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Inspired by the work of Tarantino & Scorsese, Denver author Josh Gaines makes his directorial debut with this off-kilter short film.
Inspired by the work of Tarantino & Scorsese, Denver author Josh Gaines makes his directorial debut with this off-kilter short film.
73 backers pledged $5,822 to help bring this project to life.

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"Cordial Kill" - a dark comedy crime film by Doctor Gaines

$5,822

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The Background:

Cordial Kill began its life as a short story of mine (Josh / Doctor Gaines / the Director) that I began writing in Summer 2015. It was/is the first chapter of a larger crime novel that takes place in 1982 Los Angeles called Blacktop City. While it is a first chapter, it stands alone as its own self-contained story, but hints at the deeper, darker, and more zany world in which it takes place.

Contrary to my previous writing, Cordial Kill was inspired more-so by movies than by works of written fiction. I can't deny that it draws heavily from the work of Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese (among others). I have always admired these filmmakers' sensibilities and their talents for blending cinematic art with playful humor; for melding dark settings and dangerous characters with quirky scenarios and jarring events that come from out of left field. With Cordial Kill, I'm setting out to tell a similar kind of off-kilter crime story that borrows its tone from movies like Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, The French ConnectionThe Departed, and Reservoir Dogs.

While Cordial Kill is technically a crime film, it is an unconventional one that embraces a certain level of quirkiness and absurd humor. And, as with any story I set out to tell, I want to give people a sense of surprise and delight. I want to tell stories that feel initially familiar but ultimately go into unexpected territory.

Now, not only am I getting to make Cordial Kill into the film that I've always envisioned that it could be, I've also been given the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented people from the film industry who are lending their skills to this project in order to make it as vibrant and beautiful as possible.

The Plot:

While I can't reveal too much in this regard for sake of keeping a few surprises up my sleeve, suffice it to say that Cordial Kill is about two low-ranking mob men, Jermaine Ross and Barry Henson, who have been tasked with the job of offing someone who wronged their boss one too many times. In the meantime, we spend the majority of the movie's run-time simply "hanging out" with Jermaine (a disgruntled 40-something of few words who has been at his job for too long) and Barry (a jovial but overbearing chatterbox with an affinity for film trivia) as they drive around the city, biding their time in Paddy-Jack's Irish Pub (in which Barry acts out an outlandish and colorful story about the night of his 21st birthday), and finally accomplishing the grim task at hand. Jermaine and Barry are quirky, inconsistent individuals, and they're completely incompetent criminals.

I mentioned above that my short story took place in 1980's Los Angeles. For the film, I've adapted it to Denver in what is more or less present day. So, Cordial Kill is not a period piece per se, but our aim is to give it the look and feel of having taken place somewhere around the late 80's/early 90's. Everything around the edges will seem just slightly out of date--on purpose--to give it the look and feel of the great classic crime films.

Also, it's worth noting that this is not a film that will follow a conventional pace or plot, and is ultimately more about spending time with these characters than it is about telling a three-act story that will be tied up with a neat bow by the end. But, I can assure you that it will be funny, it'll be weird, it'll go to some unexpected places, and it'll even be a little bit heartbreaking. I am more excited about Cordial Kill than any other story I have ever gotten the opportunity to tell!

The Soundtrack:

Most of us know how music can make or break a film, and it is an essential factor in establishing the tone of a movie. So many of my favorite films use music poignantly, and songs are often one of the strongest memory cues for me in recalling particular scenes.

While writing Cordial Kill, I included references to very specific tracks by artists of the 1970's and 80's for particular moments in the story. I have a great love for the music of this era and its inclusion in Cordial Kill would have been a perfect addition, except that to license songs by the likes of Alan Parsons Project, Kool & The Gang, or Little River Band would be tens of thousands of dollars, even for a little movie like mine.

So instead, we came up with something even better.

Andy Othling, my friend of over ten years and the genius behind Lowercase Noises, has agreed to compose an original soundtrack for Cordial Kill, mimicking the style and sound of the artists mentioned above (and many more). If you're familiar with Andy's music, then you know that the writing and producing of this soundtrack is going to be breaking into some very new territory for him, stylistically, and I find that fantastically exciting. If you're not familiar with Andy's music, go lookup Lowercase Noises, then imagine the same person recreating a bunch of 70's and 80's pop rock hits. The soundtrack to Cordial Kill is going to be a work of art all its own, and a strong enough album to warrant many, many enjoyable listens, independently of the film.

One of the Director's hand-drawn storyboards (also one of our Tier Rewards!)
One of the Director's hand-drawn storyboards (also one of our Tier Rewards!)

The Budget:

So, what exactly is the money for this project going towards and how did we come up with this amount?

  • I will just say upfront that it is our aim to make this movie as cheaply as possible while still maintaining a high level of professionalism and quality. The end goal is to submit the film to festivals because we firmly believe that this story is strong enough not only to get in, but to win awards. With so many other independent filmmakers in the world submitting their films, ours must be of the highest quality so that it stands out against the crowd.
  • This amount was decided upon by myself and Trevr Merchant, our director of photography, who has years of experience in the film industry and has worked on dozens of projects of this scale. While more money would always be welcome (and will be put to good use if we raise it), we believe this is a reasonable amount with which to make this film.
  • The money we raise will be going towards: paying our actors appropriate day-rates, paying certain members of the crew, feeding all of our cast and crew on shooting days, renting equipment (if need be), compensating the businesses/locations at which we'll be shooting (for example, one scene will involve renting out a bar for a day), hiring a professional editor to cut the film together once it is completed, buying props and costumes, buying portable hard-drives on which to store the Terabytes of digital video footage we'll create, and any of the other numerous expenses that can come up during production.
  • Please understand, most of our crew is giving us their time and talent voluntarily, and much of the equipment and cameras we will be using will also be made available to us at no charge. If we were to hire everyone needed and rent equipment conventionally, a film of this size could ordinarily cost upwards of $12,000 to make; we're gonna do it for less than half that amount. So, we want to show our gratitude to our cast and crew for giving their time by taking care of them the best that we can, and we want to show our gratitude to you, the Backers, by providing you with numerous tier reward options, many of which are handmade, exclusive, very limited, and will never be available again after this campaign.
Poster concept art (in process; may not reflect final poster image)
Poster concept art (in process; may not reflect final poster image)

The Timeline:

If this project is successfully funded, the goal is to shoot the film over a period of three days in late August. This is a short film, so the length of the final movie will probably be between 15-25 minutes. Post-production may take a significant amount of time, but our aim is to have the film completely cut together and festival-ready by December 2016. Tier rewards will be shipped out or electronically delivered as soon as they are made available, though they may not be delivered until as late as the end of this year. Specific updates will be made by me throughout the production process.

Because of rules and limitations surrounding many of the film festivals in which the film will be entered, the movie may not be able to be widely seen/publicly released on websites such as Vimeo and YouTube until well after its completion. However, it will be released early--privately--to any backers of this project who chose a tier reward in which a digital copy of the film is included.

*While the soundtrack may be made available at a later date on services like iTunes or Spotify, it will be available early and exclusively to Backers of this Kickstarter for a period of time.

HOW THIS WORKS - An explanation for those unfamiliar with Kickstarter:

  • Kickstarter hosts creative projects of all types from around the world for individuals who have an idea to make something (movie/book/album/product) but need additional funding and help from friends, family, and fans to get it off the ground.
  • If you would like to help fund this product, choose one of the tier rewards on the right side menu. By doing this, you will contribute funds in whatever specified dollar amount to add to this project's total goal. You will also receive the reward(s) listed for that tier within the time frame given.
  • Kickstarter will ask you to provide your contact info and a payment method when you choose to support this project, HOWEVER, your credit card will NOT be charged UNTIL the project is complete and ONLY if the project meets 100% of its goal. Kickstarter is an ALL OR NOTHING fundraising model. If we surpass our goal, we get ALL of the money contributed (including any amount over and above the goal), but if we are even one dollar short by the time the campaign ends, we receive NONE of the money raised and the project is deemed Unsuccessful.

Photo credit for main image of Denver Skyline: Flickr user © Larry Johnson, Creative Commons License. Photo was edited and graphics and text were added.

Music in video: © artist Jahzzar under Creative Commons Attribution license. Songs used "Bones," "Wizard," "The Last Ones," "Fuzz," "Haunted," "Shine."

Risks and challenges

The greatest challenge will simply be shooting and editing the film. We already have crew attached, we already have equipment lined up to use, and we're seeking out our actors as we speak. If we raise this money, we will make this movie.

While we don't foresee any particular risks or hindrances in the completion of this project other than the normal hiccups that occur in making a movie, there is always the chance of unavoidable life things happening. God forbid, if myself, my family, any of the cast or crew or their families were to be injured, became ill, or ran into some other sort of life-altering circumstance, it could delay the project--but that is not to say it would put an end to the project. Barring death or the apocalypse, we will still be able to finish the movie even if a cast or crew member had to pull out. Thankfully, with only three planned days of shooting, our margin is fairly slim for something going catastrophically wrong.

If you have any particular concerns or questions, please feel free to post them in the comments or message me directly and I'll do my best to provide an answer.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    Thank you!

    Even 5 bucks can help make this movie happen! You will be included in Backer-only updates on the project as well as livestream Q&A's (if any) with the director.

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    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    The Original Soundtrack

    An advance copy digital download of the original soundtrack composed by Andy Othling (Lowercase Noises). Will be delivered exclusively to Backers BEFORE the film is released!*

    Includes:
    • CORDIAL KILL original soundtrack by Andy Othling (MP3)
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 15 or more About US$ 15

    The Film

    An EARLY RELEASE high-resolution digital copy of CORDIAL KILL delivered electronically to you! Your own digital copy of the film in HD (filmed in 4k), available early and exclusively to Backers months prior to YouTube/Vimeo/wide release.

    Includes:
    • CORDIAL KILL digital copy of film (HD, shot in 4K)
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    The Film + The Soundtrack

    An advance copy of both the film CORDIAL KILL and a download of the original soundtrack composed by Andy Othling (Lowercase Noises).

    Includes:
    • CORDIAL KILL digital copy of film (HD, shot in 4K)
    • CORDIAL KILL original soundtrack by Andy Othling (MP3)
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 35 or more About US$ 35

    The Short Story

    CORDIAL KILL is only the first chapter of a larger story by Doctor Gaines called BLACKTOP CITY.

    At this tier level, you'll get a digital copy of the full 25-page short story from which the film was adapted BEFORE the novel comes out (plus, the story is longer, more detailed, and substantially different!). You'll also get the film and soundtrack.

    Includes:
    • CORDIAL KILL the original short story (PDF)
    • CORDIAL KILL digital copy of film (HD, shot in 4K)
    • CORDIAL KILL original soundtrack by Andy Othling (MP3)
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    The Doctor Gaines Grab-bag

    You'll get the entire back catalog of just about every creative endeavor Doctor Gaines has ever pursued: the books, the albums, and every piece of merch still available, PLUS you'll still get the film, the soundtrack, and the short story. **T-shirts limited to what sizes/quantities are still available**

    Includes:
    • CORDIAL KILL digital copy of film (HD, shot in 4K)
    • CORDIAL KILL original soundtrack by Andy Othling (MP3)
    • CORDIAL KILL the original short story (PDF)
    • Both Abraham the Poor albums (Physical CD's), a poster, stickers
    • Abraham the Poor shirt (limited to XS, S, M, L, XL)
    • THE SHOT (Novel in Paperback)
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    The Screenprinted Poster

    A VERY LIMITED poster featuring original CORDIAL KILL artwork by Doctor Gaines, screen-printed by hand, individually numbered, and signed by the director. You'll also get the film, soundtrack, story.

    Includes:
    • Screenprinted, Numbered, Signed Poster
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The Script

    You'll get a complete physical copy of the shooting script actually used on set, including the director's annotations, comments, and drawings (if any). This could be any one of the various drafts or revised copies used throughout pre-production/shooting. Signed by the director. You'll also get the film, soundtrack, and short story.

    Includes:
    • CORDIAL KILL digital copy of film (HD, shot in 4K)
    • CORDIAL KILL original soundtrack by Andy Othling (MP3)
    • CORDIAL KILL the original short story (PDF)
    • Original Copy of the Shooting Script
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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    The Prop

    You'll get an actual prop or set piece used during shooting. This could be absolutely anything (director's choice), but it will be something COOL that was integral to the film/set. You'll also get the film, soundtrack, story.

    Includes:
    • Prop from CORDIAL KILL
    • CORDIAL KILL digital copy of film (HD, shot in 4K)
    • CORDIAL KILL original soundtrack by Andy Othling (MP3)
    • CORDIAL KILL the original short story (PDF)
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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    The Storyboard

    You'll get one sheet from the director's original HAND-DRAWN storyboards (each sheet could contain *up to* 9 scene drawings). These drawings feature the first images of the director's vision coming to life! Pages will be signed by director. You'll also get the film, soundtrack, story.

    Includes:
    • Original Hand-drawn Storyboard Sheet
    • CORDIAL KILL digital copy of film (HD, shot in 4K)
    • CORDIAL KILL original soundtrack by Andy Othling (MP3)
    • CORDIAL KILL the original short story (PDF)
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    The Origin Material

    Extremely limited!! You'll get one handwritten page snipped out of the director's own personal notebook that features the original prose and dialogue that became CORDIAL KILL. Not only does Doctor have to commit libricide by cutting up one of his journals, but these segments are near and dear to his heart, as they are the earliest documentation of his creative process in developing this story. Pages will be signed by the director and will include a brief personal note. You'll also get the film, soundtrack, and story.

    Includes:
    • Page from the Director's Notebook
    • CORDIAL KILL digital copy of film (HD, shot in 4K)
    • CORDIAL KILL original soundtrack by Andy Othling (MP3)
    • CORDIAL KILL the original short story (PDF)
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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Original Piece of Art

    Limited and exclusive! You'll get a signed original piece of artwork by Doctor Gaines. **This piece of artwork may not necessarily be CORDIAL KILL related** It could be any size, shape, medium, or style. But it'll be cool, unique, and every person will get something completely different (director's choice). You'll also get the film, soundtrack, story.

    Includes:
    • Original Piece of Artwork by Doctor Gaines
    • CORDIAL KILL digital copy of film (HD, shot in 4K)
    • CORDIAL KILL original soundtrack by Andy Othling (MP3)
    • CORDIAL KILL the original short story (PDF)
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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 400 or more About US$ 400

    Be an Extra!

    You'll get to be in the film for exactly one day of shooting and you'll get your name in the credits. You won't have any lines but will be visible on screen. You'll automatically be invited to the wrap party/screening.

    (PLEASE NOTE: you must live in Denver, CO, or be willing to travel there on your own dime, and shooting dates cannot be altered due to your availability). You'll also get the film, soundtrack, story.

    Includes:
    • CORDIAL KILL digital copy of film (HD, shot in 4K)
    • CORDIAL KILL original soundtrack by Andy Othling (MP3)
    • CORDIAL KILL the original short story (PDF)
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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    You will get the official title of Executive Producer, will have your name prominently featured in the end credits, and will have the opportunity to hang out for one day on set AND/OR be an extra in the film if you wish. You'll be automatically invited to the wrap party/screening when the film is completed. You'll get to go to dinner with the director or have a one-on-one Skype conversation with him.

    (PLEASE NOTE: you must live in Denver, CO or be willing to travel there on your own dime for the in-person benefits, and shooting/premiere dates cannot be altered due to your availability). And of course, you get the film, soundtrack, story.

    Includes:
    • Title of Executive Producer & all benefits for this tier
    • CORDIAL KILL digital copy of film (HD, shot in 4K)
    • CORDIAL KILL original soundtrack by Andy Othling (MP3)
    • CORDIAL KILL the original short story (PDF)
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    Reward no longer available 3 backers
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Funding period

- (15 days)