Queens Filmmaker Launches Online Crowdfunding Campaign

BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
Staff Writer

Jackson Heights native and veteran filmmaker Joe Eckardt is hoping that an Indiegogo campaign will help pay for his next feature film.

“I Ride Alone” is the true story of Vietnam vet and devoted biker Kevin Benedec, who has overcome incredible obstacles to put his life back on track. The story picks up as his mother passes away and he loses his way again. In order to find answers; and put his life together again – he jumps on his bike and rides across country to find himself. It is there that the next adventure begins.

Joe’s brother and one of the producers of the film, Jorge Eckardt, said it is a very gripping story.

“It’s dramatic and we think it’s going to translate really well on the big screen,” he said.

Joe said the film would appeal to anybody who has overcome adversity in their life.

The duo’s production company, Rock On! Films, wants to create a film based on a true story that showcases the beautiful landscapes of this country with plenty of bikes and adventurous riding for the bike enthusiast, but in order to do that, they have launched an online crowdfunding campaign with a goal to raise $1.2 million.

Joe said he was instantly drawn to the script of the film, written by Kyrle Rosales, who wrote the story about her brother’s life, but later passed away from cancer.

He said this has become a passion project of his, having worked on it for eight years.

After years of trying to secure funding the conventional way, they have decided the only way an independent filmmaker can retain control of their project is to secure funding through other means.

The brothers say their online campaign is unique because it will not only fuel their film, but the donors will also have a say in building this project. In return for their contributions, individuals can nominate and vote on important aspects of the project.

Their audience will have the opportunity to choose the music and genre of soundtrack for the film, the lead actor and actress and the supporting actor, as well as the type of bike ridden by the supporting actor, the lead actress and actor.

“Something that bikers like to do is build their own bikes so we designed a campaign where they would have a say in the film,” Joe said.

“Bikers are very a loyal bunch of people and they take care of their own,” Jorge said. “No one has been able to give up that kind of a creative control to the public. We want the people to be heard.”

Joe has directed and produced numerous feature films and documentaries. He has worked with some notable names in the industry – including, but not limited to – Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Steve Buscemi, Cuba Gooding Jr., Danny Trejo, Corbin Bernsen, Lacey Chabert, Jason Mewes and director Robert Rodriguez to name a few.

To make a contribution towards the film and to have a say, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/i-ride-alone.

Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, tsakhuja@queenstribune.com, or @Tsakhuja13.