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An adaptation of Lovecraft's short story, in which a man is tormented by nightmarish visions and chased by faceless flying creatures.
74 backers pledged CA$ 7,489 to help bring this project to life.

About

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CA$ 7,489

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Nightgaunts - A Lovecraftian short creature film

We're adapting of one of HP Lovecraft’s classic tales of terror into an surreal short film, combining live action with motion capture and stop motion animation.

 The Story

In the year 1920, a young writer is tormented nightly by apocalyptic visions of a strange ruined city, where the last remnants of humanity are hunted down by ravenous eldritch creatures! There is no place to hide, for the great Old Ones have returned, and they have reclaimed the world as their own.

The Origin of the Nightgaunts

When it comes to the work of writer H.P. Lovecraft's, the thing that most people remember are the creatures that he invented. Undying alien gods, and shapeshifiting horrors beyond man's feeble comprehension, like the great Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, and the Demon Sultan Azathoth.

But these were not the first creatures that Lovecraft saw in his imagination. For years when he was younger, Lovecraft writes that he was terrified by a vivid reoccurring nightmare. In these dreams, Lovecraft found himself trapped in a strange city, with bizarre angles and alien geometry. And then, swarming out of the darkness he would see them. A race of faceless flying creatures. Horned, black, and slender, with membranous bat-like wings. Every night he would run from these creatures, and every night they would chase him down. They would pull him screaming into the air in their talons, and carry him over a hellish world teeming with shapeless monstrosities. This early experience would leave a lasting impression Lovecraft in his work as a writer, with these terrifying images creeping into his work time and time again. After 30 years, he write down his nightmare, turning it into a short piece called 'Nightgaunts'.

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Adaptation

Creating any adaptation comes with challenges, but it is especially difficult when it comes to Lovecraft's writing. The power of his work isn't in the events that happen in the plot, but its in the way he describes things. The deeply unsettling mood that he manages to create. Cyclopic images and glimpses of cosmic cycles that utterly dwarf his characters and the reader, to create an overwhelming sensation of helplessness. The constant looming threat fearfully mentioned throughout the mythos he created is the inescapable prophecy that one day mankind will be cleared off the planet when the Old Ones awaken to reclaim the world as their own. 

In our film, we want to bring Lovecraft's apocalyptic vision to life. To show one dreamer's terrifying glimpse of a future world, where behemoth alien Gods tower over the destroyed cities of man. Where the last humans are reduced to hiding like our mammal ancestors during the Age of tyrant lizards. Hiding in the ruins, like insects under a stone, and fleeing from hungry swarms of Nightgaunts that pick off the last survivors.

We aim to capture this oppressive atmosphere through our use of surreal visuals and experimental film making techniques. For inspiration, we've been looking at German expressionist artwork and films of the 1920's. In particular we are drawn to the work FW Murnau, creator of Nosferatu (1922)  and Faust (1926). 

Nosferatu (1922) and Faust (1926)
Nosferatu (1922) and Faust (1926)

We want to emulate his expert use of bold angle, dark shadows, and bold mythical poetic images. By combing live action, photomontage, and both 3d and stop motion animation together, we aim to create a film that feels like a lucid nightmare.

Here is an early test clip that we put together last month, show some of the techniques we will be experimenting with.

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The Creature Design

One of the main attractions of our project is the chance to bring some of Lovecraft's classic creatures to life in a new way.

Now the Nightgaunts have been around a long time. For nearly 90 years, sci fi illustrators have been drawing them, and for the most part they've come to have a fairly accepted standardized look. They are depicted as humanoid demons with bat wings on their back. 

 

Original Nightgaunt illustration
Original Nightgaunt illustration

But for our film, we want to reimagine them as if they were creatures that evolved on another world. Living alien organisms, with adaptations that help them survive in their environment. To stay true to the source material, there are key features that we needed keep: they are horned, slender, with a pitchfork tail, grasping claws, bat like wings, and have no face. Next we looked at nature for answers.

Nightgaunt animal references
Nightgaunt animal references

For example, the creature that has no face but still need a way to eat prey. So like a star fish, we've imagined it has evolved a mouth in its chest, and can extend it's stomach directly onto prey. Then instead of a tail, we've given it a long forked tongue that extends out of the chest mouth to taste its surroundings. If it has no eyes, it must have developed a form of echolocation. So we've shaped the horns to act like bat's ears, to channel sound into the giant ear drum that takes up the Nightgaunt's entire face. 

Nightgaunt Concept Drawings
Nightgaunt Concept Drawings

 

Nightgaunt concept model turnaround
Nightgaunt concept model turnaround

 Nightgaunt with first pass of texturing.

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Motion Capture

Like in our last film, 'The Jovian Project', we are excited to again be using Motion Capture technology in part to help bring the film’s creatures to life. Although working with Mocap may have a complicated pipeline, it has huge advantages for us as performers and storytellers. There is so much that is gained from having a human physically perform on a set. It allows us the chance to become the creatures, and to make discoveries we never would have thought of if we were just sitting behind a computer. Using stilts, our mocap performers are forced to rethink how to move and interact with their environment with pteranodon like elongated arms and folded wings. We also get to explore the behavior of a blind creature. We've done shots where the actors are blind folded or have closed eyes, forcing them to navigate by the sound and by touch. In the end, we hope to create creatures that are believable as real animals, not just monsters. 

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Stop Motion 

Kat Ruiz, Stop Motion Animator
Kat Ruiz, Stop Motion Animator

While our team embraces new technology, we are also very passionate about keeping classical styles of animation alive, such as stop motion. As animators, the work of legend Ray Harryhausen remains one of our biggest inspirations. No matter how good the computer rendering is, sometimes there is no way to replace the real thing. So for our film, we want to pay homage to the classics and find creative ways to incorporate stop motion into creating our environments and the Creatures FX. Such as in bringing to life the writhing lakes of shape-shifting Shoggoths. The downside is that using stop motion is largely more expensive and time consuming for our production than it would to be to use 3D Animation. Therefore the extent to which we will be able to use Stopmotion in our film will have to be determined primarily by the amount of backing our project receives.

About us

For the core members of our team, this will be our second film project together. Our first animated short film 'The Jovian Project', loosely based on the short story 'From Beyond', was an homage to the classic B movies of the atomic age and the horror movies of Vincent Price. Our film has met with success in festivals around the world, winning the Berlin Scifi Film Festival's award for Best Animation.

Jovian Project Poster
Jovian Project Poster

Here's a behind the scenes look at the making of 'The Jovian Project'.

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Given our the strong reception we've received from science fiction and horror fans out there, we've decided to rejoin forces to bring you an even more ambitious film project!

Cast:

Evan Hall - The Dreamer

In our surreal film, Evan Hall will be playing the leading role as the Dreamer, a young writer whose reoccurring apocalyptic nightmares have pushed him verge of nervous breakdown. This character is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's own descriptions of himself in his youth, and Lovecraft's reoccurring fictional character Randolph Carter.  

At Victoria School of the Performing Arts, Evan received the Dean Storie Award for his work in Physical Theatre. This inspiration led him to Vancouver's Seacoast Studio, led by Canadian theatre alumnis Scott Swan to learn Naturalistic, Shakespearian, and Film & Television Acting. He has since performed in at least 100 different Film Productions. He has also performed throughout BC with Seacoast's long-running show, Fractured, an ensemble play about the growing consistency of school shootings in North America, where he received the Greater Vancouver Zone Theatre Festival's award for Best Supporting Actor. 

Evan and Noah have worked together on Noah Van Buhren's award-winning production "The Jovian Project" where they both used motion capture. This time Evan is on the other side of the coin, working on camera against the mo-cap characters, and is enjoying the new challenge.

CREW:

3D Animation Team

Noah Van Buhren- Director, Concept Artist, Animator, Mocap Creature Performer

Eveline Roza- 3d Character animation

Eduardo Alonso - 3D Animator/ Mocap Assistant  

Cosmo Chen- VFX artist / 3D Renderer

Motion Capture Team

Noah Van Buhren - Runt Nightgaunt

Jocelyn Collin - Alpha Nightgaunt

Jonathan Collin - Motion Capture Assistant

Rick Overington - Motion Capture Technician

Stop Motion Team

Chantal Beaulne - Stop Motion animation

Kat Ruiz- Stop Motion Animation

Jane Lê- Stop motion Assistant

Film Department

Somit Sharma- Camera man

Teejita Gupta- Makeup / Practical FX

Thaddeus Walker - Production Assistant / illustrator

Budget

To complete the film by early this summer, we need to raise a minimum of $2,500 to make this movie.  This money will be used to support the animation team, as well as going towards covering the expenses of filming the live action content including: practical gore FX, gear rental, insurance, props, craft services, etc.  

Nightgaunts Budget
Nightgaunts Budget

That's really just a skeleton budget though, so we've created stretch goals to put some flesh on it. All additional money raised will support costs such as additional visual effects such as stop motion animtaion, better practical effects and set building.

Stretch Goal #1: $5 000

In our film, we want to create a nightmarish landscape teeming with the eldritch Gods and monsters from Lovecraft's mythos. The more resources we we receive, the more creatures we can bring to life using both 3D and classic stop motion animation.

Stretch Goal # 2: $10,000

Ia Ia! Help us reach this goal, and we shall attempt the insane, the unthinkable! We will attempt to raise our master, the Great CTHULHU Himself from His sunken prison beneath the sea!

We will also be able to spend More on Practical Effects! More on Makeup and Prosthetics! More on Set building! And More Locations, to bring this thing to life! 

In addition to this, we know that our Cast and Crew deserve to be rewarded for the time and effort they've put into this passion project. The more support you give us, the more we will be able to make sure that all of our Team and additional volunteers, not just the film's director, are able to financially benefit from their hard work and dedication.  

The Rewards

Help us to break down the thin walls of reality and let this horrible vision come bursting forth to blot out the sky with their black wings.

Become one of us, and join the Essoteric Order of the Black Wing, Servants and Heralds of the Nightgaunts. Pledge your support to our dark masters and receive their generous rewards. Before it is too late...

Nightgaunt Ceremonial Pins
Nightgaunt Ceremonial Pins

 

Nightgaunt Cultist T Shirt
Nightgaunt Cultist T Shirt

Delivery Date  

Our production has already started filming, mocap recording, and animating. With your help, it is our aim to have the film finished by this summer! 

Risks and challenges

This film is a passion project, being made by fans of Lovecraft's work. There are few films out there that successfully capture the true feeling and atmosphere his stories convey. We want to make the kind of film that we've been waiting to see.

I am confident in the team that we have recruited. Most of us met through Emily Carr University. Some of us have spent 4 years together and we've learned a great deal from helping out with each other's films projects. Now what we want is an opportunity to test out our skills, and see how far we can push our limits.

The last three months have been spent in pre-production. That time has been spent developing concept art and creature models, drawing story-boards, casting actors, costuming, and location scouting. And so far, we have been financing the cost of costumes, props, and equipment by ourselves. But to fully achieve the vision we have in mind, it is going to take more time and resources.
For example, 3D animation is less expensive but we would like to incorporate traditional techniques such as stop motion animation and practical effects to add to the old school feel we want to recreate.
One way or another, we have started this project and we will see it through. All we are asking you for today is to help us make this short film something exceptional that satisfies all the fans of weird fiction out there who are craving more.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 1 or more About $0.75

    Messangers of the Black Wing

    Become a messenger of the End Times! Spread the word and be blessed when the Great Old Ones return!

    Includes:
    • You few will be spared, when the Gods of Chaos reclaim our world.
    • Social Media Thanks
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    Pledge CA$ 10 or more About $7

    Initiate of the Black Wing

    Prepare to be initiated into the Cult of the Black Wing, Servants of the Nightgaunts.

    Receive your very own digital copy of the Nightgaunt film and be witness Lovecraft's dark prophecy of things to come.

    Our donors will also each receive Social Media Thanks for their donation to our cause.

    Includes:
    • Digital Copy of final film
    • Social Media Thanks
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    Pledge CA$ 25 or more About $19

    Acolyte of the Black Wing

    As Acolyte, the hidden mysteries shall be revealed to you.

    You shall be granted a glimpse into the twisted minds behind the Nightgaunts Production. This includes exclusive access to Behind the scenes footage, updates, and a digital copy of the film's Concept Art and Storyboards.

    Includes:
    • Digital Copy of final film
    • Behind the Scenes Content
    • Concept Art
    • Social Media Thanks
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    10 backers
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    Pledge CA$ 35 or more About $26

    Scribe of the Black wing

    Scribes are the keepers of the ancient language of the Gods.

    All Scribes will receive one of three collectible Nightgaunt film Postcards, that each bear part of the forbidden R'lyehian incantations. Chant these incantations in sacred places and on mountain tops to hasten the return of the Old Ones!

    You will also receive one of three Ceremonial pins. Place them on your person, and the Elder Sign will safely protect you from the wrath of the vengeful Outer Gods.

    Includes:
    • Nightgaunts Postcard
    • Ceremonial Pin
    • Digital Copy of final film
    • Behind the Scenes Content
    • Concept Art
    • Social Media Thanks
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    Pledge CA$ 50 or more About $37

    Cultist Of the Black Wing

    Become a full Cultist of the Order, and fullfill your destiny!

    Recieve all three Nightgaunt Postcards, and all three ceremonial pins.
    Share them with your family and close friends, or jealously keep all the sacred texts and protections to yourself.

    Includes:
    • Nightgaunts Postcard
    • Ceremonial Pin
    • Digital Copy of final film
    • Behind the Scenes Content
    • Concept Art
    • Social Media Thanks
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    Pledge CA$ 100 or more About $75

    Oracle of the Black Wing

    As Oracle, your clairvoyant powers will allow your to see all things before they come to pass!

    And that includes being able to see the Nightgaunts completed film before anyone else can, on your very own Early Digital Copy.

    Oracles will also receive a signed copy of the Nightgaunts Film Poster, to adorn their sacred cave or chamber. This Poster's iconography may help guide meditation, or trigger downward spirals into madness. (Results may vary)

    Includes:
    • Early Digital Copy of the final film
    • Signed Nightgaunts Movie Poster
    • Nightgaunts Postcard
    • Ceremonial Pin
    • Behind the Scenes Content
    • Concept Art
    • Social Media Thanks
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    Pledge CA$ 150 or more About $112

    Priest of the Black Wing

    Only a Priest of the Order can posses the forbidden Idol of the Nightgaunts!

    Receive a 3D Printed Nightgaunt Idol! Perfect for placing atop your sacrificial altar or your computer desk. Wherever your chosen place of unhallowed work may me.

    Includes:
    • 3D Printed Nightgaunt Idol
    • Signed Nightgaunts Movie Poster
    • Early Digital Copy of the final film
    • Nightgaunts Postcard
    • Ceremonial Pin
    • Behind the Scenes Content
    • Concept Art
    • Social Media Thanks
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    Pledge CA$ 200 or more About $149

    High Priest of the Black Wing

    Attain the rank of High Priest, and witness the unholy transformation of your flesh and soul!

    Receive your own original Cultist Portrait. Send us your photograph, and we will create for you an artistic interpretation of what you will look like after you have been mutated into an eldritch horror.

    Includes:
    • Original Cultist Transformation Portrait
    • Early Digital Copy of the final film
    • 3D Printed Nightgaunt Idol
    • Signed Nightgaunts Movie Poster
    • Nightgaunts Postcard
    • Ceremonial Pin
    • Behind the Scenes Content
    • Concept Art
    • Social Media Thanks
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    Ships to Only certain countries
    1 backer
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    Pledge CA$ 500 or more About $374

    Prophet of the Black Wing

    As a divine Prophet of the Nightgaunts, you deserve to be seen arrayed in the most sacred cloth of the Order and adored by the throngs of your devoted cultists.

    Receive the Order's ceremonial vestments, the Nightgaunt Crew T shirt. Drape yourself in this fine apparel and enjoy the praise befitting one of your noble station.

    You shall also have your name commemorated as Producer Credit in the end credits.

    Prophets earn the eternal gratitude of the Nightgaunt Production team, and as a sign of our esteem, you shall receive a cast and crew photo signed by all of us.

    Includes:
    • Nightgaunts T Shirt
    • Signed 8x10 Cast and Crew Photo
    • Early Digital Copy of the final film
    • 3D Printed Nightgaunt Idol
    • Nightgaunts Postcard
    • Ceremonial Pin
    • Behind the Scenes Content
    • Concept Art
    • PRODUCER CREDIT
    • Social Media Thanks
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 1,000 or more About $747

    The Chosen One!

    As prophesied in the sacred texts, you have come to deliver us to the promised land!

    Thine name shall be inscribed in the credits as Executive Producer, and bountiful shall be your treasure trove of rewards.

    You will also be invited to see the special live premiere of the Nightgaunt film, here in Vancouver, Canada.

    Your noble sacrifice to the Old Ones, will never be forgotten.

    Includes:
    • EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CREDIT
    • Nightgaunts T Shirt
    • Signed Nightgaunts Movie Poster
    • Signed 8x10 Cast and Crew Photo
    • 3D Printed Nightgaunt Idol
    • Nightgaunts Postcard
    • Ceremonial Pin
    • Behind the Scenes Content
    • Concept Art
    • Social Media Thanks
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Funding period

- (60 days)