The Odd Essay is a USC Thesis film that will expand into an independent feature-length film by shooting consecutively (back-to-back) which is a first for the USC School of Cinematic Arts program.
For us, this film is a culmination of years of work. We want to tell this story so very badly because we believe it's funny, fun and heartfelt. I know that if we were lucky enough to reach our goal then we would be able to make a story that can help all of us take our first big step into the industry. We want to be the first to expand a thesis into a feature film in this manner and we hope that with your support you will be helping to launch the careers of over one hundred people attached to this project. It's familiar yet original while being edgy but open to a wide audience, thank you for taking the time to consider us.
This is the story of one kid named Desmond, on his first night of college the stars align and he has the chance to lose his virginity if he can just get to this party on the other side of campus where his dream girl; Penny resides.
This story will be a retelling of The Odyssey on a college campus. When the world sees a fence our protagonist sees the Trojan wall. When he bumps into a giant football player, we see a Cyclops that he pokes in the eye to escape. Everything that happened to Odysseus in his tale, will have a comedic, fun and action packed correlation to Dez’s new life at school, culminating in a fight for Desmond’s manhood in order to become the hero he envies so much and if we're lucky, we might just have a few laughs along the way.
The Odd Essay will be captured in 4k raw and distributed in 1920x1080HD. The visual approach to the film will include highly stylized Greek portions comically clashing with everyday college campus life; picture Superbad meets O’Brother Where Art Thou.
Above is a previsualization of one of the more visual effects-heavy moments of the story. With our hero Desmond trapped in a classroom with a bunch of hipster lettuce eaters, we journey into his fantasy to see him explore the Island of The Lotus Eaters at which point he comes across the hilariously sarcastic Greek God; Hermes.
Above is the type of costume we will only be able to get our hands on with the help of each and every one of you. By putting real life gritty and believable costumes to our characters, they will be able to reach new levels of realism and keep the Greek fantasies alive. We want our costume designer to have access to incredibly detailed and cinematic items like the Greek Warrior costume above. Let's get Desmond dressed already!
Tom Watts is from a big blue-collar family in Cleveland, Ohio. He went on to attend Ohio State University where he obtained his Bachelor's in Business, before moving to California in pursuit of his Master's Degree from the University of Southern California. There he currently studies Film & Television Production at the world famous; School of Cinematic Arts. There he's been lucky enough to work with countless industry professionals and incredible faculty to learn from the very best in the film industry. Tom is currently creating his thesis which we all hope you can help be a part of and bring to life.
Justine Barker is a Chicago native currently attending USC's School of Cinematic Arts with a concentration in producing and cinematography. Growing up, her battered VHS copies of E.T. and The Goonies were early indications of her obsession with film. She has produced and directed numerous short films including associate producing Waltham Vanguard, winner of the CINE Golden Eagle award and directing Perfect Day for a Ride Along for Campus MovieFest. She was a classical ballet dancer trained by Maniya Barredo of the Atlanta Ballet as well as a non-profit fundraising manager for the Human Rights Campaign and Environment Illinois before deciding to combine her interests through filmmaking to make kick-ass films pursuing social and environmental change.
Shardul Sharma completed his Film & TV Producing course from New York Film Academy, Los Angeles. He worked as an assistant creative producer at Hyde Park Entertainment for two films, Careful What you Wish For and Midnight Sun. Shardul has a solid background in developing and producing feature films, short films, music videos and documentary films. Currently, he is working as an Associate Producer at 108 Productions for the movie Billion Dollar Raja.
Shammika Tomar is originally from Agra, India. She’s a New York Film Academy graduate. Movies have piqued her interest since she was a child. Her inclination is more towards Producing. At such a young age, she has produced several short films, which have won awards globally. She has also worked on TV shows and commercials with Hollywood celebrities. Producer
Tatiana Chelysheva graduated from the Financial University Under the Government of the Russian Federation with the Law degree and decided to continue her study and do the Masters of Fine Arts in Producing at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. During her study, she has produced several successful live action and documentary short films and has become the first student on her course to be allowed to do the feature film as the final project.
Noe Saintclair was born in Paris, France and lived there until the age of five before moving to Napa Valley in Northern California. His family is half American, half Spanish, so he is fluent in all three languages (English, Spanish and French). Growing up with a passion for film he went to LA as a teenager to pursue a career in the industry. Eventually, he was admitted to the USC School of Cinematic Arts where he met Tom.
Director of Photography
Wesley “Wes” Rodriguez is currently a student at the University of Southern California (USC) pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in Film and Television Production and is a DGA John Frankenheimer Fellow. He began his journey into the world of production at the University of Florida (UF), where he received his Bachelors degree in Telecommunication Production in 2012. More recently, Wes has spent his time at USC learning the techniques of cinematography and has photographed more than 20 short films during his first two years of the program as well as a documentary in Thailand. Wes likes to keep it fun on set and was voted “Most Likely to Latin Dance on Set” by his peers at USC. He is also an Eagle Scout, loves to camp and hike and is dedicated to nature and wildlife conservation.
Doug Yablun graduated from the University of Florida in 2013 and moved out to LA to pursue his career as a film editor. He became interested in film through making skateboard films with his friends in high school. After that, he fell in love with storytelling and the technical subtleties that make a film both emotional and inspirational. He is currently a freelance editor living in LA.
Josh Kadish is a fledgling filmmaker pursuing a career in post-production work alongside an M.F.A. in Film & Television Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Previously, Josh pursued a more academic path when studying Critical Studies at the School of Cinematic Arts, from which he graduated in May of 2013. Throughout his experiences, Josh has been drawn to spinning stories that stem from a personal sense of self - stories that are predicated on exploring a myriad of social and psychological issues. He’s worked for a series of organizations committed to bringing a similar stamp to the work they’re a part of - including the Shoah Foundation, Plan B Entertainment, Scott Free Productions, and RWSG Literary Agency.
Jeremy Deneau began learning post production in 2004. He was given 10 hours of footage and asked to assemble a 30 minute television show. With no prior video editing experience, he purchased a version of Avid Express DV and began learning on the job. Since, he has work on a wide variety of project ranging from narrative shorts, music videos, infomercials, narrative features and several feature length documentaries, 2 of which have been screened at the Festival de Cannes. After many years of working independently, Jeremy returned to school in hopes of turning this part time work into a career. He is currently attending the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California pursuing a bachelor’s degree in film and television production.
From an early age Rick Strieck was fascinated by the exciting world of creatures, fairy tales, nightmares and monsters. He has always been heavily influenced by comic books, classic horror films, science fiction films, and fine art. It is within those arenas which he aspires to make my artistic contributions, and so he continue to broaden his experiences and opportunities in the arts. Finding humor in the absurd, he continues to absorb ideas and spend his free time locked in his laboratory creating playfully creepy illustrations. Primarily using watercolor with pen & ink illustrations he finds his art has the look and appeal of a child’s imagination.
Ruthie DeVito is an Animator and Visual Artist living and working in Los Angeles, CA. While working between many mediums her true love is for the art of Stop Motion Animation. Where she finds joy in the tactile nature and meticulous process used. She is currently building her own puppets to create her own Stop Motion Short that explores relationships between two sisters, set in a lovely world, only to be dampened with a twist of darkness.
Nicki Katz is an Independent Casting Director based in Los Angeles. Her latest feature, Excess Flesh premiered at SXSW in 2015. She’s worked as an Associate on independent feature films, including The Wrong Stuff, and Sophie & The Rising Sun with Donna Morong, CSA. In 2014, she was a part of the casting departments for two Golden Globe award-winning TV series: Transparent and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Nicki has cast over 50 award winning short films, pilots, music videos, web series, and commercials. She grew up in San Diego and loves spending time with her grandparents who are survivors, and volunteering her time at animal shelters.
Donna Morong is a respected casting director with over 25 years in the business. She spent 15 years at The Walt Disney Company ultimately becoming Senior Vice President of Motion Picture Casting in the feature film division, where she cast films such as “PRINCESS DIARIES”, “SHANGHAI KNIGHTS”, “10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU”, “DEUCE BIGOLO”, “ANNAPOLIS”, “CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN”. In 2008, she won an Artios Award for casting Ben Affleck’s “GONE BABY GONE” for Miramax which garnered an Academy Award Nomination for Amy Ryan.
With an incredible team like this I know we can create a fun and funny story with a lot of heart. We've been lucky enough to find and collaborate with some of the best and brightest coming out of many different film schools at the moment including my Graduate Program with The University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. Only with the help of all of you can we hope to get the funding necessary to get this team the tools it needs to tell this original story. Combining a college comedy with an action adventure in the Greek world is no small task.
Allocation of Funds
I know with your donations and the team outlined above, we will make something to remember and I will do everything in my power to make all of you proud... And to make you laugh... My Mom tells me I'm hilarious, so I got that going for me.
Risks and challenges
There are many challenges when putting together a feature film. There have many challenges we've faced already and we will continue to circumvent, plan and surround ourselves with the right people to avoid and combat any obstacles.
Some of the bigger hurdles will be managing such a big team with so many cast and crew members on an independent project. Luckily we were fortunate enough to secure one of the best First AD's coming out of USC to wrangle and keep our team on track. Not to mention a well networked team of eight Producers in various capacities to ensure a smooth and comfortable working environment to pull the very best from our team. While there could be other obstacles such as visual effects and equipment, we have an incredible team making plans and backup plans to ensure we get it done. I can assure you that this film is my sole focus in life.
I want to tell this story to the best of its' abilities and nothing will stop me from completing it, I hope I get the chance to prove that to you all with your fantastic support.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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