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Once Were Fundraisers

A day after going public with its equity investment crowdfunding campaign, Lee Tamahori’s The Patriarch has received pledges totalling over $64,000 against the $500,000 it’s seeking.

The film, based on Witi Ihimaera’s 1994 novel Bulibasha: King of the Gypsies. Formerly travelling as Bulibasha, The Patriarch was offered NZFC production funding in October 2012 and, subsequently, advanced development funding.

Tamahori has been otherwise occupied in Europe for much of the last several years, first on The Devil’s Double and presently with the Adrien Brody-starring Emperor – both for Belgian production company Corsan.


For The Patriarch, a number of team assembled for Once Were Warriors return. As well as director Tamahori, OWW’s Temuera Morrison and producer Robin Scholes are also on board. The script is by John Collee (Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, Creation, Master and Commander).

The Patriarch pitch video

The fundraising campaign is one of the first in NZ to offer an equity stake in a project, since the Financial Management Authority only made it legal in April. Snowball Effect, the platform hosting the Patriarch campaign, and PledgeMe offer the service here.

Naturally enough, everyone involved with the production is busily talking it up, stressing the team members’ track records and credentials. It’s a bit of a shame the launch couldn’t have been launched immediately off the back of MTS’ 20th anniversary screening of Once Were Warriors and Julian Arahanga’s Where Are They Now? documentary (which Scholes EPed).

The campaign claims that the money being sought is the final 5% of budget and will complete the film’s financing, and that the investors will form a part of group that’s first out when it’s time to recoup.

What sort of return will be on offer is, of course, unknown. While the production doesn’t have to return all its $10 million budget before the investors who are first in line start to recoup, $500,000 is a substantial amount of funding to raise – a couple of Escalator titles, if you like. There’s also limited evidence of international pre-sales at present, something many potential investors would no doubt like to see as proof a project can attract interest in overseas markets.

In its first 24 hours, it’s gone off with a bang, both in terms of generating substantial mainstream media interest and getting the dollar counter rolling. The intention, if the fundraising campaign is successful, is to begin work on The Patriarch in December.