Filmmaker Isaac Tomiczek’s latest project Blockbuster Boys is a dynamic coming of age story.
Isaac Tomiczek was recently one of twelve filmmakers selected for BFI Network @ LFF. He is also BFI Network x BAFTA Crew 21 and School of Hightide 21 alumnus, and currently, part of Stockroom writers’ room, a diverse collective of salaried writers creating work for the stage, that is challenging, relevant, and popular. In 2020, his short film Vacant Bass was commissioned by Channel 4’s Random Acts as part of their Black and Proud season. Isaac directed the short film I Just Stabbed Someone for BBC iPlayer, and his play Rebel Yeah was part of Vaults Festival. Isaac has original features in development with Joi Productions and Elation Pictures. He is also a leading figure for POCC – a collective working to positively change the experience of people of colour within the creative industries.
We spoke to Isaac about his new project Blockbuster Boys and why he chose to crowdfund his film.
Please introduce yourself?
Isaac Tomiczek, Mixed Heritage (Jamaican/Polish/Australian), writer and director.
Please share a word or sentence which best describes your life right now.
Busy, blessed, brimming with potential and tangible progress.
Tell us about Blockbuster Boys? Where did the idea come from?
Four teenagers on the run from school bullies end up lost in the woods surrounded by hidden dangers. To find a way home before sundown, they’ll use what they know from the one thing that ties them together – a shared love of cinema.
Blockbuster Boys is a coming-of-age adventure exploring the deep bonds of adolescence and the pitfalls of nostalgia. A love letter to childhood friendship, four daydreamers struggle to decide who to be, as their journey becomes as emotional as it is physical.
The idea was brought to me by my writing partner Jon Barton. We had just finished working on a sci-fi/action feature project, and it was his turn to pitch something to me. As soon as I heard it, it chimed for reasons that aren’t hard to describe. Our shared passion for cinema as a tool for understanding oneself and an exercise in wish fulfilment was immediately appealing, but within that was a story that spoke directly to my experiences.
What’s your role on the project?
Writer and Director.
How did you pull together the team to help you bring this idea to life?
I met Jon on BFI Network x Bafta Crew. We are both part of this year’s cohort, and he replied to a callout I made for co-writers earlier in the year. Our producer, Danielle Goff is someone I knew of, through my own network and Pocc. I’d heard lots of good things about her from friends, but we hadn’t met properly until this project came along. She had been looking for a feature to add to her slate, and fortunately, this was it.
Why did you decide to go the crowdfunding route to finance Blockbuster Boys?
Firstly, I knew I had to build momentum, and would have a degree more after BFI Network @LFF, but mainly because it’s so difficult to get development money for films in the current ecology of British film. Particularly for smaller (genre) films like this. A few years ago, development funds in the UK film industry were rife. Lady Macbeth, God’s Own Country, Spaceship, Lilting and The Levelling are all examples of films that gathered steam thanks in part to funding first-time filmmakers. These were channels through which filmmakers could both fund and develop their work.
Post-Covid, that culture is nearly non-existent in the UK. To name a handful, Film London Microwave and BFI iFeatures have stopped running. The BAFTA Crew schemes, of which Jon and I are a part of, no longer run live events. Even the regional hubs are consolidating, and this project is supposedly too small for the BFI.
And even if we did apply for funding, there’s also the long wait for an outcome. So, we realised that by doing it this way, and aiming to develop it ourselves, we could keep the momentum, stay nimble, and have a better chance of the film getting made, rather than sitting on our desk or stuck in a cycle of development somewhere.
What were some of the challenges in putting together the pitch?
Honestly, the research and strategizing are the most time-consuming. I’m used to writing copy and making visual assets, but researching the best platforms, previous campaigns, do’s and don’ts and all the prep took hours upon hours. It’s paid off though, as we felt totally prepared when we launched, and we’ve had a really strong campaign regardless of the outcome. Our supporters have been absolutely amazing!
(I must say it’s really good – from merch to a clear outline of what’s needed) How did you research what’s the best way to present a crowdfund pitch? – I can imagine it’s difficult to even quantify what to offer people who contribute?
We looked at examples of successful crowdfunds for film, the average number of rewards for successful campaigns, and the most popular types of rewards, then devised our own based on what we knew we could deliver. Experiential rewards were the ones we were most excited about, but people have often chosen to back us without reward, which kind of proves that people just want to see us succeed and see the film.
What’s the backup plan?
We’ve been having meetings with quite a few established companies and figures about the project. LFF Network was a great opportunity to pitch it to the industry and everyone has really connected with it, so the project is definitely alive and well. If we don’t succeed with the crowdfund, we know there are opportunities, but we may lose momentum, and a degree of freedom to move at pace, and develop it the way we intended.
You’ve been chipping away behind the scenes for a while now, what’s kept you motivated?
If I look back at the last 5-6 years it’s been all progress, even if there have been disappointments and bitter blows along the way. I’ve set myself realistic targets each year, including writing a new script, and I’ve used various contests and talent labs deadlines to make sure I complete them. As a result, motivation has also come from gradual wins and achievements (getting an agent, John Brabourne Award, Bafta Crew, LFF Network, joining Stockroom), which are all proof that I’m on the right path.
Also, not judging or measuring my achievements against others has helped me stay more focused, true to myself, and protect my mental health, which is crucial for self-motivation, staying inspired, and self-belief.
Can you remember your first film project, what was it, and what does it mean to you today?
LOL. It was probably a short film called Either/Or. It was basically the type of magazine content you’d find online for a site like Buzzfeed or BBC Three nowadays. It was just a little joke, but I treated it like it was a masterpiece. I’ll never show it to anyone!!!
Tell us how people can support Blockbuster Boys and keep up to date with you and your projects.
Our campaign can be found on Kickstarter, search for – Blockbuster Boys. We have less than a week left of our campaign and if we don’t hit our goal we walk away with nothing. Any and every pledge will truly help. Hopefully, there are a few secret millionaires ;). And if you want to keep up to date with my projects you can find me on Insta/Twitter as @Iceystories (I’m more active on the former). My website is anicesouvenir.com
GETTING TO KNOW YOU…
A book you have to have in your collection? The Art of Pixar / The Art of Dramatic Writing (Lajos Egri), Salt (Nayyirah Waheed).
A song / album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date? Massive Attack – Blue Lines / The Streets – OPM / Kano – Hoodies All Summer
A film / TV show that you can watch/have watched repeatedly? The Incredibles / The Wire
The first stage production you saw and what it meant to you (play, dance or concert)? Hmmm, the earliest one I remember was The Wind in The Willows at The National Theatre. It definitely sparked a fire for theatre in me, although it took many years for that to dovetail with my love of film. Also, I’m pretty sure my mum took me to sick festivals and stuff like that as a baby…. Does that count too?
Blockbuster Boys Kickstarter can be found here.