Tiny Ocean tells the story of hope in what many would describe as a hopeless city. The story follows the lives of two young artists living in Detroit, and shows the effects that each of them have on each other when they strike up an unlikely friendship which only lasts one night.
The story follows Luchi, a down on her luck painter facing a forced eviction the next day from months of unpaid rent. Out of family and friends, money, and almost out of hope, she attempts to stave off eviction by exchanging all her returnable beer cans for a handful of cheap scratch-off lottery tickets. It is then that she has a chance encounter with a far more desperate, and somewhat mysterious, graffiti artist named Sembene. The two strike up a fast friendship that effects them both in ways they couldn't imagine.
When I finished my last short feature, Valhalla Blues, me and my brother, Adam Skorupskas, began work on what we thought would be our first feature film. It was based off a story he wrote, that was selected by Chuck Palahniuk to appear in his short story anthology titled "Burnt Tongues." As he began adapting the story into a screenplay format we decided we would first make it into a short feature, which anybody will tell you isn't easy.
We began thinking where that might take us. Perhaps we could fundraise off our short and slingshot it into an opportunity to make it into a feature? As we continued writing throughout the winter months it became clear there was an opportunity to incorporate Detroit as a character in the story, and in the process tell a story in Detroit, about Detroit, in a way that hasn't been done before.
One of the primary inspirations for this film, and how I'll present it, came from my love of old cinema and the type of stories they told. In the the old days they would tell these tales of desperate characters attempting all sorts of things, but still give it a sort of magic that I think doesn't come through as much in modern films. The more I looked at this story the more I saw a story of two characters, stranded in an iconic city, as an opportunity to explore the idea of using the city to help tie it in with the story. The way I'd portray the Detroit would be more in line with how some of the movies that were shot in and around bombed out European cities after the second World War. Films like Casablanca, filling the scene with colorful characters, telling a gritty story, but also infusing the city with the character and texture of a those faded European cities. Rather than only focusing on urban decay; which Detroit seems to be known for at the moment.
In Casablanca, you have a movie which takes place in a city of desperation and despair; everyone wants to get out, and only a very few have the opportunity to escape aboard the one flight out everyday. In Tiny Ocean we have Sembene, a foreigner stuck in Detroit due to extraordinary and tragic circumstances. His only desire is to escape and reunite with his family, who are no longer in Africa but are now safely living somewhere in New Zealand. Sembene, born in a war torn country in Africa, survived some sort of terrible attack which left him unable to speak. With no family, no documents and no voice Sembene's hope of escape and reuniting with his family grows slimmer each day. His only chance is earning passage on a tugboat that acts as an underground channel for escapees. An opportunity for New Zealand is a rare and expensive transit, and its window of opportunity opens and closes fast. If Semebene doesn't earn his passage soon his hope of escape might be gone forever.
I hope the folks that will have an opportunity to see this picture will be first and foremost be entertained by this story; of two unlikely friends trying to get through another day in the city. Every movie I make I first hope it to be entertaining, but I also try and say/show something unique in every new project I work on. With Tiny Ocean I enjoy the chance I'll have to show/say something about Detroit that many others have not. I find the city to be a fascinating and wonderful town, it has its fair share of issues, but this movie isn't only about Detroit and how it fits into the current narrative. It's a small story about two interesting characters, and their chance encounter in Detroit.
Woody Allen has New York, Michael Mann has Los Angeles - places where many story tellers have told all genres possible. Detroit hasn't had too many different types of stories told in or about it; furthermore those few stories have contained reoccurring characters, and tired themes that rarely exploit Detroit's true potential as a filmmaking destination. My idea would not be to treat Detroit as a place meant only to fit into a larger narrative; Detroit is an interesting town as it stands alone, but more importantly, it is a city worth telling interesting stories in.
With your guys' help we hope to go into production mid-to-late July. We have everything we need; cast, crew, locations, all working towards bringing this little story to life. Given our sheer enthusiasm and drive, many cast and crew are working for little-to-nothing in order to bring this story to the screen. However, there are unavoidable costs and practices that need payment with no getting around it: quality lighting and camera equipment, lenses, locations, hair and makeup, special effects, costume, food, travel, security and gasoline - these are not free. Given our extensive, due-diligent research and calculations of our budget, we are more than prepared to perform at the most cost effective scale without sacrificing quality. With your help we will be able to overcome these obstacles with a mere swoosh of a hand, or check. Once the production is over, any funding we have left, if any, will immediately be put towards post-production (editing) in order to put Tiny Ocean in the festival circuit in time for early bird festival submission season later this year.
The project will be shot by the wonderfully talented Cinematographer Tommy DaGuanno. He is a highly accredited Cinematographer, and has also done all of my projects in the past. Here is his reel for your viewing pleasure!
Risks and challenges
No one ever said show-business is easy! Going into production on a movie, even a short one, can be one of the most difficult and stressful endeavors anyone could ever plan on undertaking. Add 15 crew members, weather, a difficult actor, falling behind on your shot list or the other two million things that could possibly go on at any moment on a film set, any one of the things could easily sink any project alone! We don't blame a good intentioned investor for being nervous about handing over their hard earned cash towards such a foolish endeavor. You'd be right to worry... UNLESS you came across the cast and crew of Tiny Ocean! You wont find a more experienced, hard working, and excited group of kids in the business. There isn't a member of the cast or crew that haven't helped countless productions get off and back to ground safe and sound. As for myself, the captain of the ship some might say, well, I've been working towards this goal for the last year of my life, and I am not about to let something like a weather delay throw me off my shot list. Or, an actor who's lost his motivation falter mine. We'll be listing IMDB pages of some cast and crew in the coming days to give anyone additional confidence - you will stand in awe at the amount of movies and creative projects many of the cast and crew members have in their collective experience folder. In our hands, your money will be safer then our own. No one in this production takes the notion of a complete stranger helping us achieve this goal we've all been working towards lightly. The opportunity at a chance to tell this story is something I will be eternally grateful for, I will forever be in your debt. Anyone need someone to help them move for the rest of their lives? I'm your guy!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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