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Can a crowdfunded indie film revive Katherine Heigl's career?

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Katherine Heigl’s career has been beset by controversy, but can crowdfunding give it a new direction? Producers of Heigl’s latest film are hoping her loyal fans will aid them in bringing an independent queer romance to life through Indiegogo.

Jenny’s Wedding is the story of a woman, played by Heigl, who surprises her family by announcing her engagement—oh, and coming out.

The Indiegogo campaign, with a goal set at $150,000, is a more modest attempt to follow in the footsteps of other popular film projects like the Veronica Mars movie and Zach Braff’s funding of a sequel to Garden State.

In a twist on other film crowdfunding projects we’ve seen, however, Jenny’s Wedding has already been filmed. Now, the production team is hoping fans will put the icing on the wedding cake, and help boost the film’s post-production costs.

The Indiegogo campaign is also pledging to donate 5 percent of the proceeds to PFLAG Cleveland, where the movie was filmed.

On the surface, Jenny’s Wedding looks like a Lifetime movie: featuring Hollywood veterans like Tom Wilkinson and Alexis Bledel, it has all the trappings of a heartwarming lesbian family dramedy. But it’s also an indie production written and directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue, the screenwriter of Beaches and White Oleander. Both films are complex looks at relationships between women—a far cry from most of the films Heigl is known for.

Then again, Heigl might be looking for a change after having been firmly labeled in Hollywood—both as a rom-com queen and as a notoriously difficult actress. In 2008 Heigl caused controversy by withdrawing herself from consideration for an Emmy because she felt she hadn’t given strong enough material on her hit show Grey’s Anatomy—and because she didn’t want to deprive other actresses in more deserving roles. After leaving the show, she notoriously called Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, which propelled her to stardom, “a little bit sexist,” then went on to star in films like The Ugly Truth that were a whole lot sexist. By the time 2012’s One for the Money tanked, the media was opining about her terrible career choices.

“Women, LGBT persons and people of color deserve representation that better speaks to the diversity of their identities, to enjoy a cinema that challenges the limiting ways in which women and minorities are constructed,” wrote Nico Lang in the Huffington Post, “and in Heigl's case, that change needs to start with her.”

Heigl has evidently been listening. But will fans listen back? In the 3 days since it launched, the Indiegogo campaign has raised a meager $10,000.

But with 43 days to go, there’s plenty of time for a spring miracle—one that could signify another notch in the belt for Hollywood’s burgeoning crowdfunding movement, as well as the revitalization of Heigl’s career.

Illustration by el4inquilino/deviantART (CC BY-SA 3.0)