"Where the Sky is Born" is a short fantasy film that follows Hugo, 11, as he journeys into the Mayan underworld to save his family.
*** WE MADE IT! PLEASE STILL CONTRIBUTE, AS EVERY PENNY ADDITIONAL WILL HELP US BRING THIS MOVIE TO EVEN MORE KIDS IN RURAL COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE STATES! ****
"This is a stellar nursery. This is where the sky is born."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Where the Sky is Born is a short fantasy-adventure film about Hugo, a precocious 11 year old who is caught between the traditional culture of his abuela and his father, Vicente, a stern and disapproving man, and the western world of science and astronomy that he is being raised in. After spoiling a remembrance ceremony for his mother and twin sister, who died in childbirth seconds after Hugo was born, Hugo accidentally loses a precious locket entrusted to him by his father. Rather than risk his father's wrath, Hugo sneaks out late at night to find the locket, and stumbles into the magical Mayan underworld of Xibalba. What ensues is a thrilling action adventure as Hugo and a mysterious heroine must defeat the dark lord of the underworld, Hun Came, and rescue the locket, as well as the mother he never knew.
WHERE DID THE PROJECT COME FROM?
We wanted to tell a story that is universal but also specifically reflects a region that is underserved and under represented. The writer-director, Freddy Gaitan, was born in the Salinas Valley and raised by migrant farm workers, and as one of the first to go to college, he feels that we have a commitment as filmmakers to tell stories that can inspire younger generations towards education and science. Each of the producers, Gil Marsden, Christina Granados and Arturo Diaz, committed to the project because of this unique combination of an amazing story, a great team and a unique commitment to making the world a better place.
The story itself is inspired by two old Mayan mythological figures, the Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque. All of the characters in the underworld are true to Mayan mythology as well (but we don't want to give too much of it away!) and the story includes a climactic ball game based on the traditional pitz ball game played in rituals throughout Mesoamerica.
Finally, the main character of Hugo, and his yearning towards the stars, is inspired by the life of Jose Hernandez, the first Mexican-American astronaut to ever reach the stars. His story is an inspiration to residents of the Central Valley, and to us as filmmakers, reaching for our own stars.
WHAT HAVE YOU GUYS DONE SO FAR?
We have been awarded several grants, including Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant for Production, which provides funding for student films that depict science in interesting ways. With our stated goal of using the film to inspire younger generations towards astronomy, particularly in low income regions, the foundation awarded us the grant, which set us on this whole journey. You can read more about us and the grant here.
We were also lucky enough to have the incredible cinematographer, Haskell Wexler (who won the academy award TWICE for Bound for Glory and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) agree to be our mentor. When he read the script, he even offered to shoot a day of the film for us! Everyone, including our student cinematographer, is so excited about the opportunity to learn from this master.
Finally, we were recently awarded the Panavision Emerging Filmmaker's Grant, which is a great program that helps support student filmmakers by assisting them with equipment and camera rentals.
SO, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM KICKSTARTER?
We want your help! The successes we've had so far have allowed us to attract an amazing crew who are going to create an amazing world for us. You've seen in the video a couple of the incredible characters we want to create as well as an incredible Mayan ball court set that we want to build entirely practically. This is where your support will go, directly piece-by-piece, steel-panel-by-steel-panel into our production design. With your help we will be able to create the death gods and the court so that they are safe, exciting and realistic.
As we've said before, it's our goal that this film plays not only in festivals, but also in the local communities which we are hoping to inspire, all across the dustbowl and potentially beyond. This is a passion project for everyone, and almost every single person in the film is working for free. Nada. Zilch!
In order for it to truly excite and inspire kids, we need this movie to look like it an epic fantasy movie at a 1000th of the cost! We can only raise that with your help. We are currently seeking only a portion of our costs, and we're having to trim corners and cut certain sequences out of the film. If we do go over our fundraising limit, which would be AMAZING, we would first insert a scene we cut straight back in, where the two main characters ascend to the top of an amazing "Kukulkan Pyramid" - shown below - and ascend into the heavens.
In addition to that scene, we'll also be able to add detail in places we never hoped for: torches and "human" hearts for the underworld, and a variety of other small facets along the way. With your help, we can make an amazing movie that will both excite and inspire younger generations to look to the stars - to look where the sky is born.
WHO ARE YOU?
Freddy Gaitan, Director: Was raised in the Salinas Valley in Central California. The son of migrant farm workers, he was the first of his family to go to college, and received his BFA with honors from UC Santa Barbara. He has taught playwriting for the East LA Classic Theater Company working with acclaimed director Nancy Keystone. He has also worked at the International Festival Cervantino in Guanajuato Mexico. Freddy is pursuing an MFA in Film & TV Production at USC's School of Cinematic Arts. He is the proud recipient of the Rudolfo Montes Scholarship, which honors academic achievement and community leadership, and the Alfred P. Sloan Award. Freddy currently works at Sony’s 3D Technology Center.
Christina Granados, Producer: Currently an MFA Film and Television Production candidate at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Christina has a B.A. in English from UCLA in 2007, and is co-founder of SoapBoxPoets. Her past work experience includes journalist-promoted-editor at “The Salinas Californian”. She produced spot campaign ads for Chris Kelly for CA State Attorney General and co-wrote for the preservation of the IOKA theater.
Gil Marsden, Producer: In 2008 Gil cofounded New Beat Theatre Company, a non-profit theatre company based out of Melbourne, Australia, with which he directed two award-winning productions. Since moving to LA in 2009, Gil has produced and directed several short films, including Blackbird which is premiering at the Athens International Film Festival. Gil has a passion to development work and social justice.
Arturo Diaz, Producer: A native from Madrid, Spain, Arturo started as a journalist for the Spanish Public Radio, and then transitioned into television. In 2009 Arturo won a Fulbright Scholarship and was admitted at the Peter Stark Producing Program. Arturo currently works as development analyst at mun2, a network part of NBCUniversal.
Freddy, Christina, Gil & Arturo
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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Pledge $1 or moreYou selected
XIBALBA - THE UNDERWORLD At this reward, you will be immortalized in the Mayan underworld! You'll get our undying (literally!) gratitude, and a SPECIAL THANKS in our credits!
Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
POPOL VUH - THE BOOK OF THE PEOPLE You've ventured out of the underworld, and your deeds are recorded in the legendary POPOL VUH of the Maya. You'll get a SPECIAL THANKS in the credits of the film, and a special collection of Behind-The-Scenes photos emailed straight to your inbox!
Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
KUKULKAN - THE GREAT PYRAMID You're ascending the iconic pyramid from our video! In addition to the POPOL VUH package, you'll get a beautiful DIGITAL PACKAGE that includes a DIGITAL COPY of the film (on completion), and a high quality digital copy of the CONCEPT ART seen in the movie.
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
HUN CAME - LORD OF THE UNDERWORLD You've been promoted to Lord of the Underworld! In addition to the DEATH GODS package, you'll receive a DVD COPY of the film on completion, along with a CONCEPT ART booklet, both of which will be signed by the Director! **This pledge does not include shipping, which should be around $10 additional.
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K'AK - THE FLAME OF CREATION CONSTELLATION! You're in the stars! For your stellar donation, you'll get the LORD OF THE UNDERWORLD PACKAGE, as well as a CUSTOM CONSTELLATION with your name illustrated in the stars! Created by our wonderful VFX artists, this great image will look like it belongs as a part of the sky. **This pledge does not include shipping, which should be around $10 additional.
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IXCHEL - THE MOON GODDESS The mother of our Hero Twins in the story, this package includes an OFFICIAL KiCKSTARTER BACKER CREDIT! You'll be on all credits list as an Official Kickstarter Backer in the film, AND get the LORD OF THE UNDERWORLD package. **This pledge does not include shipping, which should be around $10 additional.
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MAYAN ASTRONAUT - As a Mayan Astronaut you get the MOON GODDESS (ASSOCIATE PRODUCER) package, as well as a CUSTOM CONSTELLATION with your name illustrated in the stars! Also, we would be happy to invite you to the CAST AND CREW SCREENING OF THE FILM! Travel will not be included in the price, but we would love to have you there! **This pledge does not include shipping, which should be around $10 additional.
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JAGUAR WARRIOR- This one is really great! In addition to the MAYAN ASTRONAUT package (Associate Producer and Screening), you'll get a chance to visit the set and watch a real game of "ulama," on our ballcourt! You'll have to be able to make it to LA sometime between July 16 and 19th, and when there you'll get to have lunch with the crew and take on the Director and Producers (and maybe a Death God or two!) in the traditional Mayan game! Travel won't be paid for, and as always ... **This pledge does not include shipping, which should be around $10 additional.
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EAGLE WARRIOR- At this reward, you'll get a TOTALLY UNIQUE Mayan death god weapon! One of the props wielded by our Eagle Warrior to keep! Signed by the cast and crew, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You'll also get the JAGUAR WARRIOR package, so you are more than welcome to come visit set, wield the weapon in the court, and take a photo with your corresponding God (depending on scheduling). However, the trip is totally optional: we understand if you'd rather wield your Godly weapon from the privacy of your home. Travel and arrangements are not included. **This pledge does not include shipping, which may be up to $100 additional (depending on which weapon!)
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THE HERO TWINS The greatest gods of the Maya! As a very special treat, we would like to invite to a VIP SCREENING OF THE FILM in the Monterey County area where the film is to be shot! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to roam the fields of the movie you see projected on a local theater. While we can't provide arrangements, we will be happy to take you around and show you the local areas, providing a guided tour through all of our locations for the film! In addition, this package gets you everything included in the JAGUAR WARRIOR package and the opportunity to become the LORD OF THE UNDERWORLD! You'll get one of Hun Came's LEGENDARY SPEARS to keep forever signed by the cast and crew. If you'd like to visit the set, you can sit in Hun Came's throne and preside over the ball court, all captured by our great set photographer! Rule the underworld for real! Travel and arrangements are not included. **This pledge does not include shipping, which may be up to $100 additional.
- (21 days)