Crowdfunding meets Broadway in Starring Clara Bow

Before Lindsay Lohan and Marilyn Monroe there was Clara Bow – the original Hollywood rags to riches story of a wild young ingenue who fulfills her dreams only to discover fame comes at a cost.

Bow’s life contains all the elements of a good story – intrigue, romance, famous names, a longshot victory and a reckoning. Gene Massey, Jeffery Mundy and Barry Fasman agree, and want to bring it to Broadway with the help of the crowd.

The trio are crowdfunding Starring Clara Bow, Inc. on crowdfunding site StartEngine, the first time the general public has the opportunity to own part of a Broadway show. With a three-stage goal, they are prepared to put in the time it takes to produce a successful Broadway musical.

They also know what it takes to get there. Mr. Fasman is an award-winning producer, songwriter, arranger, composer and conductor whose credits include writing and producing for the television show Fame, Oliver Stone films JFK and Nixon, and artists ranging from Billy Joel to Brian Wilson. As a performer with the band The One-Eyed Jacks, he opened for The Doors and Jefferson Airplane. He also composes video game scores.

Mr. Mundy wrote and co-published 38 top 100 songs as a songwriter with Warner Brothers dating back to the 1970s. He began writing musicals with Mr. Fasman in the early 1990s and recently produced a musical adaptation of The Seven Year Itch which resulted in New York workshops starring Jane Krakowski. His interesting second career as a gourmet chef led to him cooking for Frank Sinatra and Elton John.

Mr. Massey was among the first people to see the potential of crowdfinance. As the CEO of MediaShares and QwikShares Mr. Massey has offered innovative crowdfinance solutions for marketing and transacting online securities offerings for a decade. An award-winning screenwriter, Mr. Massey has directed an eclectic mix of celebrities including Alice Cooper, Vincent Price and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and worked with many of the world’s top golfers. Earlier in his career he was a television and film actor.

“Clara Bow, she’s the lost goddess of Hollywood,” Mr. Mundy began. “She was the biggest star of the silent era, receiving 40,000 pieces of fan mail every week.”

Ms. Bow grew up in a Brooklyn tenement with a mother who suffered from extreme mental illness and once attacked her with a knife. Her father was an alcoholic. In her teens Bow won a movie magazine contest which included a trip to Hollywood. After appearing on the cover of a periodical, she got a screen test and earned her first movie role.

A year later Bow got her break at Paramount and became a star, but lacked the proper representation and signed a series of contracts where the majority of her $1,500 weekly salary went to others.

And earn she did, Mr. Mundy said.

“In 1925 alone she made 15 pictures. She was working day and night. They just worked her to death.”

By the age of 27, Ms. Bow was the queen of Hollywood, Mr. Mundy said. But she was also a pariah, as her honesty about her origins led her to be shunned by an establishment concerned about appearances. It did not stop her from having affairs with Gary Cooper, Victor Fleming and Gilbert Roland, however.

More than 20 songs are ready so it is time to move the production forward by offering shares of the production to the crowd, and that is where Mr. Massey comes in.

“This is the very first time non-accredited investors can invest in a Broadway show,” Mr. Massey said.

While the eventual goal is to raise $998,100, there are two intermediate steps that will help move the production forward. When the tranche funding goal of $53,100 is attained, they will be able to produce a green-screen background medley of songs along with some choreography which will help tell the story and assist with marketing.

The second tranche goal of $148,100 allows for the production of a defined workshop version which will be tested outside of a Broadway theatre. Principal actors will be cast and rehearse before a Broadway opening. While a profit off the workshop would be welcomed, the opportunity to refine the production at an early stage could lead to success down the road.

The third goal of $998,100 allows them to proceed with a Regulation A offering to raise the $8-10 million needed for a full Broadway opening. Investors could have freely tradable stock which they can sell after the offering should they wish.

Being an entertainment production, the perks should be attractive to musical theatre buffs. They include autographed posters, tickets, backstage and set access, and executive producer credit.

Massey, Mundy and Fasman are convinced Starring Clara Bow will have wide appeal.

“We’re trying every known trick of the trade – funny dialogue, great heartfelt songs, peppy numbers, serious ballads, and great anthems. We feel we have the bases covered.

“It’s going to be memorable.”