About this project
Partly told from the perspective of a cow, "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely" is a narrative feature film about the sensual inner life of a woman, her father and the man they hire to work their farm.
Hi! My name is Josephine, and I make films that feature moments like this:
If you're wondering if this project will be good:
I try really hard for a very long time to make films that I think you would want to watch! (Please ask my lovely roommate Audrey, who knows how many 4-am's go by while I'm making my movies.)
Thankfully, a few other people think my films are worth seeing as well:
My last film, Butter on the Latch, was called "an utter exhilaration of cinematic imagination" by Richard Brody in the New Yorker and "a sexy wild romp you have to see to believe" by Eric Kohn in Indiewire. Filmmaker Magazine just named me one its 25 New Faces of Independent Film (the mag previously recognized up-and-comers such as Lena Dunham, Ryan Gosling, David Lowery and Hilary Swank). My first film "Bi The Way" explores the rise of bisexuality in America and did many of the things an indie movie is supposed to do, including sparking an enormous dialogue about female bisexuality in The New York Times and showing up in your recommended "Other Movies Brooklyn Folks Are Watching" list on Netflix.
So -- why do I like East of Eden and why did I make "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely"?
In Steinbeck’s East of Eden, the character of Kate is almost pure evil. She manipulates, terrorizes, and twists her way through people’s lives. A horrifying, sensual, powerful woman, Kate is by far the most fascinating character I’ve ever read. What makes her fascinating is the way every other character in the book chooses to love and forgive her – and what makes the book fascinating is the way those characters love and forgive themselves. This kind of unhinged love, hurt and forgiveness is the cornerstone of “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely.”
In the fall of 2011, East of Eden and Kate – along with an erratic, exciting, terrifying love life of my own – inspired me to explore a world where men are bad to women and women are bad to men… and what happens after that… “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely” emerged -- an intimate magical realist erotic thriller: simultaneously a horror film, a farm drama, a comedy, a sexual romp, and a deep character study. I had pulled the worms out of my guts, stuck them on the page and was going to let the frightening things on which they fed finally feel the air.
With this film, I have been groping at a truth – about how we can be bad, or we can be good, or we can both at the exact same time. With that truth, I am trying to build a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience that melds fantasy and reality in an erotically charged, darkly joyous experience.
And I need your help.
What You Are Funding
An edit of a film is an intricate process of refining an idea, attempting new things and discovering by failure – and is where a filmmaker flushes out the final vision for a project.
Thanks to editors Steven Schardt and David Barker, we are very close to locking picture on this movie, but we need more time to get it all the way there. Hence – this kickstarter!
The works of literature and film that I connect with are not just one genre or one thing. Like the characters they portray, they encompass a full range of emotion and experience. To fully round out this film's experience, we are launching into one final month of editing, a sound edit and mix and our color timing session. A luscious sound and color scheme and fine-tuned edit will take the film from its current rough cut phase into its final cut -- and will evoke the fullness of this project’s intimate, haunting, sensual world.
In our collaboration, editor David Barker (AFRAID OF EVERYTHING, HERE) constantly asks me to be more creative, more emotional, more true. To David, movies are manifestations of the people who make them, and when we realize ourselves, we realize our films. Your contribution would help us realize this teeming vision and would enable talented collaborators – our composer, sound editor, colorist, and editor -- to help make that happen.
The Art You Get in Return
Director of Photography Ashley Connor and I have worked together on two previous projects – short film “Me The Terrible” and the recent doc-fiction hybrid “Butter on the Latch." As two female filmmakers, we allow our intuition to guide our visual choices, and the result here is an unusually nightmarish, intimate set of images. The poetic script for “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely” allowed us to be – weird (Ashley was a cow sometimes) – and so, we get to share those weirdnesses with you!
We are offering stills from the film as postcards (a $15 reward), posters ($75 reward) and framed, signed photographic prints ($350 reward).
In addition, our rewards include a voice lesson with lead actress Sophie Traub, an immersive performance experience with Josephine Decker (who also makes performance art), your own personalized 2-minute film, a signed shooting script, a copy of the film, a watery, evocative illustrated poster by artist Winnie Truong, a lunch with actor Robert Longstreet, original limited-edition posters from Joe Swanberg's Art History and Uncle Kent (Joe and Josephine's first collaborations), a single-card credit, and many others.
How A Small Town in Kentucky Makes a Movie...
The storytelling of a film begins with its script, is flushed out in its shoot and is finalized in its editing process. Throughout these phases, I was blessed with incredible input, collaboration, work and support from many, many people. I wrote the very personal, intimate script for this film during an artist residency at The School of Making Thinking and then shared rough drafts with writers Todd Rohal, Onur Tukel and Sharon Mashihi. With their feedback, guidance, and a few hilarious new lines from Onur, I launched into production.
Thanks to production designer Sarah O’Brien and her entire family (Lori, David, Morgan, Samson, Tommy), we flew our tiny crew from all parts of the US to Lori and David’s farm in Kentucky to begin our shoot. With producer Laura Klein, editor Steven Schardt, art director Megan Billman, costume designer Wilberth Gonzalez, DP Ashley Connor, sound mixer Jesse McAlpin, UPM Adam Donaghey, AE Lucy Munger, co-producer Rachel Wolther, boom op Joe Campbell, fight choreographer Jason Benjamin, special effects make-up artist Stacey Lockhart, AC’s Zia Anger and Alyssa Blumstein, set chef Claire Epstein and an entire community (Lori and David’s logging man Jim did our voiceover; their neighbor Dave let us film with his “pet” cow Butterscotch; Mark across the street loaned us his horses), we built the world of the film – from casting locals to workshopping scenes in creekbeds to building a wall of hats in the middle of Morgan and Samson’s house.
Our incredible leads – filmmaker Joe Swanberg, Robert Longstreet and Sophie Traub – along with actors Kristin Slaysman, Matt Orme, Geoff Marslett, Shelley Delaney, Brooklyn and Raleigh Shuck, Erica McClure, and Bennett Alderdice – brought a spacious terror, unease, bliss and presence to their performances to give the film its life. And now, with the support of co-producer Braden King and editor David Barker, the film is finishing its enormous journey.
This project came alive through deep collaboration with not just a group of artists and filmmakers but through collaboration with an entire community.
I hope I will get to collaborate with you as well to realize this film!
Risks and challenges
Films are always a challenge to complete, especially features. The process of finishing a film means watching the film, rewatching it, rewatching it, watching the rewatch... and slowly going insane. But having finished two other feature films ("Bi The Way" and "Butter on the Latch") already, I know what the finishing process takes and am excited and ready for the time-consuming, detail-oriented process of final post. Having the opportunity to work with really skilled collaborators in sound and color will make that finishing process a much more fun and engaging one.
Hiring the wrong person to help with finishing (a very expensive process) can mean being overcharged for underwhelming results. Luckily, I have already worked with a sound editor I love and have a strong community of filmmaker friends recommending color correctionists, so I will make sure to do my homework beforehand to get the best, most committed people on board.
Also: rewards! I've heard through the grapevine that keeping up with kickstarter rewards can become a rather full-time job! I will have to keep time in my schedule to stay on top of not only finishing this film but also following up with the rewards that have been promised. I can't wait to share them with you!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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