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Zeppelins. Rockets. Steam-powered robots. It’s 1876, and Cade Ballard is trying to get to Mars…
Cowboys & Engines is an ambitious steampunk adventure that follows Cade Ballard (Richard Hatch), the war-weary former ambassador from the nation of Texas as he meets Guinivere Wheeler (Libby Letlow), a woman who proves to be as dangerous as she is charming. When they encounter Professor Nicholas Timéon (Walter Koenig), and learn that his temporal engine, a machine with incredible destructive power, has been stolen by would-be conqueror Dr. Clay (Malcolm McDowell), Cade and Guinivere set off to save San Francisco from total destruction.
This film is a labor of love, and an attempt to create something completely original and visually stunning. The movie will be something we can all be proud of; a fun, exciting ride that never becomes silly or tongue-in-cheek. The script is extremely tight, with sharp dialogue and great characters. The cast is first-rate, and though the creative professionals behind the camera might not be household names, they’re a respected team capable of working miracles.
Hollywood has failed miserably in its attempts to bring steampunk to the screen; we’re going to do it right. Cowboys & Engines is a festival piece that will redefine steampunk for the world at large as a way of re-imagining fantasy adventure.
It was really important to us that the world of Cowboys & Engines feel very real. The characters have human flaws, goals and motivations. The machines are designed as if they really work, with everything carefully executed to be the perfect balance between form and function. The history makes sense, and gives this world a backbone that runs throughout the narrative.
We wanted the 1876 of Cowboys & Engines to feel like it isn’t our world… but it could be.
Walter Koenig — Actor, director, screenwriter, novelist, acting professor, and comic book creator; Walter Koenig’s career has spanned nearly five decades, touching every corner of the entertainment industry. While he is best known and loved for his role as Pavel Chekov in the original Star Trek series and the first seven films, he was also a fan favorite in his appearances on Babylon 5 as Psi Cop Alfred Bester.
Richard Hatch — Although he starred in the show as Lieutenant Apollo for only one season, television actor Richard Hatch became the ambassador of cult sci-fi series Battlestar: Galactica. After years of trying to resurrect interest in the idea, through novels and a self-produced short film, Hatch was rewarded with a recurring part as Tom Zarek, President Rosslyn's counterpart on the show’s incredibly popular Sci-Fi Channel reboot.
Libby Letlow — Libby Letlow began her professional acting career as series regular Patsy on the television series Masked Rider. Since then, she’s filled different roles in a variety of film and stage projects, including producing the indie film Maro, appearing as Lady Macbeth at the Glendale Theater Guild, and working as the lead puppeteer in DOMA Theatre Company’s insanely popular Los Angeles run of Avenue Q.
Malcolm McDowell — You know him as Alex in A Clockwork Orange, H.G. Wells in Time After Time, and Soran in Star Trek: Generations. Now Malcolm freakin' McDowell will be playing Dr. Clay!
We aren’t hiding the fact that many of us who are working behind the camera to bring Cowboys & Engines to life have risen to the top of the adult film industry. Our director and one of our producers have both won the most prestigious awards and accolades that business has to offer. It certainly isn’t a secret, but it’s also nothing to do with this project in any way.
Cowboys & Engines is an attempt to create something truly amazing. A dynamic, entertaining work of art for its own sake. A film that demonstrates without compromise that the people making it, irrespective of their professional backgrounds, are artists capable of working far beyond the narrow constraints of public expectation.
We’re filmmakers. And this movie is going to rock.
- Mike Cabana, Executive Producer
- Melissa Kimbro, Executive Producer
- Bryn Pryor, Writer & Director
- James Deen, Producer
- Charles Mead, Producer
- Hollywood Heard, Director of Photography
- Ryan Carter, VFX Supervisor
A film this ambitious takes an incredible amount of time, work, and (of course) money. With civil war-era reanimated dead robot soldiers, massive battle zeppelins, 15-story Victorian rockets, mechanical horses, a machine that warps time and a cast in the dozens, we can’t make this film by grabbing costumes from the attic and putting on a show in the old barn.
In a film like this, almost nothing is off the rack. Every piece of wardrobe has to be customized, every prop altered, and every setting dressed in a way that suggests a familiar – but different – 1876. And, of course, what we can’t build has to come to life in the computer. Reaching our goal will allow us to create that world, but first we have to get there!
To lure you into helping us fulfill our vision, we’ve assembled some of the most remarkable rewards packages ever seen on Kickstarter, with more goodies, and more opportunity to actually participate in the film, than have ever been seen on Kickstarter.
These are some of the unique items available:
• THE COMIC-BOOK ONE-SHEET — Popular comic book artist Satine Phoenix will be creating an original piece depicting the main characters in a “comic book” rendering. The hardcopies of this poster will only be available here.
• MAP OF THE GREATER AMERICAS — The North America of Cowboys & Engines is home to five nations, three of which have been at war for nearly two decades. This gorgeous poster depicts the Greater Americas of our alternate 1876, and shows each character’s journey during the course of the film.
• THE WORLD THAT NEVER WAS: THE ALTERNATE HISTORY OF COWBOYS & ENGINES — We've written a short history of this world, detailing the alternate timeline and how events changed to create our era of anachronism. This softcover edition is a Kickstarter-only printing.
• PRESS KIT — Our complete pressbook with photos, productions notes, headshots, cast & crew bios and more. We’re printing these for promotional purposes, and to hand out at screenings and festivals. The only place you can get them directly is Kickstarter.
• ORIGINAL PROPS & WARDROBE — From goggles to guns to Guinivere’s mechanical horse, we’ll be making a limited number of original props, set decorations and wardrobe pieces available to our Kickstarter supporters. These will be available on a first-come, first served basis, so the sooner you jump in, the more choices you have.
• POKER NIGHT & GAME NIGHT — Come play poker with the cast & crew of the film. Spend a few hours trading cards, war stories, and discussing the business. Or, if you’re of a more geeky persuasion (as many of us are), we’ll be having several nights with an assortment of RPGs, CCGs and Tactical Games, each hosted by Jeff Cannata.
• BE IN THE FILM — Come be an extra in full costume and get your picture taken with Walter Koenig or our top-secret Dr. Clay. For the serious actor, there are also two small speaking parts we've set aside just for Kickstarter supporters!
• PRODUCER CREDITS — A lot of films hand out producer credits, but ours actually involve becoming a part of the process. Our Associate Producers get to come work on set every day, and our Executive Producer gets to offer input on the script, thoughts about the FX designs, and work with us as a hands-on partner during production.
One way or another, this film is going to get made. This is your opportunity to be involved. We can’t wait to visit 1876, and we’re excited for you to come with us!
Everything about Cowboys & Engines is a challenge. It’s been a challenge finding the perfect cast. It’s been a challenge tracking down locations. Production design, prop & wardrobe manufacture, VFX modelwork and creation… “challenge” doesn't begin to describe it.
One major hurdle is going to be shooting in Nevada. We have three days on location at a ghost town that's hours from the nearest civilization. Getting out into an area where you have few resources and no control over the environment is always a little scary.
Also, the debt this movie will owe to special effects is huge. Our VFX supervisor is incredibly skilled and capable, but our responsibility during production is to give him the raw materials he needs to work with. That means we need to take the time to do it right.
But that’s the whole point of tackling a project like this. Creativity is like a muscle, and you don’t gain without flexing it, preferably by lifting the biggest weight you can. Cowboys & Engines is a really friggin’ BIG weight, but we’re confident we can pick it up and run with it.
The biggest answer to these challenges is planning, and we're doing a lot of it. We're scheduling very carefully, planning for contingencies and figuring out backup plans for the backup plans. When you don't have money to throw at problems, you solve them with elbow grease, so we're stocking up on it.
None of us would be doing this if it were easy. Frankly, every truly great film has resulted from creative people pushing the envelope and expanding their own boundaries. There’s no doubt that this is a really big bite we've taken, but with enough backing and elbow grease, we can chew it.
Is this movie affiliated with the adult industry?
No. Not in any way. We only bring it up because both James Deen and Bryn Pryor are inextricably linked with the adult business, as any Google search will reveal. But this project is strictly mainstream.
What will you do if you exceed your funding goal?
Frankly, we hope to. Our stretch goal is $150,000, which will allow us to finish post-production more quickly, travel to more festivals, and have more tools at our disposal to polish the finished product.
Can I pledge for different tiers that offer different rewards?
Yes, there are two ways of going about this:
1. Start a 2nd Kickstarter account with a 2nd email address to pledge for 2 distinct rewards
2. You can pledge the cumulative amount for both rewards and then shoot us an email and we will make a note of it.
Will the DVD and Blu-ray be Region Free?
Yes, the DVD will be region-free, and the Blu-ray will be all-region, so they'll play anywhere in the world; however, the DVD will be NTSC only.
Risks and challenges
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