From 1982 until his death 25 years later, Kurt Vonnegut cooperated with director Robert Weide on a documentary about his life and work. The film was never finished, but it could be, with a Kickstarter campaign launched this week.
Weide, best known for “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” got his start making documentaries about funny people: The Marx Brothers, Lenny Bruce. He funded his film on Vonnegut, the popular satirical author of “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Breakfast of Champions,” in fits and starts by himself. Along the way, Weide scripted “Mother Night,” the Vonnegut novel adapted into the movie starring Nick Nolte.
Over time, the filmmaker-subject relationship became a friendship. That there wasn’t a film? As Billy Pilgrim said, “So it goes.”
But those 25 years of footage, photos and conversations remained on his mind. When a documentary about another literary figure had big Kickstarter success -- actor and filmmaker Griffin Dunne raised $220,000 for a film on Joan Didion, who happens to be his aunt -- Weide was inspired. “Now’s the time,” he told New York Magazine’s Vulture website.
Weide has partnered with another documentary filmmaker, Don Argott, to make “Unstuck in Time,” which will be part Vonnegut documentary and part meta-doc about the friendship between filmmaker and author. The Kickstarter campaign to complete the project, loaded with archival footage, launched this week.
The goal is lofty: $250,000. Here’s how the filmmakers make the case: “We’ll hit the ground running with more filming -- primarily interviews (with Vonnegut’s friends, colleagues, family members) and pertinent locations, then back to the editing room to edit dozens of hours of footage, hundreds of photographs, never-seen home movies, etc., into a polished production that will be a worthy homage to one of America’s most beloved writers.”
Rewards for donors include autographed Vonnegut items, Vonnegut books, T-shirts, other Hollywood memorabilia, a tote bag and a “So it goes” bumper sticker from the Vonnegut library.