San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Smart thinking helps Costa Rican filmmaker raise more than $40,000 for new movie

On filmmaker Hernán Jiménez’s desk sat his latest film. But he still needed $40,000 to finalize post-production.  Thanks to some creative thinking, he raised the money in less than a week.

He did through a new website called Kickstarter, and some 1,500 supporters have already helped fund Jiménez’s new film, “El Regreso” (“The Return”). A philanthropic upstart, Kickstarter uses public interest to fund creative projects like Jiménez’s film.

The Costa Rican actor and filmmaker is best known for his hugely successful movie “A Ojos Cerrados.” But with his latest film, Jiménez found himself short on cash, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to finish it.

“I think all good ideas come from hitting a wall,” Jiménez said in an e-mail to The Tico Times. “One day I realized I had a fully edited film sitting on my desk, and I needed thousands of dollars to finish it and my bank account was a joke. After I secured local distribution I knew I absolutely needed to get this done, and I started looking into all my options, which were, like two: borrowing money or getting very creative.”

That’s when he found Kickstarter, a site that lets users receive donations for projects in exchange for awards. For the thousands of people who have donated to his film, Jiménez is offering the chance to win producer credits, DVDs, signed posters, private screenings and VIP access to the premiere. But the greatest award is being able to see a project completed, he said.

El Regreso is the story of Antonio, who visits Costa Rica from New York. When an unexpected event suddenly forces him to stay longer, he must confront things that he’s struggled to put behind him – past incidences of violence, corruption, bureaucracy, a broken family, an ailing father and old friends.

Jiménez auditioned more than 1,000 people for the film. He said the biggest hurdle in Costa Rican cinema is the acting. So Jiménez devised a rigorous search process to find the perfect actors.

“Some of them auditioned in person and others I knew previously and asked them to put a scene on tape and e-mail it to me,” Jiménez said. “It was a long and arduous process and I think it paid off. There are really strong performances in the film.”

Although he’s surpassed his goal, Jimenez still needs more money to complete the movie. If you want to donate to Jiménez’s project, go to The last day to donate is April 2.

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