Crowdfunded Doc 'Back in Time' Brings 'Back to the Future' Back to Life

"This documentary will be the most comprehensive documentary ever made for the trilogy."
Courtesy Everett Collection

2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Back to the Future, the movie that taught the world that time travel could be dangerous because your mother might fall in love with you instead of your father. While science hasn't invented a DeLorean that would let us return to when the movie was first released, we do have the next best thing: Back in Time, a crowd-funded documentary about the making of the movie (and its two sequels) from filmmaker Jason Aron. The Hollywood Reporter talked to him about the project.

"I grew up a huge fan of the trilogy," Aron says. "There was always something about the movie that seemed so real even though I now know time travel isn't real. Or is it …"

Aron says he was inspired to make the doc when he was shooting a short film and they had rented a DeLorean. "The car stopped traffic in the street, and I just realized there was a cultural phenomenon surrounding this car and this movie. Once I decided I wanted to make the film, I started doing a ton of research online and came across Bill and Patrick Shea, the father and son superfans featured in the original Kickstarter trailer from 2013. I had no money to do any of this yet, so I went up there with a few friends and filmed for a day."

Following that day's production, Aron turned to Kickstarter, with the trailer featuring the Sheas helping the initial campaign to raise over $45,000. Two years on, the movie is nearing completion. "We know the public release will be on Future Day — October 21, 2015," he said. "We're releasing the film at We're Going Back, an awesome weeklong event celebrating Back to the Future." Plans for future releases — no pun intended — beyond We're Going Back and the copies distributed to those who funded the movie are still to be confirmed.

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For now, Back in Time has returned to Kickstarter, meeting its $50,000 goal in days as the movie races toward the finish line. The reason for turning to crowd-funding, it turns out, is partially the project's earlier success. "As the film grew in popularity, the scope of the film changed and we needed more money for production and, in turn, postproduction," Aron says. "This second Kickstarter will fund that." (The current campaign runs until April 8, with digital downloads, DVDs and Blu-rays available as pledge rewards, in addition to signed merchandise from stars of Back to the Future.)

Making the movie gave Aron a chance to meet his heroes — and discover that they were surprisingly humble. "Michael J. Fox was a great interview," he remembers. "It was the Holy Grail for a BTTF documentary and he was absolutely the nicest, most down-to-earth guy you could ever imagine." Similarly, Aron describes talking to Robert Zemeckis as "a total trip, because he is who he is [and] it was great to sit with someone that you could only hope to emulate one day. He's a legend."

With the premiere of Back in Time just months away, Aron is juggling finishing the movie with managing the second Kickstarter campaign — and hoping that his movie will feed the hunger for more Back to the Future.

"I'm starting to understand that there is a global love for the trilogy," he says. "It's palpable. People are starting to understand there won't be a Back to the Future 4, but they hunger for more content out of the trilogy. This documentary will be the most comprehensive documentary ever made for the trilogy, and we want everyone to enjoy it. I hope people keep backing the campaign. Even though we hit our goal, the more we get the better this film can be."

Back in Time Trailer from Malka Media Group on Vimeo.

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