Ten years ago Matthew Lillard took a job reading the audio book of a popular young adult novel called Fat Kid Rules the World – now he’s directed the film adaptation, using Kickstarter to fund its distribution.
The story is about a suicidal, obese teen named Troy Billings who becomes friends with a local guitar savant and they form a band together.
They begin rehearsing for an upcoming gig and the process helps Troy find confidence in himself and acceptance while his new friend kicks a drug addiction.
Lillard says the story had a profound impact on him while reading it.
"I had this, I don't know, I keep calling it an emotional epiphany," he recalled. "I was connected to this kid so much so that I started crying in the middle of reading this book.
“In that minute I walked outside, picked up the phone, called my management team and said: 'I want to talk to the author.' Her name is Kelly Going, and I begged her to let me direct the film version of it."
He optioned the film but it took years to get the movie made. Production finally began in the summer of 2011.
The movie premiered at this year's SXSW (South by Southwest) festival in Austin, Texas, to positive reviews. It also won the audience award.
The film received four distribution offers which Lillard describes as all "pretty terrible," so instead he decided to take an unconventional route to get the movie out there. "We doubled down on the movie and we went to this thing called Kickstarter," he said.
"Kickstarter is a crowd-funding resource, and basically what you do is you go out into the world and ask people to support your film and in return you give away things like t-shirts and screen credits, and a whole list of benefits at different pledge levels, and in return they give you cash. We raised $158,000 (USD) dollars in 33 days."