Don Cheadle Needs Your Money to Make His Miles Davis Biopic

By  · Published on June 6th, 2014


More than two years ago, we thought Don Cheadle’s passion project, a Miles Davis biopic titled Miles Ahead, would be coming soon. Well, it’s finally about to begin shooting, and the aim is for a 2015 release. It’s not surprising that it’s taking so long. As Cheadle said when we quoted him in that old post, “This is the kind of movie the business 10 years ago may have leapt at. But now, you don’t really see movies like this.” Apparently there’s still not a lot of leaping going on, so the project has gone to the people for help. This week, the production launched a flexible crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo with a goal of $325k, which is only the part of the budget that Cheadle isn’t putting in himself.

And in only two days, they’ve made a quarter of that. Cheadle, who will be starring as the legendary musician and making his directorial debut with the film, appears in two videos so far on the campaign’s page. In the first, a normal intro and call for help, he talks about his passion for the project and why it actually makes sense that a movie about Davis should have this sort of social element. You can also see him practice a bit on the trumpet after talking about the musical involvement of Herbie Hancock and Robert Glasper and a soundtrack comprised of modern artists such as (possibly) Jay-Z, Skrillex, Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre and Nas. In the second video, posted today as a thank you for early funders, he gives a peek at some concept images and storyboards.

Watch the first campaign video here:

Because this is a celebrity based campaign, there are some very appealing incentives for those wealthy enough to afford them. Stuff like set visits (to Miles Ahead or the Showtime show House of Lies) and an opportunity to be in the movie to the chance to play golf with the actor-turned-filmmaker. There’s also more physical and practical goodies, such as exclusive apparel and limited edition items, possibly some original artwork by Davis himself. But the most necessary and affordable is the chance to stream the movie via VHX simultaneous with the film festival premiere – which festival that’ll be is not known yet, of course, though I doubt it’ll be ready on time for Sundance in January. That’s great especially if there’s no U.S. distributor yet, because you’ll see it way before it hits theaters.

While the release date is unknown, the Indiegogo page does state that Miles Ahead is expected to shoot in Cincinnati next month. Also appearing alongside Cheadle are Ewan McGregor (who Cheadle acts like is an exciting new addition, yet who’s been attached for a while) as a Rolling Stone reporter and Zoe Saldana as wife Francis Taylor. The plot is not the life story but a brief period in the late 1970s when he was temporarily retired.

Watch the campaign update video below.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.