How Blue Like Jazz Started an Artistic Revolution

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If you’re a dreamer of any sort, if you’re a timid, first-time entrepreneur, if you’re a seasoned creative itching to make a larger impact, then you should take heed of the recent cinematic flurry surrounding Blue Like Jazz.

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A bit of back story:

Back in 2003, Thomas Nelson Publishers released a seemingly innocuous book called Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality onto bookstore shelves. I remember standing in Barnes and Noble with my hand wrapped around the spine, scanning the back cover clip, wondering if I should take a chance on an author – some guy named Donald Miller – from Portland, Oregon. He could have been a mustache-toting hipster for all I knew.

And I’m so glad I took that chance.

The book sparked something within me, within readers, and it spread like something out of Contagion, just without all the mass hysteria.

Now Blue Like Jazz is opening in theaters nationwide today, and it’s nothing short of a miracle. Because the “older white guys” who fund movies stopped production in its tracks back in 2010. They couldn’t relate. When Miller announced that the movie would not see the light of projection, fans regrouped, armed with a heady dose of faith and a Kickstarter account.

And the rest is history.

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Like it or not, this movie is setting a precedence for all art to follow.

And here’s why:

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ONE: A community-driven project is magnetic.

Gone are the days of reigning head honchos drinking cocktails stirred by their secretaries. The Mad Men era is over.

And believe it or not, the people still hold the real power.

This is why fan fundraising platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo work. Fans want to be part of the project, especially if they can fund artistic genius that would otherwise be muffled in the world of big business.

The Blue Like Jazz Kickstarter account set a goal of $125,000. But this grassroots project ultimately raised $345,992.

This is definitely something to be emulated.

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TWO: “Traditional” has become a dirty word.

Save it for holidays and spring weddings, but leave it out of art. It’s become synonymous with “out-dated,” “boring,” and “irrelevant.”

Indie is more than a trend. It’s the voice of our age, a mark of how we’re unwilling to leave things as they are.

Fans were unwilling to leave the film untouched. Filmmakers were unwilling to keep the plot safe and uncontroversial. And this is how revolutions begin. With ideas, with differences of opinion, with boldness.

This movie has definitely started something.

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THREE: Failure is all about staying down.

Two years ago, this project fell flat. It stalled before it even hit the earliest stages of production.

Nothing worthwhile comes easily, and as John Steinbeck once said in a letter about true love, “nothing good gets away.”

Ain’t it the truth.

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I won’t be able to see Blue Like Jazz until next weekend.

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When are you seeing it?