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The aardvark has evolved to be one of a kind. You could say the same of Josh Norman. A film starring Adrian Grenier and Mamie Gummer.

UPDATE!

Whitney Matheson on the USA Today blog Pop Candy lists Aardvark as a Kickstarter worth backing!

UPDATE!

New video: Brian on the story of Aardvark.

UPDATE!

Like Aardvark on Facebook and help us spread the word!

ABOUT THE FILM

Aardvark centers on Josh Norman, a man who has spent most of his adult life suffering from mental illness. While Josh rejects the labels that have been applied to him over the years, there is no question that he sees and hears things that aren’t there. Sometimes he’s well aware of this, but other times it’s not so clear. Josh’s most vivid hallucinations involve his estranged brother, Craig, a famous TV star. When Josh gets word that Craig has returned to their hometown after more than a decade away, he seeks out the help of Emily, a young therapist, who in the course of treating Josh, becomes a fan of Craig’s work… and sees her feelings for Craig veer into deeper territory. While Emily and Craig fumble around their feelings, struggling to connect, Josh forms a relationship with a young woman, Hannah, who might be his soul mate—if only he could be sure she exists.

To further whet your appetite, we've posted the first 15 pages of the working script right here.

The entrance to the aardvark enclosure at the Bronx Zoo.
The entrance to the aardvark enclosure at the Bronx Zoo.

THE CAST & CREW

ADRIAN GRENIER, known the world over as Vincent Chase, the lead character in the HBO series Entourage, will play the role of Josh Norman. Adrian has been in the news most recently in connection with the much-anticipated Entourage feature film, tentatively set to begin production later this year. While we love the art-imitating-life aspect here (the TV star who played a pretend movie star playing the brother of a pretend TV star), we firmly believe this role will allow Adrian to show a side of himself we have yet to see. Josh is charming, funny, smart and surprisingly insightful, but in the end, he is deeply vulnerable, and Adrian will capture it all beautifully.

MAMIE GUMMER will play Emily, Josh’s therapist. Emily is a young woman riddled with contradictions (she’s meticulous but short-sighted, well-meaning but far more selfish than she realizes) and we know that Mamie will absolutely shine in this role. Mamie spent last TV season as the star of the CW’s Emily Owens M.D., and recently shot the CBS pilot Backstrom, starring alongside Rainn Wilson. Her feature film work includes roles in Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock, Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects, and last year's Sundance hit The Lifeguard.

We hope to be able to announce the casting of CRAIG and HANNAH at some point during this campaign.

BRIAN SHOAF (writer/director/producer) has worked extensively with the Brooklyn-based filmmaking collective PERIODS Films. In addition to collaborating on a popular series of comic shorts (#15 on Time Out New York's 50 Funniest Web Series), Brian is a co-author of the newest PERIODS feature screenplay, Forefathers. He had a lead role in the first PERIODS feature, Breakup at a Wedding, which will be released this summer by Oscilloscope Laboratories. Brian directed Hamsters, a pilot presentation written by Damian Lanigan, which won the IFC Out of the Box Award at the 2012 New York Television Festival. Also an actor and playwright, he holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and UCLA.

The PRODUCING TEAM for this film represents a dynamic group of young artists, each of whom has carved time from his or her busy career in order to play a part in seeing this film through—from prep to delivery of the finished product. Our producers come from diverse backgrounds, and have worked with some of the most celebrated filmmakers and actors in the entertainment industry. The team will be represented by two different features premiering at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival this May. Let’s just say we’re lucky to have them on board. In addition to Brian Shoaf, they include JESSICA HONG, MARC REINA, ERICK PEYTON, SEAN AKERS and JOSEPH FLEMING.

WHY KICKSTARTER?

While we do have some outside investment, the most crucial financial asset we possess is the willingness of talented, experienced people to work well below what they would normally charge. We want to make an exceptional film, and to be able to compensate everyone involved, but we're anticipating that salaries on the project will range from next to nothing to actually nothing. Undaunted, we're moving forward, because we know there are people out there who are passionate about supporting independent film, and who want to see fresh, exciting stories brought to life. With your help, we know that we can turn our vision into a great film.

WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?

The budget for the film breaks down into a number of key categories, including talent, locations, camera and electrical, sound, production design and art direction, costumes, and post (among other fun ones, like insurance). Since we have yet to begin production, the answer to where the money goes is "all of the above." Kickstarter funds represent a lens kit for our D.P., a lighting package for our gaffer, budgets for our designers and locations manager, all required obligations to the Screen Actors Guild, and better food (we’ll be working very long days). In other words, it will go toward making Aardvark. We're not talking creature comfort—we're talking about a film that looks like it cost more than it did, a film that will get distribution, a film you will be able to see.

HOW MUCH DO WE REALLY NEED?

Our ideal target is $200,000.  We have about $50,000 from our investors, so our ultimate goal is to raise another $150,000. Our campaign goal represents the bare minimum with which we could conceivably make a version of this movie and still fulfill our obligations to our backers and cover all Kickstarter-related fees. In that scenario, we have less crew, less equipment, fewer resources and it will take a lot more time to edit and finish the movie.

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing proposition, so if we do not hit $125,000 we do not get to keep anything. That said, we do not particularly want to make the ultra-ultra-low budget version of this film either; we want to make a quality film that you can see next year. To that end, we would love to raise the remainder of our budget on Kickstarter, and arrive at the absolute best version of the film that we can make.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

We are making a feature film. It's a pretty serious undertaking, and we would like for you to be part of our team. When you join us, you will be participating in a different way. We will give our supporters access to our behind-the-scenes website, where we will share production notes, journals, photos and updates. You can follow along as we make the film, and you will get early access to everything from trailers and scenes to the final film. You will always be an insider, and always part of the team (but don't worry, we won't barrage you).

MAKE SOME CHOICES WITH US

As a part of our team, we'll look to you for input while we are in the process of making this film. You can help us choose the poster, DVD cover and t-shirt art that will be made for this campaign. All of those choices will be handled through the behind-the-scenes website.

Whether you can spare ten bucks or ten thousand, we would really love for you to be a part of this experience.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

We have a schedule for this project. We only make this schedule if the Kickstarter campaign is successful.

Development Period: Now through late May 2013
We’ve actually been at work raising funds for the film since early last year, seeking investors and partners both within and outside the film community. While we’ve been fortunate in that regard thus far, we still need your help! This Kickstarter will ensure we actually get to make the movie.

Pre-Production Period: Late May through early July 2013
During this stage, the team will hire all department heads, secure locations and negotiate deals on equipment. We’ll be seeking qualified, experienced people capable of doing excellent work at the micro-budget level (passion and dedication are a must).

Principal Photography: July 8-26, 2013
With the entire production team and cast assembled, the 15-day shoot can commence. At this point, our plan is to shoot over the course of three weeks, both in New York City and in locations further upstate in the Hudson River Valley.

Editing/Post Production: August 2013- December 2013
The editing process will have already begun during filming, but at this stage, the film will be assembled into a rough cut. Through various drafts of the cut, we’ll get feedback from the team, as well as industry professionals, until a final cut is achieved. Once we arrive at a final cut, and picture is locked, the process of finishing work can begin. This will include final sound, music and color correction. Finishing work is potentially the most protracted phase of the entire process, so this is an area where your support can make all the difference!

If setbacks occur, our supporters will be the first to know. We know that things can happen to slow the progress of such a big project, but we have a great team in place to keep us on track.

FAQ

  • The celebrity-Kickstarter intersection has caused some controversy of late, and the issue has come up with our project (although, thankfully, everyone has been very respectful). We went about putting this together by first obtaining letters of intent from both Adrian and Mamie, via their representatives. This was done without complete funding in place, and, moreover, with full disclosure that a Kickstarter was on the horizon. Their commitment is based on their love of the script and the roles, and it is no small matter. As regards a financial commitment, that comes in their time, and in the work they may ultimately turn down in order to work on our film for a low daily rate. Everyone entering this project is aware of the financial reality of the production. Everyone, from Adrian and Mamie to the producers to the wonderful artists who have been sending us reels and resumes in hopes of joining the team, is doing this for the same reason. We want to tell this story, making the best film we can with the means we have available.

    Last updated:
  • The best look into the world of Aardvark is through the script sample posted on the project page. But for those curious, here is a longer synopsis:

    Anyone who meets Josh Norman is sure to hear about his famous brother, Craig. A notable TV star, Craig is Josh’s preferred topic of conversation, allowing him to sidestep the other defining feature of his daily existence, mental illness. At 35 years old, Josh is a castoff, at times struggling for any semblance of clarity and coherence, while at other times startlingly self-aware.

    Craig is the central figure in both Josh’s real and imaginary conflicts. He has spent the last twelve years as an actor on the high-profile procedural drama Due Process, but as far as Josh is concerned, Craig’s greatest performances have come with no cameras rolling and only a single audience member. Josh is convinced that Craig has visited him periodically throughout the years, so deep in “character”as to be unrecognizable to anyone else.

    Emily Milburton, Josh’s therapist, is a freshly minted, young LCSW. To say that she is in over her head with Josh would be an understatement. Nonetheless, she sincerely tries to help him make sense of his issues—even as she is being consumed by her own.

    Aardvark is the story of what follows when Josh learns that Craig really has returned to town for the first time in over a decade. Instead of playing the role of hero, as he has done week after week on television, Craig, by re-appearing without warning, upends Josh’s entire world, and has Emily compromising not only her credibility, but her stability as well. While Emily and Craig explore a potentially disastrous attraction, Josh begins a relationship with a young woman, Hannah, who might be his soul mate—if only he could be sure she exists.

    A challenging, touching and darkly funny story, Aardvark is about the illusions we all work so hard to manufacture, and the lengths to which we go to defend them.

    Last updated:
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    SET VISIT: Get yourself to New York to visit the set during production this summer. You take care of travel and accommodations, but we will give you a seat for a day on the set (plus snack). Additionally, you will get the website access, download, DVD, t-shirt, signed poster, video thank you, two premiere tickets, and an Associate Producer credit.

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    BACKGROUND PLAYER: You will be in the movie! You will be required to get yourself to New York for filming this summer, as well as provide your own accommodations, but we will arrange for you to have a background (non-speaking, non-union) role in the film. Additionally, you will receive website access, download, DVD, t-shirt, signed poster, video thank-you and two premiere tickets, as well as your name in the credits. This is a small movie with no crowd scenes, so we're limiting this reward to only three backers... but there's just that much more likelihood your face will make it onto the screen!

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