A Report from the Crowdfunding Frontlines


Here’s the official trailer for ‘HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS: The Artistic Life of Robert Singleton,’ whose world premiere is Sunday, Sept. 17 at the Clay Center in Charleston, W.Va.

By Douglas John Imbrogno | editor, westvirginiaville.com | august28.2023

I will say this, flat out. Crowdfunding and independent guerilla filmmaking are not for the faint of heart. The effort of crafting, funding and promoting a long-form documentary, dear reader, is one of the reasons that WestVirginiaVille, this ‘creatively cranky,’ independent, and intermittent online magazine, has been on hiatus the last six months. Along with AmpMediaProject fellow traveler Bobby Lee Messer, I have been gestating the hour-long documentary ‘HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS: The Artistic Life of Robert Singleton,’ whose world premiere takes place on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, on the Clay Center main stage in West Virginia’s capital city of Charleston. It’ll be one cool night of culture, artistry and storytelling. (If you’re within striking distance, you can be at the premiere by calling the box office at 304-561-3570 or clicking this online order form. And free subscribe to the film’s website to learn of other screenings, including a two-day run at Gradient Art Gallery in Thomas, W.Va., in mid-October.)

And, so, allow me to cut to the chase, speaking in movie-talk. This is the part of being an independent creator that I don’t much like, since I am minus the deep pockets from, say, the glory days of my old newspaper, The Charleston Gazette. I have funded this project — overall budget of about $45,000 — mostly out of my wife’s purse, except for a $20,000 check to get us started from the family foundation of one successful, very generous pal from high school. Right now, we have three days left in a $12,000 SEEDandSPARK crowdfunding campaign and we are at $10,271. Should supporting such work and its focus appeal to thee, please read about the film below, view the trailer (SEE ABOVE) then pick a donation level. You could well be the person whose donation — of whatever size — gets us over the hump.

LINK TO CROWDFUNDING SUPPORT PAGE: seedandspark.com/fund/house-in-the-clouds

I had some fun designing the donation levels, from Claude Debussy to Mark Rothko, from Robert Rauschenberg to Gustav Mahler — as all of them represent artists and musicians personally important to Robert in his development. Below is the formal pitch I have been sending out to folks which gives more background on ‘HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS.’ Take a read, a view, and a listen!

Note from executive producer Douglas John Imbrogno on the documentary “HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS: The Artistic Life of Robert Singleton’

Here’s how you can support independent, spirited filmmaking by folks you may know about people worth knowing, by pitching in on the crowdfunding campaign to help with the many production costs from crafting the ‘HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS: The Artistic Life of Robert Singleton,which makes its world premiere Sunday, Sept. 17 on the main stage of the Clay Center in Charleston WV, presented by the W.Va. International Film Festival.

The film track’s Robert’s life from trauma to triumph, from tribulation and deep loss to equilibrium and mastery. It’s a tale of many things. How soulful drive and determined spirit can overcome a bruising, traumatic childhood. What it was like to be a gay young man growing up in America back in the day (Robert was ejected from art school in Richmond, Virginia, in a ‘gay purge’ at age 19 in 1959, christened with a mental hospital diagnosis of ‘sociopathic personality disorder with sexual deviation.‘ The parallels with today’s attempts to brand trans youth as damaged souls are evident.) It is also a tale of an artist’s progression — from conventional imagery to award-winning abstract expression. And, then, on into Robert’s ‘light paintings’ and ethereal, mystical horizon lines and clouds, depicting the meeting space between earth and heaven, which are at once gorgeous and deeply spiritual. 

‘ARTIST AT WORK: Robert Singleton Studio Shots’ | CLICK TO VIEW VIDEO

The film is also a story of the spiritual devastation and losses of the AIDS crisis when it hit Robert’s circle hard in the 1990s, and how Robert came to know and work with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a pioneer in near-death work. ‘HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS’ is, finally, a tale of a life well-lived and an artist who at 85, after all he has experienced, continues to paint and create at the top of his game and art on a remote mountaintop in the Allegheny highlands of West Virginia. Join Team Cloud and help us share these many tales at this link. As Robert’s work has ever done, his paintings channel the spirit communicated by the title of his artistic/spiritual autobiography: “Core of My Joy.”

Key links for the ‘HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS: The Artistic Life of Robert Singleton’ project

1) LINK TO CROWDFUNDING SUPPORT PAGE: https://seedandspark.com/fund/house-in-the-clouds

A Few ‘Over the Rainbow’ Moments | CLICK TO VIEW VIDEO

To mark a key benchmark in crowdfunding for ‘HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS: The Artistic Life of Robert Singleton,’ I created this video, featuring “Over the Rainbow” images from this world-class artist’s career. See more on the biopic at houseintheclouds.movie

3) VISIT THE OFFICIAL MOVIE WEBSITE: https://houseintheclouds.movie

4) LINK TO TRAILER AT YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/flvXshiMQwY

5) BUY TICKETS TO SEPT. 17 WORLD PREMIERE in CHARLESTON, WV.: Call the box office at: 304-561-3570. Or click this link: https://secure.theclaycenter.org/9971


7) READ MY PROFILE OF ROBERT’S CAREER: “The Cloud Painter and the Berlin Musician”


9) KYLE VASS AUDIO INTERVIEW with Robert on caretaking loved ones during the HIV-ADS crisis: https://wvpublic.org/hiv-in-the-mountain-state-robert-becomes-a-caretaker-after-his-partners-death/

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