In The Conduits, Rachel Watkins teams up with Morris Chen to find out what happened to her father when he disappeared. Standing in their way are Fafnir and her Cavaliers who still stop at nothing to put an end to Rachel and the other conduits.
Who are you and what are you doing?
Hi, I’m Joshua Tong; the writer and director of The Conduits and I like telling stories. So much so that my concentration at NYU Gallatin has been Narrative (Re) Construction; how to tell stories and how the way we tell stories shape our world views. All of this has culminated in my taking an Advanced-level production course at NYU Tisch: and being the first non-Film Major ever to do so.
So I’m telling the sort of story that has always captured my imagination and made me want to tell stories of my own. The Conduits is a science-fiction action-adventure set in New York City about a group of people who can use magic gems fighting for survival against a secret army with laser guns who want to hunt them down. It’s got special effects and stunts, and it’s a story I really want to tell.
Who’s making this? Well, I am (see prior section). But I can’t do this alone. The Conduits will be the biggest movie I’ve made this far and so I’ve assembled an incredible team to help me make this happen.
Richard Kim is my Producer and we’ve worked together on several projects, The Mysterious Glowy Object and Ghosts That We Knew to name a couple. On The Conduits he’s been responsible for a lot of the permissions and logistics in getting us this far. Alex Hass, my Director of Photography, worked hard to give The Conduits a fantastic cinematic feel (we got a jib!). My Production Designer, Coraline Wang, and her team are working hard to create and procure costumes, magic gems, and concrete barricades. On set, Anna Rich and Katherine O'Kelly alternated between Assistant Director and Script Supervisor, keeping us on track and on time. And not to forget our team of grips, PA’s and all the other crew that goes into making a movie. In the realm of post-production, I have Justin Scholar leading a VFX team to make the gems glow and the laser guns, uh, laser; and award-winning composer Ben Yee-Paulson doing the film’s music.
Who’s in this?
Cast is important. Really important. Fortunately, casting director Kerry Candeloro found some terrifically talented actors to be in this.
Alright, this looks cool. Now then: Finances.
There’s a reason science-fiction and action-adventure movies aren’t your usual student film dare. No, I don’t mean artistic snobbery; I’m talking about money, because VFX, jibs, and fake concrete barricades don’t come cheap.
Now, we’re taking steps to keep production costs low without compromising the story. This means finding inexpensive locations, using the camera kit provided to us by Tisch rather than renting our own, and, especially, everyone agreeing to work without getting paid.
We’re still looking at a budget of $10,000, though. You may be wondering how we’re paying for this. I’ve gotten grants from NYU, which have gone a long way to helping us get this far. I work three jobs and am putting my savings into this project.
And then, of course, there’s you.
So what’s in it for me?
Ah, perks. The real reason you fund stuff on Kickstarter.
For just $9, we’ll give you access to the finished film. Due to rules about festivals and whatnot, I won’t be able to make it publicly viewable for a while. In the meantime, this is the way you’ll be able to watch it.
We’ve also got an awesome poster that Ari Hytti is working on. He did that banner up there and is also doing individual posters for our principal characters. We’re getting these printed postcard-sized and giving them out with the higher tiers. There’s also behind-the-scenes stuff and, my personal favorite, links to rough cuts with text saying ‘LASERS!’ in place of VFX under work.
And fine, yes, you’ll get the satisfaction of helping a group of student filmmakers get experience and follow their dreams and all that happy crap.
So why why are you making this movie?
Why this one? Why not something simpler, smaller, cheaper? Why the magic gems and laser guns?
Like I said in the beginning, I’m making the sort of movie I love watching. I think it’s financially feasible and there’s something to be said about movies that are fun. But like any good genre film, it provides space to talk about something more.
Over the course of writing this film I realized that this wasn’t a story about the baggage of a legacy but one about identity. So I rewrote it to focus on identity because, as someone of mixed-ethnicity and a childhood that saw him growing up all over the place, that is important to me. So why not explore it in a science fiction film?
Of course, I’m also a fan of lasers, witty banter, and badass women. So there’s that too.
Risks and challenges
This is huge.
The Conduits is the biggest movie I've ever made. There are a lot of moving parts and, with it, a lot of things that could go wrong. But a professor once told me that filmmaking is problem solving, and we've assembled a strong team with whom I have the utmost confidence will be able to solve any problems that may arise.
This is a project we believe in and something we will finish.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)