The Kickstarter campaign commenced April 26 and is set to run until June 3. The fundraising debuted to a record high raising $7k in just 24 hours. The production team premiered its special online event dubbed ‘crowdathon’, setting up a phone line where supporters could call live on YouTube and talk to the cast and crew about the film. This new unconventional fundraising method proved to be a hit!
Directed by former San Francisco School of the Arts film student Joe Talbot, produced by Rolla Selbak and starring Jimmie Fails, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is a feature-length narrative film currently in pre-production that is inspired by the real life of 20-year-old native San Franciscan and co-screenwriter Jimmie Fails.
The story grew out of Fails’ family’s experience: His grandfather, like many African-Americans in San Francisco, arrived during the World War II years, worked a well-paying job, bought a home. But by the early 1990s, there was no generational wealth transferred down to Jimmie Fails’ generation from many years of hard work and fiscal responsibility. Fails’ dream is to buy back the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Now living in the city’s last, dwindling black neighborhood with his oddball best friend, Prentice, they search for belonging in the rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.
The Fails family story is similar to that of thousands of black San Franciscans during the past 20 years, and it is coming together at a time of heightened awareness among some city officials, culture watchers, and academics about the shrinking black population here. The black population declined by more than 35 percent in San Francisco between 1990 and 2010, and today represents about 6 percent of the city’s total population of more than 805,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
More than a film about tough economic times and changing political landscapes in San Francisco, it’s first and foremost a story about two inseparable misfits who are searching for home in a city they can no longer call their own.
Selbak is an award winning filmmaker who is part of the San Francisco Women’s Film Institute Leadership council, and is responsible for creating and producing the S.F International Women’s On-line Film Festival. She’s queer, an Arab-American and a woman. But that hasn’t stopped the self-taught auteur from writing, directing and producing films that matter to her – including “Last Black Man in San Francisco”.
The already buzz-heavy film has not only garnered impressive media coverage (Indiewire, SF Weekly, SF Chronicle) but is also now a finalist for both the Sundance Producing Lab, as well as the prestigious San Francisco Film Society grant.
The trio – Talbot, Selbak and Fails – are inviting fans and cinephiles alike to make a contribution to help fund completion of the script and the start of local production.
“If you can tell a compelling human story, and if it has political implications, people will recognize that,” Fails says. “But the best way to reach people is through a human story that everyone can recognize.”