Features and Columns

Fund This Film: Sylvester Stallone Hits Kickstarter With Ensemble Drama ‘Reach Me’

By  · Published on August 31st, 2013

Yes, Sylvester Stallone is the latest major celebrity to hit the crowdfunding circuit. But it’s not his own project; he just stars in the film. The real man behind the campaign is Sly’s old buddy John Herzfeld. These guys are a pair. They were roommates in college, made a short western film using live ammo, appeared together in Cannonball! and Cobra and finally got to work together again recently on The Expendables (Herzfeld helmed the making of feature included on the DVD and Blu-ray). Now they’re united again with Reach Me, an ensemble drama we’d been tracking the casting of last fall. It turns out one of the main investors backed out during filming and now the post-production financing needs to come from pledges via Kickstarter.

Reach Me doesn’t look too bad, and it does have an impressive cast (at least in size and B-level status) consisting of Stallone, Kelsey Grammar, Kyra Sedgwick, Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane, Tom Berenger, Kevin Connolly, Cary Elwes, Danny Aiello, Terry Crews, Danny Trejo, Nelly, The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan, True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten and Frank Stallone. Herzfeld is no amateur, either. He’s the writer and director of 2 Days in the Valley and 15 Minutes, and his last major directorial gig was the 2007 Paul Walker movie Bobby Z. But don’t think just because he and his actors are all well-known that they could foot the bill among them. Let’s not forget, this is a job for that cast, not an act of charity.

Actually, many of them are being charitable in their helping with incentives. There’s everything from autographs to a game of golf with Scagnetti himself, Tom Sizemore. You can get the clothes off Nelly’s back. You can get training time with World Champion MMA fighter Urijah Faber. You can get screenwriting advice, a personal set visit, dinner with members of the cast, you can have an original painting of James Spader and Charlize Theron (from 2 Days in the Valley). And for any musicians or bands out there, you can get your song played prominently in a scene of the film. This is one of the bigger movies we’ve seen on Kickstarter so it makes sense there are some bigger rewards than normal. I’m just waiting for them to add a vial of Stallone’s sweat.

Oh yeah, so what’s the movie about? There are multiple intertwining Los Angeles stories all related to a self-help book called “Reach Me” and its reclusive football coach turned author (Berenger). I’m not sure about all of who plays what, but characters include a trigger-happy cop (Jane), his priest (Aiello), some mobsters, a woman just released from prison and a tabloid journalist. The last of these roles seems, from one of the campaign videos, to be played by Connolly. Stallone looks like he plays his boss, maybe a wealthy publisher. Nelly plays someone called E-Ruption, so he’s probably a rapper. Grammar can be seen kicking ass below, which isn’t what you’d call typecasting. The whole thing does feel very ’90s (Herzfeld has been trying to make it since almost that decade), but it could still be a decent movie.

You can check out that typical campaign video on the project’s Kickstarter page. You can also see a brief golf course scene starring Sizemore. Here, I’d like to share the other introductory video featuring just the longtime pals Stallone and Herzfeld hanging out in Stallone’s office surrounded by Rocky memorabilia and talking about that awesome(ly dangerous) sounding short they made long, long ago. If it doesn’t make you want to honor the dreams of two desperate old Hollywood dudes, I don’t know what will.

Do you want to see this film? Enough to help fund it?

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.