What is Skunk about?
Skunk is a story about a teenage girl named Leila, growing up on a failed subdivision in central Texas. When her pit bull is stolen by an amateur dogfighter, Leila is forced to protect what she loves most, at the cost of her own innocence.
What inspired you to make the film?
Skunk is my thesis film in the graduate film program at UT- Austin. Before coming to graduate school I was a youth media educator and social worker for ten years in rural Washington.
Similar to my previous short film Spark, the world of Skunk is based loosely on the experiences of kids I worked with during this time. My students were Native American, lived on a secluded reservation, and many perceived themselves as outsiders. In this script I wanted to create a similar environment -- a situation without the presence of adults, on the outskirts of town where the teens are careening between good and bad decisions as they try to figure out their identities, relationships, and self-worth.
It is essential to me to avoid making caricatures of these kids, but rather create believable and nuanced portrayals that feel true to life. Like many of the youth I used to teach, Leila and the boy she meets, Marco, struggle with some of the same adolescent issues–trying to negotiate relationships in terms of power, performance, and social status, often through the crucible of sex.
I am working with a lot of the same crew that worked on Spark, and our collaboration continues to be an inspiration to me, as does the Austin film community as a whole.
It has been pointed out that the title of my last film and this film sound a lot alike. To that I say, yes. I have a fixation. I am gradually making my way through the dictionary looking for my next film title that is five letters long, begins with “S” and ends with “K.” Suggestions are welcome!
What has happened with the production thus far?
I wrote the script last Fall, and since the beginning of 2013, the Skunk team has been working on bringing this film to the screen. We’re just finishing final rounds of casting - working with local casting agent Vicky Boone as well as collaborating with local schools and youth groups to find youth who may not have a background in acting, but can relate to the parts in an authentic way. In addition, we’ve secured a professional Dog Trainer (and a pit bull body double!), scouted our locations, and signed on a very talented production crew, including producers Kelsey Coggin, Evan Roberts, Monique Walton, and Sarah Kolb.
Production begins MAY 9TH! Our shoot will last 8 days and we will wrap by May 22nd. We are putting all our time, energy, and creativity into preparing for production, meeting our deadlines, and making this film a success.
How much can I donate?
What happens if the goal isn’t reached in time?
If we don’t reach our goal, Skunk receives NO MONEY FOR PRODUCTION. That’s the way Kickstarter works! It’s a gamble, but we believe we can make it. Anything you give helps. It’s all or nothing folks!
I’m excited about Skunk- aside from donating, how can I help?
We’d be thankful to anyone who shares our Kickstarter link on Facebook or Twitter. Like us on Facebook to keep up with updates and announcements. Donation of supplies, gift certificates, and in-kind services are also welcome! Please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
When do you plan to release the film?
Skunk will be completed in the fall of 2013, and submitted to film festivals. You may see it screening across the country or on TV, similar to Spark, which was shown at SXSW, Slamdance, and on PBS. The best outcome for Skunk would be to pave the way for us to make a feature film!
What is your Kickstarter goal? What will the money go to?
We’ve already dedicated a large portion (okay, pretty much all) of our own money to the production. This is where you come in. We still need to cover the following expenses:
- DOG TRAINER: Our amazing dog trainer, Tara Stermer. We were so excited to connect with someone of her experience and enthusiasm to get behind the story we wanted to tell. For over 20 years Tara has specialized in working with “misunderstood” dogs, through her internationally known training and rehabilitation programs. Her pack of dogs will be featured in Skunk.
- CASTING: We are incredibly happy to be working with local casting agent Vicky Boone, The Tree of Life (dir. Terrence Malick) Scenes From the Suburbs (dir. Spike Jonze), and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (dir. David Lowery).
- TALENT: We knew we needed some very special youth to play our teenage leads, and we will be announcing them soon. We are thrilled to have Heather Kafka (Pit Stop and Black Metal, Official Sundance Selections 2013) come on as Janis, Leila’s complicated mother.
- PRODUCTION DESIGN: We have two wonderful Production Designers on board—Cara Stewart (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and Bich Vu. Creating an environment that feels naturalistic and true to the world of Skunk is one of our big challenges. Cara and Bich need funds to design the locations in which our story takes place, including Leila’s home, a river hangout spot for teens, and a (fake!) dog fighting pit.
- MISCELLANEOUS: Food for cast and crew for 8 shooting days, a truck to haul our equipment, locations, wardrobe, make-up, and gear rentals, to name a few! All these are necessary elements of film shoots to keep the crew and cast happy, healthy. It all adds up!
Can you exceed the goal?
Yes, we can! The money we are raising is only a portion of our overall production budget. Raising additional funds will help us cover other expenses like gas for the generator when we film on the river, walkie talkies for the crew, rental fees for the vehicles that appear in the film, not to mention our post production needs like color correction, score, and festival submission fees!
How can I contact you?
Special thanks to the rest of the SKUNK Team: Producers Monique Walton, Evan Roberts, and Kelsey Coggin | Sarah Kolb | Nathan Duncan | Deja Bernhardt | Nina Vizcarrondo | Simon Quiroz | Nathan Efstation| Ben Slamka | Cara Stewart | Bich Vu | Claire White | Tara Stermer | and more to come.
Risks and challenges
There is always the chance that locations will fall through, actors will get sick, the weather will misbehave. Any number of things can happen to forestall production, but we have a very committed team that is dedicated to bringing this project to life. (We are also well practiced in troubleshooting and masterminds of contingency plans.) We are doing everything within our power to begin shooting May 9th!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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