daily rates to fit the budget – all while trying to maintain a goal of having an all-female crew.

“That was one of the things we talked about even before launched the campaign, it was something that was important to us. We wanted to support other women…to work with other women and we wanted to get to know other women in the industry,” Swift said.

Though getting a 100% female crew wasn’t possible, the Almost Adults producer says she’s happy with the results.

“Our director of photography is male but that was only because we weren’t able to find a female DP that fit with our schedule and was available to work with. That being said, it was that much more important that we had a female camera team,” she said.

While no distributors have come on board yet, the filmmakers plan to enter the film into as many festivals as they can, including TIFF, Sundance and LGBT festivals, which is of great importance to The Gay Women’s Channel creators.

“The project also kind of drew the kind of people that support the LGBT community or are a part of the LGBT community and so we want the film to circuit all the LGBT festivals,” Swift said.

Shooting for Almost Adults will continue through to May 12, and while no release date has been set, the filmmakers are optimistic that the film will be finished by fall of this year.

Fans who contributed to the Kickstarter will receive a digital copy of the film via one-time download, although the specifics of such a setup have yet to be sorted out.

“We haven’t actually decided how we’re going to be distributing to them. We’re not [currently] working with a streaming site,” Swift said.