This project's funding goal was not reached on May 19, 2013.
About this project
Ladies and Gentlemen of Kickstarter perusal, if this 'Bonobo' feature film project can raise over £25,000 the films director WILL TATTOO THE KICKSTARTER LOGO ONTO HIS BODY!!!!!! A cheap gimmick? Maybe. But we're very, very, very, very serious. Very... Please read on
Bonobo will be a low budget feature length film shot on the Red Epic this Spring, but it will not look 'low budget'! The video beneath is a 90 second taster promo, shot as something of a 'test' using 3 different cameras and shot/edited in just one day.
BONOBO – the feature film
Written and to be directed by multi-award winning filmmaker Mark Withers, BONOBO is a feature length horror film of the non-traditional kind. It’s horror as in a ‘horrible’ situation. A situation many adults will relate to, but a dilemma they’ll wish to never find themselves facing.
The story, with its two (albeit conflicting) protagonists (a happily married couple) should divide audience opinion when it comes to which one they side with; perhaps even shifting emotional response between characters as the film progresses. There is no right or wrong answer as the film raises subjective moral questions and asks ‘what would you do in this situation, and how would you react later?’
Covering themes of greed, love, mistrust, paranoia, sex, adultery, masculinity and jealousy, tonally the film can be likened to recent classics ‘Blue Valentine’, ‘Requiem For a Dream’ and ‘There Will Be Blood’. With adjectives such as ‘intelligent’, ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘devastating’ being used in regards to the overwhelmingly positive response to the script. It is currently under consideration from several names actors (whom we legally cannot currently name) to flesh out cameo roles.
Very much a mood piece, ‘Bonobo’ will shoot with the latest digital technology – the 5K Red Epic; lensed by Kodak cinematography award winner Steve Marshall. Director Mark Withers has exhaustively storyboarded the film into 440 shots and claims “every frame will look beautiful”.
Dictated by several wordless back-to-back scenes mid-way through the film, visually ‘Bonobo’ has been split into two discreet halves. Following the beginnings of a relationship breakdown, the first-half of the film will only use tripod-based camera work and for every scene the married couple are in together they will share the same frame space so they are never separated from one another.
The second half of the film when the relationship begins to destabilise only utilises subtle hand-held camera work reflecting that stage of their relationship. Additionally, no longer will these two characters share any frames, now only appearing in single shots or occasionally with one of them lost in a shallow depth of field.
The colour palette too will also alter, whilst green is used as a motif throughout, brighter colours such as reds, yellows, and orange sunsets are all featured in the first part whilst the second shifts more toward greys, browns, dark greens and blacks.
The director is drawing inspiration from the films of Wim Wenders, PT Anderson, Nic Roeg, Lynne Ramsay, Steven Soderbergh, John Cassavetes and Wong Kar-wai, amongst others.
The title ‘Bonobo’ is a metaphor relating to the primates who share a remarkably similar sex life to humans, whilst the female bonobo is smart enough to trade food for sexual favours in order to provide for her family. This is partially explained within the film.
Contemporary-set, using the current recession as a backdrop, ANYONE who has ever been in a loving relationship should appreciate this film and understand the hard decision the characters have to make, whether sympathetic or not, and by relating to these on-screen people should make ‘Bonobo’ a film more realistic and involving experience than a could-never-happen zombie flick PLUS raise interesting points of moral discussion after the film has ended!
BONOBO – the team
Making the film the best possible product is the main mission of the team, but it will also bring together many talented individuals who may otherwise not had the opportunity to meet, let alone work together and gain them access to the highs and lows of producing a feature length film and further progress their chosen career paths. Creating jobs. Creating friendships. Creating babies....um....maybe.
Writer/Director (and one of the producers) Mark Withers is a multi-award winning filmmaker (including Total Film magazine's best short comedy for 'My Mum the Wrestler') with almost 20 years experience and a lifelong cineaste. Shooting over 300 films of varying lengths, styles and genres for many clients around the world including a TV series green lit by Fox in LA, Mark has additionally self-financed 3 low budget features that employed over 300 individuals - the last of which secured UK DVD distribution. ‘Bonobo’ will be quite a different project from most of his past films. Mark has a beard with grey bits, likes patting dogs and drinking wine (sometimes simultaneously) whilst recently learning how to tiddlywink with the aim of one day being the world's biggest winker.
Producer Oriana Ornithari is a former law graduate and relatively new to the film industry, but has already produced several music promos, short films and commercials and was part of a filmmaking team that raised over £400,000 in 2012 to produce the feature film ‘2 Days in the Smoke’ (currently in post production). Originating from Cyprus, Oriana cannot be held responsible for the countries recent financial difficulties and in her spare time enjoys Space hoppering and crop dusting.
Cinematographer Steve Marshall has won several awards for his work including the Kodak best student cinematographer award in 2010. Steve creates beautiful imagery on dramas, documentaries, music promos and features using both HD video and celluloid. Steve sports a number of tattoos, a vast collection of ‘Star Wars’ T-shirts and enjoys flipping and catching beer mats off table edges, of which he can do three at a time.
Christopher Hatherall will be playing Alec Turner. Chris has been a professional actor since 2005, cast in films and television starring Kevin Costner, Ray Winstone, Jason Flemyng, Om Puri and Tim Roth. Hailing from Gloucestershire he claims to have never once stolen a combine harvester for a late night laugh, but a twinkle in his eye tells a different story...and his prosthetic middle finger confirms suspicions.
Freya Berry will be playing Sarah Turner. Of mixed English-Italian heritage, Freya was a Sky presenter before graduating the Central School of Speech & Drama and studying Meisner at the Actors Temple in London. She has most notably worked alongside Bob Hoskins and Damian Lewis. Freya enjoys painting by numbers, holds the ranking of 47th most photographed woman from Dorset and her middle name is Goose.
Additional cast and crew, include:
Jordan Kitching (Mechanical engineer specialising in ultra deep oil, gas and renewable systems. Insisting his hair has ADHD, it is currently modelled after Bruce Campbell)
Nish Saccaram (IT security specialist and charity trustee; helped organise the World's Highest Gig and stage managed for several professional theatres. Claims Egg from 'Big Trouble in Little China' is his second cousin and all characters and incidents were not a work of fiction)
Becky Finnegan (Production Assistant)
Christof R. Davies (Composer)
Chris Marshall (1st AD)
Elena Harding (Actor - Gretchen)
Greg Barnett (Actor - Jude)
James Friend (A Cam op.)
Lynette Creane (Actor - Zoe)
Nigel Albermanichie (Sound recordist)
Saba Kia (Production manager)
Sebastian Alcock (Actor - Bodyguard)
Vince Dalaimo (Accountant)
and the band BITTER RUIN, for whom the director previously made 3 music promos, will be appearing as a lounge act!
BONOBO – the financial side
The top-line budget for ‘Bonobo’ will not exceed £35,000. A lot of money, yet a tiny amount for producing a cinema/broadcast suitable feature film. The script was specifically written with this amount in mind, so many locations are re-visited with a small cast and no special effects. Making a film on a limited budget, yet with an end product looking as though is cost 100x more is a challenge within itself for the team, but will therefore mean less money has to be recouped in order to start turning a profit, leading on to future film productions!
All cast and crew members are pulling together to make it succeed on this amount, working for vastly reduced fees over the 3 week shoot, pulling in favours to secure kit at lower than usual rates and doubling up on jobs to keep crew members to a necessary minimum.
As an example of how professional a product these filmmakers can produce, this music video cost a total budget of just £30.
Considering three picturesque Peak District cottages, one Presidential suite in a Westminster hotel, a Tower Bridge facing restaurant and a Covent Garden bar have been secured for filming this June ‘Bonobo’ WILL be going into production.
So why are we here seeking funds?
As stated, the top-line budget is £35,000. We now have £20,000, un-ideally raised through the director’s personal investment accumulated whilst working as a freelance director, money left to him in a will and by racking up two credit cards. None of which is an ideal situation as this a man who will now be eating beans and packet noodles until he turns 50. Already most of this production money has been spent to secure the aforementioned locations (giving brilliant production value) and making sure the necessary filming kit is available.
So any of that 20k clawed back would be amazing, but first and foremost it’s about raising the additional £15,000 in order to pay the remainder of the location fees (did you know to 'officially' film on the London Underground costs £500 per hour!), plus feed, accommodate and transport the cast and crew around the country. Additionally there will be post-production expenses (colour grade/sound mix; Mark Withers will do the off-line edit for free) and final deliverables, plus insurance, props we haven’t already sourced in charity shops, wardrobe and marketing costs including worldwide film festival submission fees – starting in mid-September with Sundance 2014 consideration.
So any amount beyond the minimum figure of £7,500 we're hoping to raise will be an outstanding achievement thanks to you, and any further pledges if and after hitting this minimum amount will be hugely appreciated in order to help make 'Bonobo' the best production we can afford and maybe even buy the director a can of name brand beans....
As one of the producers, Mark Withers set up a limited company in February 2013 solely for the production of 'Bonobo' under the name Rockin' Motion Pictures.
Social media networking is being heavily used to publicise all elements of the film, keeping potential audience members and distributors in the loop, from casting choices to sneak peeks at various storyboard pages and a production diary.
To date the production has very kindly had props donated by:
BONOBO – the end game
Beyond a group of eager filmmakers and actors really showing what they can achieve in order to further propel their chosen career paths, the goal is to produce a really intriguing super-professional looking and saleable feature film with an off-line edit ready by mid-August and a London cinema premier in October/November before the 2014 worldwide film festival/market onslaught.
Admittedly we are going about proceedings slightly back-to-front without upfront sales. However sticking to the 35k limited budget makes a lot less financial risk and more importantly means no outside interference on an artistic level. Based upon script feedback we are extremely confident 'Bonobo' will sell and more than recoup its budget.
Starting with a strong foundation (the script) brought to life by a professional and talented cast/crew, the only way is up! Telling a universal story doesn’t limit the films marketability and with 61 worldwide territories that’s a lot of scope for selling the film to distributors for theatrical, home market (DVD), Internet (VOD) and broadcast screenings.
On completion of the film the sales process will begin by approaching distributors and sales agents from around the world whilst attending film markets such as the AFM, Berlinale, TIFF, MIP-TV, Cannes and Toronto to drum up interest, sales and awards! This was the case with the directors previously distributed feature film – the comedy ‘Hardcore: Bare Naked Talent’.
A number of recent British micro-budget films have achieved great heights. These in recent years include Christopher Nolan’s ‘Following’ who subsequently went on to directed films with much larger budgets including the Batman franchise, ‘Down Terrace’ (£6,000) by Ben Wheatley who then was able to direct 3 further films with budgets from £700,000 to £1.5 million, Gareth Edwards ‘Monsters’ (£15,000) that propelled him onto the job of directing ‘Godzilla’ (2014) and ‘The Zombie Diaries’ (£8,000) by filmmaking duo Kevin Gates and Michael Bartlett that allowed them to move forward with ‘Zombie Diaries 2’ backed by the Weinstein Company.
Micro-budget feature film examples of production costs and box office:
Film Budget Box Office
‘Primer’ (2006) £4,000 £380,000
‘Another Earth’ (2011) £100,000 £875,000
‘Once’ (2006) £113,000 £12 million
‘Paranormal Activity’ (2006) £7,000 £132 million
Film ‘Bonobo’ is most thematically similar to in recent years
Blue Valentine (2011) £670,000 £6 million
AND REMEMBER, ANY DONATIONS MADE ARE CONSIDERED A BUSINESS EXPENSE.
Mark Withers and Rockin' Motion Pictures thank you in advance for at least pondering this proposal, and if you've read this far....you must be seriously considering it!
FADE TO BLACK
Risks and challenges
Producing a feature length film for £35,000 is a challenge within itself, but the producers and especially Mark Withers have been working extensively for several months on this project to ensure it runs like a military operation, wrapping on-time and under budget; and they've managed it before!!.
None of Mark Withers other films have ever faced problems so extreme that they were incomplete, nor actors dropping out or a mutinous crew! However...
The actors could become ill....if they are very ill starting early on in production we do have second choice replacements to turn to. If it's a minor illness production can work around them, re-shuffling the schedule and there is some leeway for starting marginally later than planned and ending a little later too.
Shoots are usually great deal of fun and not overly strenuous.
There are elements such as very wet weather that could hinder exterior filming work, so there are 2 schedules for such incidents, especially the way in which British weather is, but that's main reason why June has been chosen for production.
As all filming locations are 'real' the crew could potentially go back for re-shoots and pick-ups in a worse case scenario.
Shooting digital as oppose to celluloid or analogue could potentially mean the loss of data, ie. our footage - so all material will be backed up three times onto hard drives.
60% of the scenes have been designed to shoot 2 cameras simultaneously to speed up production and allow actors to really get stuck into scenes rather than shooting small sections at a time. However, should a camera break, we will have two at any given time acting as a back-up. We will have enough lighting equipment to cover failure in that department too including surplus bulbs!
What if production has under-estimated the cost and run out of money?! A 15% over-spend has been added into the required budget, however the director is prepared to take out a business bank loan to further finance the picture and has also been kindly offered the generosity and support of several friends and family members to financial (soft loan) aide in times of such a crisis and in the most extreme case can sell a kidney, or some his personal video equipment.
The film can also claim up to 25% of it's budget back as UK film tax credits, so any over-expenditure can be covered with that; otherwise the tax credit will be used to fund film festival attendance and selling of the film.
Too many factors are already in place (secured and paid for) for us to decide not to shoot the film this June. It WILL happen.
- (32 days)