A Kickstarter into love

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A BYU student is using Kickstarter as a way to raise money for his documentary, which is about reaching his goal to find love and get engaged in six months.

Stephen Nelson, a film major at BYU, is trying to raise $3,000 through Kickstarter — a funding program for creative projects — to fund his feature-length documentary where the audience follows his journey as he learns about dating and love.

“The point is trying really hard for six months,” Nelson said. “I go into the project really naïve. That is kind of the idea. I’m open for anything, and ready and willing to figure all this out. The purpose is to let the experiment or the project teach me. By the end of it, the idea is to have a few conclusions about love for the audience. And we are talking lasting love.”

Stephen Nelson meets with his dating coach and has her film a bit of the session. Photo by Ari Davis.
Stephen Nelson meets with his dating coach and has her film a bit of the session. Photo by Ari Davis.

Backers pledged more than $2,500 on Kickstarter for Nelson’s documentary in the first 10 days. The money will be used to pay the professionals working on the documentary, and will also cover the costs of the motion graphics, the musical scoring and also some social experiments the team will be conducting.

Nelson said the Provo setting is a key aspect to the production of the film.

“I am not shying away from the Mormon aspect because the only place this really could work is Provo and Rexburg — a community where everyone is OK with dating for marriage,” Nelson said. “Somebody my age, anywhere else, date to date and maybe they’ll stumble upon marriage. Here, it’s just a fact of life, a cultural truism. People here, at some point, are looking for marriage.”

According to Nelson, however, the film is directed toward a non-LDS audience, and Mormons are used as an apparatus for the documentary.

Nelson has been doing what it takes to be as active in his pursuit of love as possible. One of those actions includes receiving advice from a dating coach.

“You need to have a process, and as a dating coach, I teach people how to build their plan. My coaching is based off the principles of business. It’s basically translating the principles of sales and marketing to personal life,” said Michelle Barnum Smith, Nelson’s dating coach who was featured in Forbes Magazine.

The steps Nelson is taking to enrich his story have helped to develop the feature-length documentary.

“My favorite thing about producing this has just been being able to see this experience firsthand,” said Cassie Hiatt, the producer of Nelson’s documentary. “I have become so invested in Stephen’s life it’s almost pathetic. But I just have so much fun seeing everything Stephen has been going through and how that is translating on to the film. As producer, I have been making sure Stephen stays on track and meets his goals he set for the week.”

The documentary is scheduled to be completed sometime between February and April 2014.

To introduce the film, a blog will be created which will feature clips of social experiments and other parts of the film leading to the final debut of the completed documentary.

One of the social experiments is a simulation of marriage where the couples are set up through a mathematical equation. The results of this experiment and some others social experiments will be posted prior to the final product on Nelson’s blog.

The documentary will be available free online for one week, and then after that week, the team will choose another distribution method for the film at a cost.

“Overall this film is going to be great, and like I said before, it isn’t just a self-reflexive piece,” Hiatt said. “We want the audience to realize that they can totally relate to what is happening on screen. We are really excited about this, and we can’t wait for people to see our work.”

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