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"Welcome to Deathfest" film seeks funds for artist compensation, wider distribution

Maryland Deathfest is hours away from kicking off, bringing thousands of metal fans to Baltimore for the annual weekend-long festival that rounds up all the best gorily named, jagged-font-loving bands in death metal.

A sampler of the headliners from this year: Autopsy, Morbid Angel, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Exumer.

Though there's nothing quite like going for yourself, the documentary "Welcome to Deathfest," released in 2014, captures the fest in all it's head-banging, medal-studded splendor. It even includes an interview with our own J.M. Giordano, discussing his black-and-white portraits of metal fans in a project called "Killer Angels."

And the filmmakers are trying to get in front of more eyeballs. Recently, writers and directors Thomas Grahsler and Alicia Lozano launched a crowdfunding campaign to acquire rights to use the music featured in the movie, for bands big and small.

Getting the "sync rights" would both compensate the artists and allow Grahsler and Lozano to shop their film to distributors—prior to this, it had only been screened at a few film festivals, including the Maryland Film Festival.

"Since the rights will be cleared, we will also be free to market our film to larger platforms and distributors," Grahsler writes in an email. "That would depend on what kind of deal we could strike, of course, but the end game is definitely streaming distribution in some capacity."

While the movie is currently "in limbo" until the rights are cleared, Grahsler writes that getting permission to use the music and finding a distributor would allow "Welcome to Deathfest" to end up on, say, iTunes, Vimeo, or Netflix.

"If the campaign is successful, we could put the film on any platform we like in order to reach the largest audience," Grahsler writes.

Grahsler and Lozano are asking for $15,000, which will go toward paying the bands and covering any legal fees associated with the process. The movie will stream on Seed & Spark, the site hosting the campaign, if they're successful.

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