Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 24, 2013.

Photo-main
Play
00:00
00:00

1909 period film about Cryptozoology. The search for mythological creatures. By VFX veterans Miguel Ortega & Tran Ma

Miguel Ortega Director/ Creator
Vfx artist on :300, Thor, The Mist, Priest, Underworld Evolutions, Drag me to Hell
Tran Ma / Production Designer/ Creator Vfx artist on : Transformers 3, Thor, Alice in Wonderland, G.I Joe, John Addams

Be sure to check our facebook page here

See How We Build A Lifesize Diving Suit

Our project is a 1909 period film pilot about cryptozoology. The search for mythological or unproven creatures. A Faustian tale about loosing oneself in the process of achieving our goals.


Dr. Marlowe, a paleontologist and professor, finds a piece of a map pointing to the place where the Ningyo, the mythical Japanese creature, could be found. The legend claims whomever consumes its flesh will attain remarkable longevity. He presents the project to his peers, who mock and dismiss him as a fraud. He decides to risk everything and go after the Ningyo on his own in hopes to bring to light what could be one of the greatest contributions to science. What he could not anticipate is that, in his search, he is confronted with a choice that puts the very foundations of his morality to the test.

Ponce De Leon type adventure involving deep sea diving and underwater caverns.

This is a pilot for what we hope will be a series or feature film. (currently 15-22 minutes in length) 

The Ningyo
The Ningyo
The Melusine
The Melusine
Ningyo Production Art
Ningyo Production Art
The California Desert, 1909
The California Desert, 1909
The hunt of the Ningyo
The hunt of the Ningyo
Actual Set Work In Progress (click to enlarge)
Actual Set Work In Progress (click to enlarge)

Our film is a character driven piece set around true historical events that were happening during the turn of the century. The world is grounded in a realistic tone mixed with fantasy elements. 

There's a saying that goes "science kills magic." What makes this era so appealing to us as storytellers is that anything was possible. The world was not fully discovered, science was still in its infancy, and the possibility of creatures and monsters were very real. 

This was a time when creatures that were once considered mythological or fictitious were actually being discovered. Monsters were being excavated in the golden era of paleontology. The Okapi or as it was called "the African Unicorn" once considered a mythic creature, was found in the Congo in 1901, and was thereafter adopted as an emblem by the International Society of Cryptozoology.

Left to Right, The Okapi, Giant Squid, Tasmanian Tiger, Rhino
Left to Right, The Okapi, Giant Squid, Tasmanian Tiger, Rhino

In the early turn of the century conservation and hunting crossed paths. The conflicting mentality was to find the most exotic animals, kill them, and "preserve" them. This was seen as a way of bringing public attention to wildlife and to habitat conservation before they became extinct.

The Collection of H.Prestor Sealous (work in progress set)
The Collection of H.Prestor Sealous (work in progress set)
A character piece that happens to have creatures; not a creature film that happens to have characters. 


Our characters are inspired by the scientists, naturalists, and explorers of the day, which include:

  • Carl Akeley: a prolific explorer and the father of modern-day taxidermy
  • Frederick Sealous: the famous hunter who inspired Author H. Rider Haggard to create Allan Quatermain who is the basis of Indiana Jones.
  • Grover Krantz: the 1960s anthropology professor and the first serious researcher to delve into the world of cryptozoology.
     

Like Indiana Jones, which we love, we want to delve into some fantastical elements; however, we want to keep the consequences of our characters' actions more grounded in reality, death should have a deeper weight. And any character can die. We are more interested in the psychological than in the action.

Our Fictitious School C. 1909
Our Fictitious School C. 1909
Professor Marlowe Giving Lecture on the Ningyo
Professor Marlowe Giving Lecture on the Ningyo
Professor Marlowe Enters the Home of H. Prestor Sealous
Professor Marlowe Enters the Home of H. Prestor Sealous
Professor Marlowe Meets H.Prestor Sealous
Professor Marlowe Meets H.Prestor Sealous
The Deal
The Deal
Design Variations
Design Variations

------------------------------------------------------

Older Storyboard Sequence (click to enlarge)
Older Storyboard Sequence (click to enlarge)

Rodrigo Lopresti: Professor Marlowe
IMDB
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jacob Witkin: H Prestor Sealous
IMDB
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gabe Fazio: Professor Baldwin
IMDB

"Characters first" doesn't mean that we don't love creatures!. This series of films will be jam packed with new and inventive creatures. The only requirement we have is to make creatures that  could possibly exist, If you think of an Apatosaurus and then look at a Pink fairy armadillo, you will realize anything is possible. Just no "Heavy Metal" monsters.

Every creature in the film is designed from scratch by our team
Every creature in the film is designed from scratch by our team

Avoid the obvious...no Bigfoot, no Lochness Monster, no Unicorns, etc. There are thousands of amazing cryptid myths and folklores about creatures from different cultures around the world. We want to find the most obscure mythological creatures; the ones with the richest stories and tie them into our world.

If there is technology, it should be the complete opposite of something like "Iron Man". Instead of fast we go Slow, instead of "high-tech" we have leaks, oil spills, and malfunctions.

In other words the technological reality of that time. no ray guns and no robotic nazi gorillas. Any tech used has to be plausible for the era. 

*suit inspired by deep sea suit created in 1882 by the Carmagnolle Brothers of France

Every set is built by the two of us in our living room or bedroom. Every inch of our house (besides the bathroom) has been converted into a set, all the antiques were purchased on Craigslist for as cheap as we could get them; restored, refinished, restained to look their best. A period film is expensive, but by using our wits instead of our wallets we have managed to find ways of making this possible. 

Running Time of project is between 15-20 minutes

Director/ Creator: Miguel Ortega
Production Designer/ Creator: Tran Ma
Screenplay: Gregory Collins
Cinematography: Michael Epple


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Green Ruby Pumpkin: is a short film we made inspired by the work on Edward Gorey, Dr.Seuss, Charles Addams and Shel SIlverstein.

Although completely different in tone and style, it shows what is possible with $7,000. Created entirely in the living room, every costume, set, and creature was created and art directed by hand. We now have more equipment, an amazing crew of artists which we are lucky to be a part of and the determination to get this done. 

Making of Video:


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We live for this stuff. We want to try doing creature films that don't fall into the typical formula. We want to try a creature film that treats monsters and creatures as plausible, not as fantastical (even if they are). We want to try a tone that isn't typical to this genre of films, blending history with creatures with a tone more in line with, "There will be blood", "Devils Backbone" and other period tragedies. We realize this is nothing like the Green Ruby Pumpkin, but the truth is we love "Bambi" as much as We love the "Exorcist"!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Special Thanks to: Yuo Tengara, Alex Alvarez, Darrin Krumweide, Daniel Kho, Chris Gillet, Jonathan Kuo, Matthew Jones, Ian Whittaker, Ha Minh Hoan, Pham Tung Quan and the entire crew for helping us with this presentation.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Making a period film with creatures is an expensive difficult task but we are confident we can get it done.

We have an advantage over most filmmakers, although we are asking for many favors to get this done, we can manage to do it ourselves if all goes to hell.

We own all the gear, the shooting location and we do the fx ourselves.
$50,000 is going to help us speed things up substantially but sometimes these things take longer than expected.

Few Details:

-Gifts requiring your presence (tours, tickets to the screening, a role in the movie, etc.) mean you must pay for your own travel/lodging.

-Prize requiring on screen presence require certain criteria. Costume sizes etc. please contact us for more info.

-Some prizes include shipping. We will ship anywhere in the world but we ask that international orders pay for their own shipping so we can put the $$ into the project and not into mail.

FAQ

  • This is 100% live action film with high end visual effects.

    Last updated:
  • Between 15-22 minutes. Depending on how we do on Kickstarter.

    Last updated:
  • Great question.
    Unlike The Green Ruby Pumpkin, we want to shoot as much practical sets as possible.
    We feel a period film should have a certain feel that is very time consuming (but not impossible)
    to achieve digitally. Another thing to consider is this is a 1909 period film. This changes everything. NOTHING can be bought at a regular store, every piece has to be carefully researched and either rented or purchased to be accurate to the era. Costumes, Locations, Vehicles...etc

    Aside from our home we want to film in some amazing locations including the salt mines of Colombia, Death Valley and Africa

    Basically what is expensive for hollywood (vfx) is inexpensive to us..its what we do.
    What is inexpensive to Hollywood (costumes and locations) is expensive to us.

    Last updated:
  • If we raise over $50,000 we would make a completely new 22 minute episode.
    This would allow us to delve much deeper into the world established with the first episode.
    More Adventure, More Creatures

    Last updated:
1,025
Backers
$81,791
pledged of $50,000 goal
0
seconds to go
  • Pledge $5 or more
    You selected

    25 backers

    $5 - Our eternal gratitude, plus special thanks on project website.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $10 or more
    You selected

    357 backers

    Digital download of the film, special thanks on film website. Full Color Vinyl Sticker

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $3 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $20 or more
    You selected

    93 backers

    Exclusive full color Film Poster. SIgned (if you wish) by Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma. Digital download of the film, special thanks on film website.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $30 or more
    You selected

    167 backers

    Blu-ray of film, Digital Download, special thanks on film website. *Bluray includes The Green Ruby Pumpkin as well

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $40 or more
    You selected

    83 backers

    Your name in the on-screen credits under special thanks, blu-ray, special thanks on website.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $55 or more
    You selected

    88 backers

    Cryptozoology crew t-shirt plus $40 level rewards.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $100 or more
    You selected

    116 backers

    Screen used small creature specimen inside glass jar with custom label. Signed (if you wish) by creators Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma. PLUS Your name in the on-screen credits under special thanks, blu-ray, digital download, special thanks on website.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $25 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $200 or more
    You selected

    18 backers

    Film poster signed by cast and crew, 5 high quality limited edition prints of pre-production art, PLUS Screen used creature specimen inside Glass jar with custom label. Signed (if you wish) by creators Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma. Your name in the on-screen credits under special thanks, blu-ray, digital download, special thanks on website.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $25 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $300 or more
    You selected

    13 backers

    Screen Used hand painted Head Oddity inside glass dome with wooden base, Each piece is custom made and Signed by Creators and Cast. PLUS your name in the on-screen credits under special thanks, blu-ray, digital download, special thanks on website.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $25 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $500 or more
    You selected

    4 backers Limited (6 left of 10)

    YOUR CREATURE PORTRAIT: Submit a high resolution image of yourself and we will transform it into a fantastical/horrific Creature. Each piece is custom painted by Creature Designers Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma. Each piece comes printed, aged and in an old fashioned Victorian frame. Also includes Blu-ray of film, Tshirt, Digital Download, special thanks on film website.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $1,000 or more
    You selected

    5 backers All gone!

    Cryptozoology Kit: Screen Used Antique (100 year old) Wooden Box with custom made (hand drawn) Cryptozoology book, Maps, small creature skulls and prop Vials. (Fake Non Functioning) prop revolver Signed by entire Cast and Creators. PLUS your name in the on-screen credits under special thanks, blu-ray, digital download, special thanks on website.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $50 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $1,500 or more
    You selected

    2 backers Limited (4 left of 6)

    Associate Producer credit on IMDB and in the film, PLUS film poster signed by cast and crew, 5 high quality limited edition prints of pre-production art, blu-ray, digital download, credit on website.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $35 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $2,000 or more
    You selected

    2 backers Limited (1 left of 3)

    Walk in role in the film. Show up to LA, we put you in some period clothes and youre on set. Hang out with us for an entire day as we shoot for the day. Co-producer credit on IMDB and in the on-screen credits, Bluray, Poster

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $3,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    VFX Boot-Camp learning session! Learn something about how to do what we do. 10, 3 hour classes on how to create digital environments for the film industry. PLUS film poster signed by cast and crew, 5 high quality limited edition prints of pre-production art, blu-ray, digital download, credit on website.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $25 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $5,000 or more
    You selected

    2 backers Limited (2 left of 4)

    IMDB and ON-SCREEN PRODUCER CREDIT! PLUS VFX bootcamp/Skype learning session, SCREEN USED SPECIMEN, film poster signed by cast and crew, 5 high quality limited edition prints of pre-production art, blu-ray, digital download, credit on website.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $10,000 or more
    You selected

    1 backer All gone!

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit on IMDB and on-screen! PLUS a hand sculpted 1 of a kind creature hand sculpted and painted by Miguel Ortega, Very limited edition art of book, signed by all cast and crew. VFX bootcamp learning session, prop Revolver signed by cast and crew, 5 high quality pre-production art prints on Canvas, blu-ray, digital download, credit on website. As executive producer you have shooting access. Drop by watch us make this happen.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $10,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit on IMDB and on-screen! PLUS The Original Lifesize, SCREEN USED INTERIOR DIVING SUIT (interior upper body only) Created by 20+ year FX veteran Ted Smith. 5 high quality pre-production art prints, blu-ray, digital download, credit on website. * Please contact us beforehand to arrange shipping. As executive producer you have shooting access. Drop by watch us make this happen.

    Estimated delivery:
Funding period

- (30 days)