It what may be no surprise, The Importance of Being Ernest has successfully ended its Kickstarter campaign after far surpassing its initial goal. Aiming to tell the definitive story of late actor Jim Varney and his time spent playing pop culture icon Ernest P. Worrell, filmmakers were seeking to raise a $60,000 budget for everything they needed to properly develop the documentary. At the end of the one-month campaign on Kickstarter, the project raised a total of $76,974 from nearly 1000 backers.
This is certainly fantastic news for every Jim Varney fan, as this means the project will definitely get made with the best possible quality. It's also something that's been long overdue for the late comedy legend, as there really hasn't been a definitive documentary made about his life and career that told the whole story of who he really was. Time is of the essence as more and more of Varney's story is continuing to be lost over time, and now the team can get started right away on finishing the movie.
"Through nine feature films, an Emmy-award-winning TV show, and thousands of television commercials, Ernest P. Worrell became a beloved comedy icon. Originally created as an advertising character, Ernest transcended these humble beginnings to become an unexpected hit-given life through the creativity of an indispensable team of artists, as well as through the unparalleled talent of actor Jim Varney," the Kickstarter description read.
The filmmakers added: "Today, two decades after Varney's death, both Ernest and Jim seem to endure largely as pop culture footnotes; or worse, as easy punchlines. But there's more to Ernest than that, and this documentary film will guide viewers through the entire Ernest epoch to examine the shelf life of a phenomenon. Using archival footage, cast and crew interviews, and never-before-seen material, we will seek to answer the questions: 'Who was Ernest, who was Jim Varney, how did they relate, and why do they both mean so much to people?'"
The Importance of Being Ernest is directed by David Pagano of Paganomation. Also on the documentary team is Varney's nephew Justin Lloyd, who serves as producer and researcher; comedian Daniel Butler as executive producer; and Oscar-nominated documentarian Valerie Champagne as co-producer. What they all have in common is great love for Varney and they're hoping that this will be conveyed through the movie.
Per the Kickstarter page, others involved to contribute to the movie are Bruce Arntson (actor, writer, composer); Clarke Gallivan (producer); Coke Sams (writer, producer, director); Gabe Bullard (journalist); Janie Varney (Jim Varney's manager and second wife); Jim DeVault (photographer for the official Ernest photoshoots); Josh Cherry (art director, actor, writer, and John Cherry's son); and Panama Jack Williams (singer/songwriter and longtime friend of Varney).
A release date hasn't yet been named for The Importance of Being Ernest, as the project just now wrapped the crowdfunding campaign. The Kickstarter page FAQ suggests that the movie won't be released before January 2022 at the earliest, and interviews still need to be filmed and edited together.