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A documentary film following the world's greatest palindromists leading up to the 2017 World Palindrome Championship.
A documentary film following the world's greatest palindromists leading up to the 2017 World Palindrome Championship.
A documentary film following the world's greatest palindromists leading up to the 2017 World Palindrome Championship.
89 backers pledged $6,485 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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A Man, A Plan, A Palindrome (Feature)

$6,485

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Right now we're budgeted to cover three of the greatest Palindromists in three different cites. But there are more great Palindromists out there, and the sooner we can start meeting them and shooting with them, the better. That's why every dollar counts. Help us cover more of these word geniuses!

"A Man, a Plan, a Palindrome" began as a short documentary profiling 2012 champion Mark Saltveit.  When Will Shortz invited us to premiere the film at the 2015 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, we realized this could be the start of something bigger.  The response has been so strong that we've decided to expand the idea into a feature film! 

This proposed film will follow the greatest palindromists in the world leading up to the second-ever World Palindrome Championship in early 2017. The film will also delve into the rich history buried beneath this obsession with syntactical symmetry.

Legend says that the first words spoken by a human were a palindrome. Adam introduced himself to Eve saying: “Madam, I’m Adam”.   Ancient palindromes were the words of Gods and the curses of demons, a vessel for witchcraft and monkish devotion, inscribed on holy baptismal fonts and amulets of malefaction. We even find palindromes beguiling the genius code-breakers of WWII.  Our dream is to tell this story by interviewing the experts and imagining these episodes with hand-drawn animation. 

This kickstarter will be the first of multiple funding phases to get this film completed.  The heart of our shoot is not until early 2017; Will Shortz only holds the Palindrome tournament once every five years.  But we are ready to start profiling our top palindromists now, and we need your help.   This kickstarter will fund our shoots in 2015 (described in more detail below).  

This is your chance to help us out in the filmmaking process.   This is a very valuable time, a chance to capture the lives of these geniuses leading up to the championship, a chance to really get to know what makes these wordsmiths tick!

The Filmmaking Team

Filmmakers Vince Clemente and Adam Cornelius have collaborated previously on a prominent competition documentary, the award-winning Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters.   When it comes to capturing world-class brainiacs in the heat of battle, Clemente and Cornelius have the proven experience and know-how to make the story exciting and larger-than-life while still being true to the documentary form.  

Meet the Palindromists!

Mark Saltveit - the current reigning World Palindrome Champion.  A true renaissance man, he has held jobs from movie location manager to manual laborer to computer programmer. He founded and ran a computer training company for 9 years, worked as a barista, office temp and professor of English in China, and writes about football and Taoism. Let’s also not forget standup comedian, skimboarder, and dad.  He is responsible for creating and publishing the Palindromist Magazine and the Skeleton Close website. Sources say he unfortunately helped popularize the term "Whatever" with his essay of that name in "The GenX Reader."

Jon Agee - is the author/illustrator of many popular books for children, including Terrific, Milo’s Hat Trick and The Incredible Painting Of Felix Clousseau.  In the late 1980’s, Agee’s fascination with wordplay led to an obsession with palindromes.  It was an ideal match, as he was very good at creating these unique backward-forward phrases, as well as absurdly funny cartoons to "explain" them.  No surprise, this resulted in several popular books (and a 3rd place medal at the inaugural World Palindrome Championships). The title of Agee's first book was his palindromic magnum opus: “Go Hang a Salami!  I’m a Lasagna Hog!” Currently, Agee is at work on a palindromic graphic novel, or as he calls it, a “palindrama,” titled "The Wonton Conundrum."  The Film will follow Jon as he goes through the process of creating this novel, and even incorporate Jon's illustrations into some animations!

Lori Wike - principal bassoonist of the Utah Symphony and a faculty member at the University of Utah and Westminster College. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature from UC-Irvine. She is the proud inventor of a new challenging puzzle game called Crossdromes.  The film will feature her music and even visit her at Carnegie Hall when she preforms in April 2016! 

Nick Montfort - develops computational art and poetry, often collaboratively. He is a professor at MIT in CMS/Writing and is the principal of the naming firm Nomnym. Montfort wrote the books of poems #! and Riddle & Bind, co-wrote 2002: A Palindrome Story, and developed more than forty digital projects including the collaborations The Deletionist and Sea and Spar Between. The MIT Press has published four of his collaborative and individual books: The New Media Reader, Twisty Little Passages, Racing the Beam, and 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, with Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities coming soon.

John E. Connett, PhD - is a leading biostatistician at the University of Minnesota, with research interests in clinical trials in pulmonary disease, smoking, ophthalmology, and cardiovascular disease; case-control studies; estimation of odds ratio; random effects models; coefficient-of-variation models for laboratory data; and statistical computing. He also writes the wackiest palindromes of this group, and finished second in the 2012 World Palindrome Championship by only 6 votes of 600.

Martin Clear - is a computer programmer and poet from Sydney, Australia. He also played tight end on a team that won Australia's American-rules football championship. His palindromes are usually complex, but very grammatically correct. Some say he has the advantage of being able to work in Australian English as opposed to American English, so verb forms that in America add the difficult -ize in Australia add the much more palindromically workable -ise. Lionise, organise etc.

Potential poster designs by Jon Agee
Potential poster designs by Jon Agee

What is the money for? -  In these early stages of shooting, we'll begin touching base with these most prolific purveyors of palindromic perfection on a leisurely one-on-one basis.  That means long weekend trips to multiple cities throughout 2015.  For instance, Jon Agee, the renowned children's author who uses palindromes, will be finishing up his latest book this summer.  We'll be there covering that.     

Leading up to the World Palindrome Championship in early 2017, we'll gear up for a more sustained, fully-crewed shoot to make sure we cover that event in all its glory.  We'll launch another kickstarter for that phase of shooting in early fall of 2016.

Six thousand dollars is the amount we'll need to shoot extensive profiles of three of the palindromists mentioned above.  If we exceed our funding goals, that shoot will extend to more palindromists, possibly including the Australian, Martin Clear... believed by some to be the most talented palindromist alive.     

Filmmaker Bios

Vince Clemente - is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. His first film, The World of Z, took the audience on a powerful four-year journey into the eccentric life of manic-depressive outsider artist known simply as Z. After viewing it, Gordon Quinn (Hoop Dreams) called it, "A masterful character study." The film went on to win awards and play at several festivals.  Next he worked on Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters with Adam Cornelius.  Vince is constantly exploring the world around him, led by his heart and his unique sense of humor, he’s looking for the next great story that needs to be told.

Adam Cornelius - has been making films full-time since 2007.   His first feature documentary, People Who Do Noise, played at festivals, museums, and galleries all over the world.  His latest, Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters, won the audience award at the Austin Film Festival and premiered at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, the largest of its kind.

Here's what the Special Limited Edition DVD of the short film will look like!  Hand numbered DVD and cases, signed by Director Vince Clemente. Comes with Build Your Sex Yak cut outs!  Only 50 of these will ever exist!  Get them while they are hot! 

Get your very own copy of Jon Agee's book, Palindromania! signed by Jon himself!  Available in the out of print hardback version and the paperback version.  This is perfect if you love palindromes, cartoons and laughing!  Comes with digital download of the film when it's complete!  

Risks and challenges

Like any documentary film project, the primary risks we face are:

1. Access to people and their stories. We already know and have contact with the top palindromists. We're confident that we can secure these stories and bring you a compelling film that weaves them together (finding and telling stories is what we do for a living), but if we're talking about risks, this is #1.

2. Technical problems. Computers burn out, hard drives crash, etc. We have plenty of ways to mitigate these problems. One of our team members is a former IT guy with tons of experience here, and Adam and I have made several feature films without losing footage. We've got this covered.

3. Delays. If you've ever backed a documentary (or any creative project), you know that things can take longer than expected, or a new story might arise that changes everything. Because we have already done this stuff before to completion, we believe our timeline is realistic.

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    Fancy up your computer with a Download of "The Sex Yak" image! Also Get updates on the film through Kickstarter and show your support! Plus a special Thank You in the end credits!

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    Digital Download of the film upon completion! Get updates on the film through Kickstarter! Plus a special Thank You in the end credits!

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    Physical DVD copy of completed film. Digital Download of the film as well! Get updates on the film through Kickstarter! Plus a special Thank You in the end credits!

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    Palindromania! Paperback book signed by it's Author/Illustrator, Jon Agee. If you love palindromes and love cartoons, this is the perfect book for you! Also comes with digital download of the film upon completion! Get updates on the film through Kickstarter! Plus a special thank you in the end credits!

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    Kickstarter Exclusive! Signed copy of "A Man, A Plan, A Palindrome" (Short Film) This will be numbered and limited to 50 copies. Signed by director Vince Clemente. Will include DVD packaging with exclusive artwork. Also includes digital version of the finished (feature) film as well! (to be delivered when complete) Get updates on the film through Kickstarter!

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    Palindromania! Rare hardback version (NOW OUT OF PRINT) book signed by it's Author/Illustrator, Jon Agee. If you love palindromes and love cartoons, this is the perfect book for you! Also comes with digital download of the film upon completion! Get updates on the film through Kickstarter! Plus a special thank you in the end credits!

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    Kickstarter Exclusive. Signed copy of "The Sex Yak." A still from the animation in the original short signed by Ashley Mistriel, Vince Clemente, and Mark Saltveit. Numbered 1-20. 8-1/2 x 11. A great gift for all yak lovers. Includes digital version of the finished film as well! (to be delivered when complete) Get updates on the film through Kickstarter!

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    Complete set of all 7 issues of The Palindromist, all signed by it's creator Mark Saltveit. If you want to know everything there is to know about palindromes this is where to find it. Includes digital version of the finished film as well! (to be delivered when complete) Get updates on the film through Kickstarter!

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    Associate Producer Credit on final film! Plus Digital Download of the film upon completion! Get updates on the film through Kickstarter!

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    Executive Producer Credit on final film! Plus Digital Download of the film upon completion! Get updates on the film through Kickstarter!

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Funding period

- (30 days)