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An animated oral history of American soldiers in the last days of World War One.
An animated oral history of American soldiers in the last days of World War One.
404 backers pledged $32,128 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Always something of a Great War buff, animator Andy Smetanka got his first taste of animating it while working on Guy Maddin's 2007 hometown "docufantasia," My Winnipeg. Further moved by a new history of the Meuse-Argonne campaign--still the bloodiest battle in American history--Smetanka set about to create an original vision of America in the fight with an animated documentary combining silhouettes and cut paper with the words of soldiers who were there. 

During a two-month period, over 25,000 Americans were killed in action in the Meuse-Argonne. To do this epic chapter in American history justice, thousands of individual paper cutouts will go into the making of And We Were Young, all hand-cut by animator Smetanka in his tiny Missoula, Montana studio. Filmed in luminous Ektachrome on an old Russian super 8 camera, And We Were Young is old-school animation in the true sense of the word, at once ultra-traditional and groundbreaking, and always fearlessly inventive. 

The interwoven stories of And We Were Young together give the whole arc of U.S. intervention in Europe, from enlistment and passage to France aboard pestilent troop-ships, through baptism by fire and lead and, for those who lived to tell about it, to the Armistice and beyond. Selected carefully from first-person accounts passed down in letters, journals, memoir and interviews, the dusty words of the men and women who were there come alive in silhouetted scenes of surprising beauty as well as shocking brutality. Mindful of this fine line, Smetanka's feature debut demonstrates what fighting men have always noticed: that war, in all its abject ugliness, can have its senseless beauty, too. 

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    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    My gratitude. Every little bit helps.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    A personal phone call to discuss the movie, World War I in general, the weather or anything else you like. Get me talking about this project and you'll practically hand me another $15 to get me off the line!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A signed 4" x 6" print of full-color silhouette art from And We Were Young, plus an original paper cutout used in the production!

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    We're going to give you the shirt off our backs! At this level you'll receive a limited edition And We Were Young T-SHIRT. Check out Update #9 for pictures of the designs!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Signed, matted 8" x 10" print of full-color silhouette art from the movie, plus a copy of the DVD release. Holy Moley! (Note: Print delivery August 2012, DVD delivery spring/summer 2013).

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Two color Great War prints and a DVD of And We Were Young (and you're thanked in the booklet!), plus a cool ultra-limited-edition DVD of my other animation. Super cool!

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    NEW LEVEL! At this pledge level you will receive a one-of-a-kind NIGHT LIGHT. If you think you are too old for a night light, or that nobody in your life would love a charming, rustically-handcrafted night light, then you have not seen night lights a la Smetanka. You will also receive a copy of the final DVD and two 4" x 6" And We Were Young silhouette prints. You can check out some pictures of the night lights in the updates section!

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Now we're talking! At this level of sponsorship you get both color prints, two DVDs, an And We Were Young commemorative t-shirt, and a rad full-color poster of the movie. Smetanka deluxe!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Forget that other stuff! This is what you really want: a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind Andy Smetanka lightbox with original And We Were Young art! It's like a giant night light, and one of these beauties would make a striking addition to any study or man-cave. Non-electric window-box version also available (please specify). Package also includes two prints, two DVDs and an And We Were Young t-shirt.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    At this level you will receive a HOUSE SHOW with the lovely ladies of BUTTER! They'll perform an evening of music for you and a group of your friends at a gathering of your creation (within the Missoula area). You'll also receive two Great War prints and a limited edition DVD of And We Were Young!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    At this level you will receive a HOUSE SHOW with GRANDFATHERGLEN! They will perform an evening of music for you and a group of your friends at a gathering of your creation! (Within the Missoula area) You'll also receive two Great War prints and a limited edition DVD of And We Were Young!

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    What's that? You like the lightbox idea but aren't into the military theme? Then how about this: just in time for Mother's Day you can generously support And We Were Young AND pick up a cool CUSTOM LIGHTBOX for your special lady. Flowers? Birds? Bees? Landscape? You name it. For the man of the house, package also includes two signed art prints, two DVDs, and a swanky And We Were Young hoodie. A bunch of birds with one $750 stone!

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    And We Were Young backer, you have ARRIVED! Your four-digit donation covers a lot of film and processing for the movie. And we've got you covered, too: two signed prints, two DVDs, a swell movie poster and And We Were Young hoodie, PLUS a visit to the Smetanka studio to try your hand at silhouette animation. It's tons of fun, and who knows? Some of your animation might make it into the movie! I'll even throw in lunch. Now beat that.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    At this level you will receive a HOUSE SHOW with RICK BASS & STELLARONDO! The gang will come to a gathering of your creation (within the Missoula area) and treat you to an evening of songs and scored stories from their upcoming album! You'll also receive two Great War prints and a limited edition DVD of And We Were Young!

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Wow, that's some generous support: almost a tenth of our filmmaking budget! Can I thank you in the credits? Can I cut a silhouette likeness of you and make you a character in the movie? And would you like one of everything else mentioned as a reward so far? You got it!

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

    Your passionate support is overwhelming. In addition to everything listed so far, we are making you Executive Producer in the credits. And if there's anything else we can reasonably do to show our gratitude, just ask us.

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Funding period

- (32 days)