We all know what crowdfunding is, right? It’s when a bunch of people raise money for someone’s project. Simple enough. But have you ever seen over 28,000 people raise over $2 million USD for a full-length feature film they’ve only seen ten minutes of? That’s the magic of Code 8, and it’s real.
Director Jeff Chan and co-writer Chris Paré had an idea. With the help of producers Tommy Dingwall, Robbie Amell, Stephen Amell, Geoff McLean, Art Chong and Billie Aleman, they gave fans a concise ten-minute short film that would give them a taste of their idea. In a world where 4% of the population have superpowers, the other 96% use their own power of influence to oppress them. Robbie Amell plays a young man with electrokinetic abilities just trying to get by and keep his anger towards the system at bay.
After three years, four million views on YouTube, and over 28,000 backers later, the result is a film that’s about that collaboration and so much more. Robbie Amell (The Babysitter, The Flash, True Jackson, VP) gives a shocking—pun intended— performance that has you feeling everything he is. His cousin, Stephen Amell (Arrow, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows), plays his role solidly and honestly. This movie’s grittiness and no-nonsense mentality will have you thinking that the two are far more than just handsome faces.
It sounds super exciting, and it really is, but the process and production behind this film is even more thrilling. As an avid fan of the Amells and an even bigger fan of the realistic science-fiction genre, I’ve been following this project since the moment it was announced.
In early 2016, Robbie Amell took to the crowdfunding website, Indiegogo, to advertise the short film and ask for funding by selling items known as: “perks”. He and Stephen used their celebrity to raise funds by selling perks (like signed Code 8 merchandise). The film started production in June 2017, but the Amells still needed funds to add the finishing touches. In February 2019, an official clip from the finalized version was released and premiere dates were announced. A perk that came with attending the premiere was the chance to meet the Amells, get a Code 8 t-shirt, and more.
I was lucky enough to attend one of the premieres last month and actually saw my name in the credits (they even spelled it right)! If that wasn’t exciting enough, I got a chance to speak with the film’s director, Jeff Chan.
When I asked what it was like on set knowing the project was backed by so many trusting fans, Chan answered, “We made something that people responded to and got behind and supported. And I think – for us – it was a very heavy responsibility for us to do right by this. To make a movie that you have so many people excited about. And it was also something that we got to make our friends in the process. It’s very rare in this business to actually work with your friends, so when you can do that, it makes it all that more rewarding. It was the best experience of my life.”
We hear casts and crews say it was fun on set all the time, but this project looked especially fun because they included the fans. The Amells would post their trademark Facebook Live videos to answer questions and promote more perks, and the crew even allowed some fans to be extras as part of a perk.
Chan described the process as “rewarding” and I couldn’t agree more. I’m just a simple fan, but it truly is rewarding seeing a film you’ve invested your time, money, and interest in on the big screen. And to top it all off, it was actually an awesome film.
Code 8 went above and beyond. Without spoiling anything, the film not only tackled the complexities of poverty, but also the issues of drugs, police brutality, and gang violence. Code 8 gives you a break from the cliché superhero genre by hitting you with a taste of real issues.
It’s still unknown when and how fans who aren’t attending the premieres can see Code 8. However, the Code 8 team said they were looking at a few streaming services, but we don’t know for sure yet. I hope more and more people can see this film and experience the same excitement I felt.
If you’re not attending a premiere, but want to get a glimpse of the Code 8 world, check out their short-film and let me know your thoughts down below!
Nothing but love.