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"Toy Story" writer & independent filmmaker bring George Orwell's most personal story to life.
"Toy Story" writer & independent filmmaker bring George Orwell's most personal story to life.
152 backers pledged $25,309 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$25,309

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THANK YOU to all of our backers; our endless gratitude for your support!

- JP & ALEC

Visual Reference Concept Poster
Visual Reference Concept Poster

BEAST

is a realization of George Orwell's famous essay "Shooting An Elephant" set in its original form - the former British rule of Burma.

EXT. PADDY FIELDS - "Blair is still walking. More grim now. The crowd continues to grow."
EXT. PADDY FIELDS - "Blair is still walking. More grim now. The crowd continues to grow."

Everyone's resentment and hatred smolders on a young and passionately rebellious English policeman facing the impossible decision to become violent.

George Orwell in Burma Provincial Police Training School in Mandalay (1921).
George Orwell in Burma Provincial Police Training School in Mandalay (1921).

BEAST is a piece about the flaws of empire building and how it destroys all individuals in the process. But it is so much more. It is a story without borders about self discovery, and the universal need for compassion.

THE STORY

"It had broken its chains and escaped."
"It had broken its chains and escaped."

George Orwell famously shot an elephant in Burma when he was twenty-five years old and working as a colonial policeman. The animal, which had been in musth (a sexual period when male elephants are hyper aggressive), had just killed a man.

Ordered by his superiors to "handle" it, egged on by the distrusting natives, he suddenly found himself public executioner -- a violent role that stripped him of his humanity and dignity.

This was 1927.

"In order to hate imperialism you have got to be part of it." - George Orwell

ORWELL: The Prophet.

I am deeply moved by George Orwell; his manifesto is unyielding, honest and pure. He made political writing an art form and in the process crystalized some of the 20th Century's most read books "1984" and "Animal Farm" & famous neologisms ('Cold War', ‘Big Brother’, 'Room 101',   'thought police', ‘thoughtcrime’, ‘Ministry of Love’, ‘doublethink’, ‘four legs good, two legs bad’). There is no doubt that his experience in Burma horrified him, awoke him, and shaped him. He is immortally relevant because of it. 

ESSAY TO SCRIPT

me :)
me :)

I am interested in the developing world. Having grown up in Venezuela, India and the Philippines, I value their way of life and the natural beauty that make them irreplaceable gifts of the universe.

Orwell's stories first captured my imagination while attending high-school in the Philippines. This was also the same time I decided I was going to make movies.

Nearly two years ago, I was given permission by the Orwell Estate to adapt "Shooting An Elephant" and I've been putting the pieces of this project together ever since. Early on it became clear that this was a major undertaking and that I needed help.

Alec Sokolow
Alec Sokolow

As luck would have it, my good friend Alec Sokolow also revered Orwell and became my partner in this project. Alec is an amazing writer who co-wrote TOY STORY and has followed that up with many other commercially successful studio films. But this project isn't about commercial success -- it's about putting together a beautiful film that we're passionate about, not only for Orwell fans, but also for people who want to see art exist in the world. Kickstarter seems like the perfect place to seek out others who love Orwell's stories so that we can bring this hidden classic to life.

Alec's first draft was so good that I realized we really could put together something worthy of Orwell. This film will be longer than a typical short, and we can't just shoot anywhere...

FILMING IN INDIA

Few places in the world can match the natural beauty of Burma, but India's scenery will provide a captivating visual experience.

India also has one of the most populated areas of elephants in the world. For all of you animal lovers out there (us too!), one of our highest priorities will be to "cast" animals that have been raised and treated humanely. We will also ensure that absolutely no harm comes to them during filming. Check out the "ELEPHANT EFFECTS" pledge.

Our Kickstarter Goal

Over the last few months Alec and I have been busy fundraising privately and we are now halfway to reaching our budget. To that end: 

Our Kickstarter goal is to raise $15,000. This will get us close enough to launch pre-production while we finish our raise. Thanks to our first kickstarter effort (despite unsuccessful to getting funded), we have been able to minimize costs on equipment rental, post-production services and travel fees, lowering our budget to $80,000. 

Budget Breakdown: 

$70,000 PRODUCTION - Equipment, lodging/airfare, and production wages (and kickstarter fees). We'll head to India in the fall and spend 2 weeks prepping and shooting in remote locations. We'll bring the basics, but we'll also need to hire a lot of local talent and help, including some amazing elephants. 

$5,000 POST-PRODUCTION - editing bay and wages, color correction. After coming back from India, we'll spend the next 60 days in post-production, final editing and scoring the music. 

$5,000 FESTIVALS - We'll then submit the film to festivals on four continents (North America, South America, Europe and Asia) and present the film to as many ones as possible.

Can we exceed the funding goal?

YES! Given we will still need extra money for post-production, each dollar raised will be used for completing the film.

HOW TO PLEDGE AND BECOME A BACKER!

  • Step 1: Read through the pledge levels and rewards we're offering in the right sidebar of this page.
  • Step 2: Click the large, green "BACK THIS PROJECT" button to the right of the trailer video at the top of this page. 
  • Step 3: Enter your pledge amount - and complete the steps for filling in your information. It is processed through amazon.com. This process takes just a few minutes!

That's it! 

ENDLESS THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Video imagery of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" & "Animal Farm" by George Orwell (published by Secker & Warburg) book cover art use by permission of The Random House Group Limited.

Risks and challenges

Like all film projects, keeping everything on track and on budget is always the biggest challenge. it's greater on this short because we'll be filming in a foreign country, requiring local area knowledge, permitting and help. I have a better handle on this because my family moved to India when I was young -- I'm intimately familiar with the country's values and culture. I know we can make this happen!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    DIGITAL MOVIE // We'll send you your very own digital download of Alec's amazing script and copy of the film, and online credit with a big THANK YOU on our website for supporting our movie.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    DVD // We'll send you a signed DVD of the finished film to add to the digital copies of the script and film and online THANK YOU.

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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    HAPPY 110th BIRTHDAY GEORGE ORWELL // Celebrate the life and works of George Orwell. Get a special GEORGE ORWELL FAN End Credit on the film. Also get fully immersed in the material by receiving a copy of all his works that inspired our film. You will also receive the digital copies of the script and film, signed DVD of the film and a big THANK YOU.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    LA SCREENING AND Q & A WITH ALEC SOKOLOW // Join me and Alec as we present the final cut of the film to our supporters in LA. This reward is for you and a date to meet us in person and help celebrate this major milestone. You'll have to provide your own travel and accommodation to event. Of course, you'll also get digital copies of everything, the signed DVD and a big THANK YOU.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    "ELEPHANT EFFECTS MADE POSSIBLE BY" END CREDIT // We will only "cast" animals that have been raised and treated humanely. We will also ensure that absolutely no harm comes to them during filming. Your contribution here will be earmarked specifically towards this purpose. You will share the screen with up to four other backers on a special end credit that will be on of the film forever. Join me at any of our film screenings. Enjoy all of this with your digital copies of the script and film, and signed DVD copy. THANK YOU.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER CREDIT // Be a major part of our adventure and call this film into existence! You'll get Associate Producer credit (end titles and IMDb). You're also invited to any of our domestic or international screenings where you can hang with me and others involved in this film (travel is on you). You'll also get all the goodies (digital script and film, signed DVD, etc.).

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CREDIT // Be one of the few people who will share executive producer credit on this film with Alec and I (end titles and IMDb) and be a part of Orwell history. You'll of course get all the goodies too. Enough said.

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Funding period

- (31 days)