About this project
WAIF: 1. A person, especially a child, who has no home or friends. 2. something found, especially a stray animal, whose owner is not known. 3. a very thin, often small person, usually a young woman. 4. A low-budget sci-fi movie shot in Memphis.
WAIF is about (1) re-creating a late 70's science-fiction vibe on screen. (2) local MEMPHIS film and music-making talent. (3) the next underground film project from creator MIKE McCARTHY. (4) a tribute to McCarthy's adopted mother Mildred and her siblings Jane and James.
(1) We all love the major sci-fi and space fantasy releases from the late seventies, whether it was ALIEN, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, or (oh yeah) STAR WARS. But there were other cool films that hardly surfaced, yet made an impact on us filmmakers now in our late forties/early fifties. Films with a certain low-budget look and human feel such as EQUINOX, LASER BLAST, DARK STAR, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS and those sci-fi films that turned the princess into warrior: GALAXINA with Dorothy Stratten or STARCRASH with Caroline Munro. Now we are going to turn 15 year old MORGANA PREWETT into WAIF!
(2) WAIF stars 15 year old MORGANA PREWETT in her first starring role as "Mildred Hanelsa" aka "WAIF", a telekinetic teenage robot fighter. This is also a first film for young GILLIAN JOHNSON who plays her little sister "Jane" whose image becomes a symbol for the the evil empire known as MAINFRAME following her death in outer space. Actor DELVYN BROWN plays Captain McLeod, a time-travelling gun-runner from the 20th century who crashes into earth 300 years into the future. Playing the role of the menacing and mysterious E-BOT is actor DAVE HEINEMAN.
BART SHANNON (Songs in the Key of Death, Pretty Monsters, Fresh Skweezed) is a writer-director based in Memphis who is turning McCarthy's outline notes into a first draft. The draft is then re-written or edited. ALEX GREEN (Rolling Head Orchestra, Reigning Sound, Panther Burns, Luv Clowns) is writing the score for WAIF.
Sixteen year old, blue haired, Spacecase recording artist HANNA STAR will not only be writing a song or two for WAIF, it stands to reason that Hanna was the major influence on the characters creation. Hanna's middle name is Mildred (after her grandmother) and Waif's last name is a combination of Hanna and her two cosplaying friends Nell and Elsie which forms HANELSA. Waif's proper name becomes MILDRED HANELSA. Hanna's interest in anime, cosplay, and writing songs for the TEENAGE TEENAGERS has given her (sometimes jaded) director dad new faith that 'the kids are all right.'
FX artist and model builder MATT SINGER (Star Trek: Nemesis, Bicentennial Man, Species 2) is designing and building a two foot long "IRIS 3" spaceship and attacking enemy drone ships called "Big Irons". This spaceship battle will be featured in the opening sequence of WAIF. 3-D Special FX artist RAFE MURRAY will create the laser blasts and explosions as well as keying out green screen. One incredible moment will occur when the damaged LOOKOUT 3 spaceship crashes through a drive-in movie screen. Professional cosplay seamstress KATIE JONES is handling Mildred and Jane's original school girl costume designs.
Last but certainly not least, is robot-builder CASPER WELLS. Casper is designing and creating the 7 foot tall E-BOTS that threaten our heroes at the dead-end drive-in - as well as the cute ROBOT BUNNY that WAIF keeps in her backpack that speaks with the voice of her dead sister. Other key people involved behind the camera with WAIF are RICK O'BRIEN (Native Son), MARCUS KENT HAMSON (Midnight Movie), GREGORY GRAY (Turra : Gun Angel), KEITH CRASS (Goddamn Godard, Arthouse T-shirts) and make-up artist supreme KASEY DEES (Midnight Movie).
(3) Mike McCarthy created WAIF while observing the dealers room, con guests, and cosplayers at the 2014 Memphis Comics and Fantasy Convention. McCarthy imagined all this fandom (or 'geek culture' as it has been called) could be focused into a single narrative in the form of a good old pulp story. McCarthy knew he could do this because he's been doing it for twenty years.
MIKE McCARTHY is the king of Underground Filmmaking in Memphis, Tennessee, creating such classics as DAMSELVIS, DAUGHTER OF HELVIS, TEENAGE TUPELO, THE SORE LOSERS, BROAD DAYLIGHT, CIGARETTE GIRL and NATIVE SON. In 2014, Mike McCarthy and BLACK LODGE VIDEO (with the help of MALCO THEATERS) helped program the once-a-month screening at the Summer Drive-In called TIME WARP DRIVE-IN. The resulting program is so successful it has returned for a second season in 2015. Memphis has two drive-ins: one dead, one alive. WAIF will be filmed at the abandoned Southwest Twin drive-in near Graceland - and will be screened at the last surviving (and thriving!) Summer Drive-In on Summer Avenue. This could only happen in Memphis!
McCarthy wants to screen WAIF in three episodes starting on August 15, September 5, and October 24th on the TIME WARP drive-in screen. The complete version of WAIF (and wrap party!) will premiere at the MEMPHIS COMICS AND FANTASY CONVENTION on November 21, 2015.
(4) McCarthy's mother was Mildred Raby. That was her biological name. Then her parents died on Lookout Mountain within months of each other around 1925. Mildred, her older brother James, and their little sister Jane, soon found themselves bought and sold into the Memphis Orphanage run by the notorious 'baby thief' Georgia Tann.
By definition, Mildred and her siblings were "waif's".
Jane was quickly adopted out to the Coffin family. James went to the Jordan family in Northeast Mississippi. Mildred was left at the Memphis Orphanage to suffer a nervous breakdown at the age of 8 years old. Georgia Tann convinced the Jordan's to take Mildred and let her be with her brother James. Mildred's last name finally became 'Jordan'. However, it would be over ten years before Jane could be reunited with Mildred and James.
McCarthy (also adopted) has not only invested these family names into his story, but also the sense of isolation and desolation that Mildred feels trapped in the Drive-In, pondering the death of her little sister, and the awkward relationship with the boy James who thinks he is a robot, because he has been inside one for 300 years.
Many low-budget sci-fi movies only give you the literal surface to a dystopian world. WAIF digs deeper. WAIF is based on a true story that, at it's heart, is about loss and hope - and reveals these very human metaphors at a dead end drive-in.
Thanks for reading. We hope you can help us make this movie a reality!
Risks and challenges
The risk factor is simple. Everyone is doing this for free or far less than would be normally acceptable. This creates stress. Bonds do grow tighter because everyone is counting on each other. We can make this for 6.5K but no one will complain if we go over and hit 8K and hit 10K or beyond.
Writer/Director Mike McCarthy has faced these low-budget challenges before with features such as CIGARETTE GIRL (27K) and THE SORE LOSERS (31K). He's good at making something for nothing - and 6.5K is nothing. The cast, crew, sets, and locations are lined up and some aspects of pre-production have already started. The faith is there. We need this money to finish it right.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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