These two guys want to give you $12,000

Posted at 4:48 AM, Sep 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-22 04:48:37-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — Have a dream that means the world to you?

Maybe it involves travel or establishing an orphanage in Africa or making your own film. Your friends or family members might think this dream of yours is crazy -- but no matter the obstacles, you know you’ll never stop chasing it.

If this describes you, then Brian Crone and Gex (pronounced Jay) Williams want to hear your story. And if you're lucky, they might give you $12,000 to make your dream a reality as part of their "12K Challenge."

The challenge is simple; write a 200-word essay on explaining what your dream is. Sometime after Nov. 3, a group of judges will select a winning essayist to receive the $12,000.

Yes, it's that simple. 

The reason for Crone and Williams' contest is pretty simple, too -- the local film producers had their own impossible dream back in 2012.

“We had one idea, a million challenges and no budget, cast or crew” before Crone, a PhD student studying environmental engineering, and Williams, a filmmaker, made their indie dance movie, “Ctrl+Alt+Dance,” Crone said. 

All the pair -- who grew up together in Northern Kentucky -- had at the time was a script about an unemployed IT guy who is accidently hired as a dance teacher and as a result learns to Lindy Hop (a form of swing dancing) and falls in love.

Crone cites Williams’ “whatever it takes, we are going to make that happen, even if we have to do bake sales for the next three years” attitude that led to the movie’s premier before a packed audience in Music Hall in February, almost three years after their dream was born.

Back in early 2012, William’s tried to raise cash for the movie through the crowd funding website and failed.

That’s when he recruited Crone to find a way to market the movie and raise the $12,000 bare-bones budget on another crowd funding site,

On the second try, and with a little savvy marketing, the duo actually surpassed that amount, raising nearly $18,000.

“Fifty percent of our funding came from overseas” in that campaign, Crone said.

The funding allowed the producers to hire actors Dax Hock and Sarah Breck, both world-champion Lindy Hoppers, and world champion swing dance choreographers Kevin St. Laurent and Jo Hoffberg.

Photo courtesy ‘Ctrl+Alt+Dance'

“The two lead actors are probably the two best swing dancers in the world,” Crone said. “It was really cool to have some people who were really good at dancing."

The movie was shot entirely in the Queen City, with post-production split between three locations around the country before its February premiere.

Since then “Ctrl+Alt+Dance” has been screened in 60 cities around the world and received positive reception.

“People loved it, honestly,” Crone said.

That positivity is what led Crone and Williams to launch their “12K Challenge” in August.

“The fact that we relied on so many other people meant we wanted to give back to somebody else,” Crone said. “We know there are people out there with better ideas than we have and we want to get their dreams off the ground.”

The last day to submit essays is Nov. 3. Submission guidelines require participants buy the duos movie for $15. A panel of judges will then select the essay that best fits the contest’s criteria.

“The biggest criteria for us is just someone who has the gumption to make it happen,” Crone said. “Those are the kind of people we are really looking for."

So what's next for Crone and Williams? 

Crone said the duo plans to work together on another film project within the next two years or so as Crone continues his PhD studies.

For now, they're enjoying having “beat the curve” with the success of “Ctrl+Alt+Dance.”

“Five thousand indie films are made in the U.S. each year,” he said. “Very few of them are screened in independent movie theaters."

For more information about the “12K Challenge,” go to Williams and Crone’s website here.