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"The Ultimate Guide to Life" is a feature-length animated film, a satire of contemporary life and culture in documentary form.

In A Nutshell:

It's like a bunch of public service announcements taken to the extreme.

the ultimate guide to life (presented in all lower-case) is an independently produced feature-length animated film, a satire of contemporary life and culture in documentary form.  The majority of the animation and visual content will be created by a single Animator, Stephen W. Brandt, who will also serve as the primary writer (see "Primary Talent" and visit his website at http://www.stephenwbrandt.com).  Presented as a series of monologues, "how to" quasi-instructional segments, comedy sketches, lists, and exploratory graphics, the themes of consumerism, digital culture, ecology, and spirituality will be explored.  This film will by no means be intended to serve as an actual guide for anyone's life, will probably contain no practical advice, and will be intended for entertainment purposes only.  Some segments have already been completed, such as How to Acquire a Lasagna Dish and How to Survive a Robot Uprising, presented here.  It is estimated that it will take a year and a half to complete this project.

Usage of Funds:

The Animator/Filmmaker Stephen W. Brandt has already been awarded an $8,000 artist fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to be used for this project.  Thus far much of this grant money has already been spent on computer equipment (Mac) and software (Adobe) and for the production of two of the existing segments:  how to acquire a lasagna dish and how to survive a robot uprising.

Of the $45,000 total amount requested to complete this project, $5,000 will be reserved for tax purposes.  The remaining amounts will be divided into three portions.  At least $14,000 will go towards pre- and post-production costs, such as for audio recording and engineering, voice-over talents, and music production.  Another $14,000 will go towards production, the animation itself.  The remaining $12,000 will go for distribution of the film, such as film festival entry fees, website, pubic relations outlets, and legal fees.  These amounts are subject to adjustment.

Other Needs to Be Met:

To complete the ultimate guide to life, donations other than of monetary form would be appreciated.  Professionals willing to donate their writing, animating, acting, and audio engineering talents would be most appreciated and are encouraged to contact the filmmaker with a resume and/or url links to samples of their work at swb@stephenwbrandt.com.  (The filmmaker is also open to offers of product placements and/or corporate sponsorships.)

Primary Talent:

Animator and Filmmaker Stephen W. Brandt

After receiving a BFA at Virginia Commonwealth University and working as an animation cell colorist/finisher in Richmond, Virginia, Stephen W. Brandt relocated to Los Angeles in 1993 and began his career in broadcast design as a designer at E! Entertainment Television. He then worked as a Senior Designer and eventually as an Art Director at Turner Entertainment Networks in Atlanta, contributing to the on-air identities of TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and Turner Classic Movies. As a freelance Art Director in New York City, he worked with such television networks as The Movie Channel, Showtime, Showtime Extreme, Showtime Beyond, Flix, and PBS. In 2001 he returned to Richmond and made the transition from broadcast design into television commercial production. His clients include Bojangle's Chicken, The Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation, and World of Mirth. When not creating spots for television, he enjoys making animated shorts which have been shown across the United States at various film festivals; his short nyc 2057ad aired on LOGO TV. He has earned several awards from the Broadcast Design Association and has been featured in Communication Arts and Print magazines, as well as having served as a juror for national and international design competitions.  He most recently has received an artist fellowship from The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Terry Menefee Gau, Voice Artist and Writer

Terry has worked with Stephen on several projects, including monologue.  She has voiced characters for The Team (SpikeTV) and Epic Abraham.  Terry can be seen in film and on TV as well, most recently in Killing Kennedy with Rob Lowe and Ginnifer Goodwin which will be aired in November, 2013 on the National Geographic Channel. Terry also does a lot of local theatre, most notably Amanda in The Glass Menagerie, Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, and The Player in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.  She is also a writer, theologian, and amateur chef blogging her thoughts on life, faith, and cooking in her blog, A Rage for Explaining (www.rageforexplaining.com). She loves creating characters and performing and looks forward to working on this project!

Brett Ambler, Voice Artist

Brett Ambler is an accomplished Actor and Musician; he has worked in theater, television, film, and radio, specializing in voice-over narrations and beatboxing.  As a child he worked with Robert Redford in a small role in Quiz Show and has since then done much voice-over work for Random House and has performed in countless theatrical productions in the central Virginia and central Colorado areas. He has earned a BA in Communication Studies and Rhetoric at the University of Richmond, as well as having had extensive training in acting, voice, and dialect.

Paul Bruski, Audio Recording, Design and Engineering

Emmy Award winner Paul Bruski is a key member of In Your Ear, a full service audio studio in Richmond, Virginia. His many years of experience include the engineering of sound for television, cinema and radio, as well as musical recordings. Currently he contributes to the creation of commercials for The Martin Agency (for such clients as Geico and WalMart) and to the FOX hits Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show.  His experience working on major motion pictures most recently includes The Help.

Jackson MacInnis, Music

Jackson MacInnis, Music Producer, Composer, and Multi-Instrumentalist, has performed music for forty years, playing a variety of roles from film composer to recording engineer. Jackson began music studies at the age of five on the Piano. By the age of eight, he was enrolled at Tulane University studying music theory in New Orleans outside of his regular studies, later studying Music Production Engineering and Film Music Composition at Berklee College of Music. While working for CNN in his 20’s as an audio engineer he also composed and performed many soundtracks for film and television, including The Discovery Channel's famous Walking with Prehistoric Beasts.  He continues to compose for National Geographic and The Discovery Channel flagship programs (and various other projects) and is the Director of Performance Theatre at Sirius/XM Radio, producing hundreds of sessions for artists such as Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Smashing Pumpkins, Coldplay, Lenny Kravitz, and Sonic Youth. In the Sirius house band Jackson (on keyboards) played with Junior Marvin (Bob Marley), Jon Anderson (Yes) and Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens). He was granted artist recognition by Gibson guitar and has recently performed as guitarist with Washington’s instrumental post-rock ensemble Tone at the Kennedy Center.

All Materials ©2013 Stephen W. Brandt - All Rights Reserved

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Probably the greatest challenge to this project is the huge amount of time and effort it will take of the filmmaker to create the visuals for this feature-length film on such a small budget. The animation process will take a huge amount of micro-managing and there will need to be many compromises made with costs without making compromises in the quality of the animation. Having worked in television on a national level, the filmmaker has become very efficient at managing time, resources and large budgets.

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Funding period

- (60 days)