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The sheltered life of a young pony is shattered when madness and financial ruin force him to leave the farm where he grew up.

The Tale Begins

The once proud Stoney Wedge Farms has fallen on hard times. And nobody is feeling the pinch more than the distinguished family of horses that has called the sprawling farm home for generations. It was once a place where titans of the racing oval spent sun-slaked afternoons breezing over the plush bluegrass carpet. Where starry evenings were spent sampling hand-spiced honey oats while nuzzling with dusky-eyed, exotic pleasure stock shipped in from the Arabian Peninsula. But now Stoney Wedge is better known for bankruptcy, betrayal, cult worship, madness...and worse.

Admiral, the pedigreed family sire, a direct descendent of legendary racing thoroughbred War Admiral, has found it particularly difficult to square himself with the reality of the times and has started to present text book symptoms of depression, despair and, increasingly, madness. 

When Admiral decides to sell his only sire, Palomino, to an itinerant band of gypsies, the young pony is forced to run away from the farm, the only reality he has known since his birth into a life of privilege some two years prior.

Once on his own, the world seems to take delight in doling out a seemingly endless barrage of setbacks, hard knocks and bad to just plain weird company. With his family -- Touch of Gold, Cherish, Glitter, Gumdrop and Admiral -- in grave danger and the only life he has ever known collapsing around him, the world has chosen an inopportune time to teach Palomino that, no matter how bad things get, they can always get much, much worse. 

Most ponies his age would give up and beg for mercy... but this jaunty, little pony just might be tougher than he first appears. Then again, maybe he's just really dumb. The important thing is that Palomino has spit the bit and the silver spoon all in one fell swoop. As a result a war of wills has been set in motion and Palomino is determined to win it...or be destroyed trying. 

Episode 1 [EXERPT]
S e r i e s   P i l o t

PONY TALES (ep 1) – A Story About Horses

A lone stallion (Admiral) stands by a white fence staring out at the sunset over green fields. He stares in silence. A slight rustle of breeze, far off bird song. After a moment he calls out, his rich baritone breaking the evening calm.

A: Palomino…

SILENCE

A: (Again, louder this time) Palomino!

P: Yes Pa!

A: Come out to the paddock son. I need to speak with you.

P: Yes Pa!

CU of Admiral

(CUT TO TWO HORSES, THE NEW ARRIVAL IS SMALLER, A JUVENILE (Palomino).

P: What is it Pa?

CUT TO ADMIRAL, SILENT

P: Um, Pa?

A: Look out there boy. Get a good look.

P: It sure is pretty, isn't it Pa?

A: It is now son… but… one day soon this whole f&*%g place is going to burn. It’s going to f&*%g burn. Burn. Burn…and f&*%g burn.

BIRDSONG STOPS, WIND

P: What?

A: Like a gasoline fire. I can see it now – a hungry, sucking fire so hot that all it will leave are charred bits of glass. The pitiful few who survive will always be haunted by it…their dreams forever marred by the howling, burning, damned. F%$#g, screaming, death.

A COLD GUST OF WIND

P: Um… Pa? When's the fire gonna come?

A: Oh, you don’t have to worry about that son. You’ll be long gone.

P: (A sigh of relief) Oh, good. So it’s not for a long time?

A: Oh no -- it’s coming really soon. But, I’m selling you to the gypsies tomorrow. They’re going to take you away to pull their plows and wagons.

P: What?

A: The Gypsies son. They are not nice people, but I don’t have a choice.

(END OF EXERPT -- EP. 1, PONY TALES (Series Pilot)

The Idea

Despite the figurines and bright colors, Pony Tales is not for kids. This darkly comedic saga explores the limits of hard-hitting, dramatic themes, pushing all of its characters to the very edge of mental and physical endurance and, at times, sending them skidding over it into the abyss. 

The plan is to use plastic horse figurines as the characters. Not only is this a cheap and fast way to keep the story galloping along, but it is also aimed at adding a level of double-take surprise and shock to the viewing experience. "Wait...what did that horse figurine just say?" The characters will speak via professional voiceovers and technicolor, photo backdrops of pastoral farm scenes will act as the show's main set locations. 

The bright look of the show is specifically designed to stand in stark contrast to the dialogue and storyline which will go about the business of plumbing the depths of the equine psyche, while constantly probing the perimeter wire of traditional storytelling taboos, seeking out and sneaking up on the softest, most exposed regions of people's sides, and then splitting them wide open. 

In the end, the story will boil down to which force is greater -- the predatory brutality of a world gone mad who's only kindness seems to be indifference...or the almost impossibly resilient optimism of a single pony as he struggles to set his world right again.

This Prodigal Pony Gets Around (With Your Help) 

When the main character, "Palomino," runs away from home in the third episode, his story will detatch from the family saga that will continue to play out on the farm in his absence. 

Once he leaves the sanctuary of the farm, all of his scenes will be shot via handheld camera against the gritty and often seedy backdrops of real world locations. 

From the slums of Bangkok...

Slums of Bangkok
Slums of Bangkok
Truckstop parking lots.
Truckstop parking lots.

To the truck stop parking lots of West Virginia and any and everywhere in-between. Palomino's ability to just pop up anywhere will be aided by our plan to use viewer scene submissions from people all around the globe who will be invited to order Palomino figurines from the show's Web site and then shoot their own Palomino scenes against the real world backdrop of their choice. 

The best of these scenes -- those that clearly demonstrate genius levels of sadistic glee in finding new ways to take Palomino's worldly tests to the next level of bizarre and unlucky -- will be selected to be dropped into each new episode. These episodes will always begin and end by depicting the increasing tribulations of life back on the farm, dramatic bookends to the new plotline of Palomino's worldly struggles. Two gripping tales unfolding side-by-side in one wildly entertaining series. 

A plea for viewer involvement will play at the start and end of each new episode accompanied by a clear link to instructions on how to take part on the show's Web site.

Will Palomino be able to learn the life lessons he needs to make it back home in time to put things in order or will the world get the better of him leaving his family to fend for themselves against an encroaching tide darkness? Only time, and your scene submissions, will tell.  

NOTES:

  • Scripting has been completed for most episodes and can be shared with those interested in investing.
  • After Palomino leaves home, each episode will start at the farm location. At some point it will CUT TO a scene that updates viewers as to what new "exotic" locale Palomino's travels have led him this week.
  • I'd like try to launch the series with scenes planned out for Palomino...but also leave open the option of taking viewer submitted scenes, if they are of the right quality. This will be achieved by sending out Palomino figurines to any viewer who submits to the Web site a script or detailed scene idea and a locale that meets our exacting comedic standards. 

What Your Donation Will Go Towards:

  • Building the sets. Getting the farm set location pictures blown up, built and ready to shoot on. Think the coffee shop and Jerry's apartment in Seinfeld, these locations will be where all the action on the farm takes place. The sets will include 1) the limestone creek mill pond 2) the paddock 3) the barn 4) the low meadow 5) the high meadow. 
Small, economy version of a photo set box.
Small, economy version of a photo set box.
  • Voice over talent. We want to be able to pay a small amount to those that lend their professional voice over talent to the production. 
  • Crew. We will be shooting the entire 8 episodes in a short amount of time, most of it on weekends and at night. I cannot ask these hardworking professionals to work as hard as I'll need them to work without being able to offer them some meager form of compensation. I'll also need to feed, and in some cases, bathe them. OK, most won't agree to be bathed, but I'll definitely need to feed them.
  • Graphics and music. The series will be greatly enhanced by a cool, bright and striking graphic look and its own music. I have people that can do this, but I cannot ask them to put in the amount of time and effort it will take on their part without any compensation as many of them have families, pets and new babies to feed. 
  • Web site and promotion. This is probably the most important part. This project will live or die on our ability to build and maintain a simple, easy-to-use, beautiful and robust social media Web site where fans can follow the storyline, order Palomino figurines, upload and submit video according to specifications, communicate through forums, watch back episodes and promote new content. It will need to do a lot while being simple and easy to navigate. It will also need to match up with the show in its look and feel. Finding and hiring the best developer we can afford will be where most of the donations will be spent because this is what will make or break the project's success. 
  • Tools and equipment. I have most of what I need already, but little costs tend to add up -- everything from batteries, glue and notebooks to replacement tungsten bulbs and horse figurines. 

For any other information, questions or suggestions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Jay Speiden at: jspeiden@yahoo.com

Thanks for reading!!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

This project's main challenges will be marketing the series segments to make sure that they have the best chance of getting to the audiences that will appreciate this type of content. While nothing can take the place of hard work and talent, I have picked up a few tricks over the years that I feel will help these episodes take flight. I've successfully built audiences for online series in America (iPhone Arm, Encino School of Viral Videos, Web Drifter, Digg Reel, Diggnation, Internet Superstar) and, more recently, in China (成成驾到 Cheng Cheng Jia Dao) and I did it without the benifit of having ponies as the series' main characters. In all seriousness, I've learned some tricks and, perhaps more importantly, I've built up a solid network of friends and colleagues that are second to none when it comes to building an audience for online content. I'll resist the urge to namedrop, but I will say that this network includes marketing and technical pioneers in the field of digital content as well as some of the Internet's top influencers and tastemakers.

Of course, the necessary preproduction, storyboarding, talent, crew, lighting gaffers and special effects will also be critical. Luckily I'm blessed to call many of the best in the business my friends and supporters as well. Those that I have approaced about helping out have all expressed interest at lending their talents and technical expertise to the effort of bringing these Pony Tales to life.

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    18 backers

    The Pony Tales pilot (Ep. 1) on DVD signed by the series creator and director.

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    The Pony Tales pilot (Ep. 1) on DVD signed by the series creator and director along with a signed Palomino figurine to keep in your own tiny pasture!

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    The Pony Tales pilot (Ep. 1) on DVD signed by the series creator and director PLUS an associate pony producer credit in the permanent show credits.

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    A Pony Producer credit along with the complete Pony Tales Season 1 on DVD and a hand-designed Pony Tales script jacket that includes real production stills and actual episode scripts.

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    A senior pony producer credit with a complete season 1 DVD copy of Pony Tales. Senior producers all get autographed Palomino figurines used in the filming of the series.

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    A senior pony producer credit with a complete season 1 DVD copy of Pony Tales. Senior producers all get autographed Palomino figurines used in the filming of the series. The first two $500 donors will get the chance to have their voices featured in the series. This pledge amount guarantees at least three spoken words, but if you have talent your role could expand dramatically.

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    Executive Pony Producer credit and a box set of season 1. This will be complimented by a full family set of equestrian figurines and another set of framed working scripts and a collection of production stills. A standing invitation to tour all field shoot locations in Shanghai and visit the Pony Tales set.

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