Michael Gans saw his future in film when he was in his early teens, after seeing Grand Canyon, Lawrence Kasdan’s 1991 drama telling the interlocking stories of people living in Los Angeles. “It was such a great conversation piece,” he said. “It was the type of story I wanted to tell.”
The mild and well-spoken 39-year-old Fort Worth native who listens to film music by the late James Horner (Titanic, Braveheart) for inspiration while writing is now gearing up to shoot the feature film debut he has wanted to make since his school days, and he’s launching a final crowdfunding effort this week.
Out of high school, Gans attended TCU for one year before dropping out to work for a year and a half on The Way It Never Will, a feature film project that he was to write and direct before it ran out of money.
“I never considered it a failure,” he said. “I considered it a great learning experience.”
Undaunted, he spent years supporting himself through stage work. Along with working on sound and lighting, he acted with various local theater troupes, including Stage West, Circle Theatre, and Sage & Silo Theatre, a long-defunct outfit run by Gans’ former high-school drama instructor, John Templin.
“John taught me so much about directing actors,” Gans said. “He wasn’t the easiest guy to work for, but most actors would work with him again if they were given the chance.”
Stage work has hardly been the only means of support for Gans. He has done freelance photography and video editing, directed short films and music videos, and taught screenwriting at Arlington’s Artistic Image Photography, run out of the Upstairs Gallery. He also had a team that until recently took part every year in Dallas’ 24-Hour Video Race. He is back in school at TCC seeking a teaching certification but, right now, most of his energy is taken up with helming his new project, The Intangible Truth of Chance Malloy, a romantic film with supernatural overtones about a man who questions the reality of his idyllic relationship. The script was begun 10 years ago and started out as another short but grew into its current version.
“I’ve always been a big fan of romance ever since I saw [Jeannot Szwarc’s 1980 film] Somewhere in Time,” he said. “Romance isn’t the most marketable genre, but that’s the sort of film I want to make.”
Having seen fundraising for film projects change so drastically since the turn of the millennium, Gans has screened his 3-minute trailer for the film at public events like pARTy on Crockett and at Washington’s inaugural dcV festival, one of the few invitees who had only a trailer to show. However, the majority of his activity is on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.
“It’s a cruel process,” he admitted. “Investors no longer look through all the projects like they did four or five years ago, because there’s just too many.”
Still, he hopes to raise all the funds he needs through the final drive, which goes live on Indiegogo this Thursday. He’ll kick things off at a party at The Chat Room on the Near Southside that evening. He plans to shoot the film in Fort Worth’s Fairmount and Cultural districts. He doesn’t want to reveal the budget at this point, but he promises the film will look good for the money.
“People will be shocked when they learn how much we spent,” he said. “We’re really going to turn some heads.”