About this project
We open on a diner as former featherweight champ ‘Miracle Kid’ Carraway relays his life story to a sympathetic waitress: How he rose to the top, how the mob broke his leg for refusing to take a dive, and how he created a nuclear powered oatmeal man to protect himself. You know, pretty standard stuff! What he didn’t count on was raising Oats as a son. They form a strong father-son bond and Carraway ends up teaching Oats how to fight, which culminates in a title match against a steam-powered robot owned by the mobster who destroyed Carraway’s career. Who’s going to win the fight, and at what cost?
This is a bizarre short story. Thematically it pulls from Jewish folklore, film noir, 50’s monster movies, and nuclear paranoia. It’s inspired by the legend of the Golem, a creature built from clay and brought to life through ritual. From there, I began to wonder about the act of creation... What would happen if the creator loved his Golem and raised it like a son? How do art, science, and family relate to the idea of legacy and self-expression? Can we avoid grooming our children to follow in our footsteps, intentionally or not? These are some of the questions lurking in the subtext of this strange pulpy fable. At the end of the day, I want to create a character driven story that’s entertaining to watch and inspires further thought.
Aesthetically, the short film will combine live action with traditional techniques like stop-motion animation, matte painting, miniatures, and live puppetry. Creating something that feels tactile and handmade is very important to me both visually and philosophically. There is no substitute for real textures and shapes photographed practically under real lights, especially when bringing the fantastical to life. Steel Cut Oats will employ handmade disciplines to create a memorable aesthetic that looks toward the future while paying homage to the past, and serves the story above all else.
At the end of the day, I want to share this story with the world through film festivals and eventually a wide online release. But this short is just the beginning! While Oats is meant to stand on its own, it is also a proof-of-concept for several other projects that all share the same vision: Character driven content created through traditional handmade techniques. Getting involved with Oats is an opportunity to pull a very special team together and give us a chance to show what we can do, to create a compelling short film that will ultimately serve as a calling card for a whole slew of shorts and features we’ve got brewing.
Harry Chaskin - Director/Writer
Harry has written and directed projects for Adult Swim, Warner Bros, DC, FunnyOrDie, College Humor and Mattel. He has designed and created the animation for numerous music videos, television shows, and award winning commercials. He recently co-created the Annie-nominated web series Friendship All-Stars for L/Studio. Other notable credits include Robot Chicken, WWE Slam City, Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole, and Dinosaur Office. Check out his work at www.harrychaskin.com.
Andrew Knapp - Director of Photography
Andy most recently was the Director of Photography on the cult hit The Birthday Boys on IFC, executive produced by Bob Odenkirk. He also served as a DP on the second season of Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell premiering on Adult Swim this summer. Andy is a graduate of the prestigious California Institute of the Arts, and a Masters candidate at University of California, Los Angeles. You can see more of his work at www.knapptime.co.
Ashley Lenz - Story Artist
Ashley is an award winning director, storyboard artist, and illustrator. Born and raised in Canada, he attended Sheridan College of Visual Arts and Applied Technologies and has worked on films, television series, commercials, and music videos throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. His credits include The Simpsons, The Simpsons Movie, The Frog Princess, Dan Vs. (for which he received an Emmy for best Directing in an animated series), Time Squad, and Futurama.
John Sumner - Production Designer
John is an award winning Production Designer / Art Director at Stoopid Buddy Stoodios. He's known for his work on Spy vs Spy for MAD, Dinosaur Office, Friendship All-Stars of Friendship, The Baltimore Orioles, Pillow Fight, and WWE Slam City.
Becky van Cleve - Costume Designer
Becky is a Costume Designer for both stop-motion animation and live action. She is the Head of the Costume Department for Stoopid Buddy Stoodios on such shows as the Emmy Award winning Robot Chicken and L Studio's Friendship Allstars of Friendship. She has also designed costumes for the short films "Losing Ferguson" and "How to be a Female Director." She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Her full portfolio can be seen at www.beckyvancleve.com.
Ron Cole - Puppet Fabricator
Ron has been in the business of art creation and special effects for over 25 years. As an 'old school' effects artist, his ability range from the 2 dimensional art and design, through the fabrication of models and puppet props as well a the animated and puppeteered performances of them. He has worked on a wide range of types of productions, from the 'Monsters' TV series from Laurel Entertainment to Steven Spielberg's 'Back to the Future - The Ride. His feature film works range from live action and stop motion creature effects in the independent film 'Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor' and the Eddie Murphy film 'Boomerang' to the fabrication of Ms Piggy's body guards in the Henson production of 'Muppets Treasure Island'. Currently Mr Cole's primary focus is in his career long love of stop motion animation and more specifically realistic stop motion animated special effects. See more of his work at www.roncoleart.com.
For a highly art-directed project like this, time and materials are our greatest expense. Every little prop must be individually designed and handcrafted whether it’s on camera for a second or several minutes. Added to this is the challenge of creating a hybrid stop-motion/live-action project which requires two completely different production pipelines that must be in perfect sync with each other. We’ve already raised one fifth of the money we need. This is your opportunity to join the Oats team and help us raise the rest!
40% of the funds will be used to hire our live-action and miniature crew. While everyone will be working at a favor rate (a small fraction of their usual professional salary), being able to pay them a little something will ensure that they can take time away from their busy careers in television and feature films to help bring this passion project to life. Believe it or not, a professional stop-motion project can cost over $30,000 a minute! Even a single hand-crafted puppet like the ones you see in Paranorman can cost as much as $6,000 when you account for the hours involved in making it. We plan to produce Steel Cut Oats for substantially less because my colleagues are passionate about the project and willing to volunteer their time and energy to help make it happen. 25% will go to materials and equipment. 10% will go to locations. 15% will go to food for the cast and crew, permits, insurance, and other production expenses. 10% will go to Kickstarter fees and reward fulfillment.
Risks and challenges
Our team is the best of the best, each a professional at the top of his/her field. I’ve personally worked with all of these folks on numerous occasions and can vouch for their dedication. We always make every effort to meet deadlines but sometimes delays happen, including other jobs. Reaching our fundraising goal will help ensure that our crew can prioritize this project over other work that might come along.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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