A satirical, experimental comedy set in 1893 follows a group of tourists searching for the most perfect hot springs in Colorado, and finding only ruins. Sublime desert landscapes, hapless intellectual conversations, and elaborate sensual bathing rituals clash in this subversive, joyfully anachronistic “Spa Western.”
Who Are We?
The two of us (Lev and Whit) have been making films together for the last twelve years. We started off making these snotty low-fi 16mm ‘satires’ with friends and...we’re pretty much gonna keep doing that forever. So far our two most major projects have been Blondes in the Jungle (2009) and L for Leisure (2015). Both films are period pieces that mix straightforward narrative and jokes with experimental techniques that de-naturalize and recontextualize the stories. And both, btw, are free for rental during this campaign.
PROMO CODE: twoplains-ks
What are we making?
Since before Blondes and L4L, we’ve been holding onto the idea of doing a Western set in the 1890s, and calling it Two Plains & a Fancy. That title comes from this book The Executive Look, and it is actually good advice—if you’re gonna wear a funky tie, you should pair it with an understated jacket and shirt. Anyways, along with our friend Sarah (she played the wrestling girl in L4L), we developed our ideas into a story which is at the same time grounded in the specific environmental/social history of the Southwest, and weird.
Two Plains & a Fancy is set in remote Colorado in 1893, and follows three tourists: a Dandy watercolorist, a Mystic/Reformed-Confidence woman, and a Lady Geologist from France, who are looking for the perfect geothermal hot spring spa. What they don’t know—and what never really becomes clear to them—is that the “Denver Panic” just happened, an economic disaster that devastated the silver mining industry. Nearly overnight, entire towns emptied out, and fancy spas and hotels were abandoned. This creates the disjointed luxury/apocalypse setting of the film.
The tourists trek through the plains, deserts and mountains, and it’s somewhere between a classic Western travelogue and a really epic day at the mall. They have encounters with purported time travelers, underemployed cowboys, a native teen, and ghost whores. Meanwhile, their horses seem to be hiding a secret. They reach the limits of their respective knowledges, and blissfully cross them, until a geothermal event literally undermines them all.
What’s the plan?
We’ll be shooting this September, on location, for three weeks. As with our other films, the crew will be tiny (like the two of us plus a sound person), and we’ll be relying on existing locations and available light, so the budget is relatively small for a feature. Including moneys from the French film company Shellac, and contributions of cash and in-kind that we’ve been collecting over the last year, we have about half the funds we’ll need to get through production. By paying for stuff like travel costs, film stock, and actors’ salaries (yep), this Kickstarter will allow us to reach our goal.
Cast and Crew
A great collection of friends, and friends of friends. Some you’d know from our other films.
The original soundtrack will be by John Atkinson and Talya Cooper. John, of the noise/dance band Aa (Big A little a), did the soundtracks of Blondes in the Jungle and L for Leisure (and the Kickstarter vid). Talya is of the punk bands Household and In School.
And joining us as co-producer will be Annalise Lockhart, of THE FITS and Tayarisha Poe’s upcoming Selah, and the Spades.
Back to us
Our films have played some great festivals and venues
And L for Leisure got a lot of press. We were among Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of 2014, got a mention in ArtForum’s year-end top tens, New Yorker’s Richard Brody compared the film (favorably) to Pitch Perfect II, and The L called it “the movie of the century so far.”
The level of positive critical and audience response we’ve been receiving has been unexpected and awesome. We’re more confident than ever that there is a place for our kinds of filmmaking—with antiprofessional aesthetics, no name actors, and experimental attitudes.
We’re planning to complete Two Plains & a Fancy in 2017 and we’re eager to see how far we can take it in terms of wider release. If you’re interested in supporting our kind of work, this is the stage where your help would make the biggest impact.
Risks and challenges
Even with our experience, there is still something scary about launching a whole new feature film production. We’ll have to coordinate cast, crew, costumes, equipment, locations, and now for the first time, horses. And besides the practical, there are aesthetic risks. It’s always a challenge for us to find the right blend of jokes, story and experimentation, so that all the levels of irony deepen the film, instead of just making it seem like a joke.
But to be real, the biggest challenge is that even with this Kickstarter funding, we won’t have the money to give the film the release and promo it deserves. The good news is that more sources of funding for that stuff will become available to us once we have a rough cut of the film.
That’s why we've launched this Kickstarter. With this execution-dependent project, now is the time we need most to rely on the faith and support of our audience that we’ll make a good movie. Besides the money, the fact of your support will make a huge difference in later fundraising stages.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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