About this project
What is ALEX AND ASH?
ALEX AND ASH is an independent feature length comedy. Alex is a software engineer by day and aspiring historian by night. Ash is a waitress with an art degree. Together their relationship has a healthy equilibrium until they begin receiving pieces of a jigsaw puzzle via the mail. As the pieces grow, Alex & Ash become obsessed with what the puzzle means, gradually becoming more disconnected from the real world and simultaneously suspicious and wary of each other and their relationship.
ALEX AND ASH is a true collaboration between writer, director and performers. Written by Steve Mims specifically for Alex Dobrenko and Ashley Spillers - the two co-starred in HEARTS OF NAPALM, which has been selected for Slamdance 2013!. The film was designed from the ground up to take advantage of the talents of the two leads by pairing them in small, focused and inventive comedy.
Who are these people?
UPDATE: Lookie here! We've just announced two new members to our cast - Hugo Vargas-Zesati and Sam Eidson! Watch the video below and read on for their 100% true bios!
Alex Dobrenko (ALEX) is a rising talent in Austin, Texas’s acting and improv scene. A wit with a degree from Brown University, he’s a natural for a piece built on timing and humor. Like the Alex of the film, (and like half the population of Austin) he’s an over-educated 9-5 employee with an eye for something bigger.
Ashley Spillers (ASHLEY) is an actress who’s quickly making a name for herself in independent and mainstream films, including THE BOUNCEBACK and Christmas 2013’s LAST VEGAS, which includes Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline.
Hugo Vargas-Zesati (ROB) was raised a classically trained bullfighter by his mother in Northern Mexico. He inexplicably left his lucrative career and used his blood money to pursue the life of a restaurateur. His first establishment was the very successful Thai/James Bond-themed restaurant named "Shaken Not Stir-Fried." After 3 years of acclaimed success he closed the doors of his establishment forever. He is now retired and resides in Austin, TX.
Sam Eidson (DIRK) made his trade in the Salt Mines of Northern Virginia till he moved to Austin Texas to seek his fortune in silk factories his father left behind to him.
Mallory Culbert (Trish) graduated from the Plan II Honors program at the University of Texas in Austin where she wrote her first feature screenplay for her senior thesis. As an actress, she has worked with ground-breaking directors Quentin Tarantino and Monte Hellman, as well as rising stars James Cox, Adam Christian Clark, and Spencer Parsons. A comedy improv veteran, Culbert is happy to have an opportunity to explore the quirks and humor in people and relationships through ALEX & ASH.
Annalee Jefferies has joined ALEX AND ASH in the role of Tess. Jefferies spent the bulk of her career as a company member for 3 years at the Arena Stage in D.C. and 20 years at the Alley Theatre in Texas. She performed in Horton Foote's 9 hour "Orphan's Home Cycle" at the Signature Theatre in N.Y. which received a Tony for Best Event of the Season. She appeared in John Barton's 10 hour epic, "Tantalus" as Clytemnestra, Helen of Troy and Andromache directed by Sir Peter Hall which began at Denver Center and had a 6 month tour in England with the RSC. Film and television credits include THE GIRL, AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS, MONSTERS, VIOLETS ARE BLUE, NO MERCY, NED BLESSING, L.A. LAW, CHARLIE'S ANGELS. She studied at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London.
Kakii Keenan is a long time Austin-based art director, who will lend her talent and ingenuity to set design and props.
Steve Mims is an award-winning filmmaker and film lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin. The New York Times called his short AUNT HALLIE: “A treasure...which belongs on everybody’s list of the top-10 funniest films ever made.” His acclaimed documentary INCENDIARY: THE WILLINGHAM CASE, (co-director/editor) won the 2011 Innocence Network Journalism Award, the SXSW Louis Black Award and the 2013 Media Award from the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
We’re raising $32,000.00. That gets us all the way from pre-production to a completed film. By keeping the cast, crew and locations small, and by leveraging everything we have access to, we’re out to make a film that delivers more than you’d think this modest budget would. The logic of writing for specific, talented people has been carried over into the design of the film itself, by bringing in a small, talented crew in all departments. On top of that, we’re keeping the running time short (between 75 and 80 minutes) so that we have fewer pages to shoot on a principal photography schedule of sixteen days and an additional photography schedule of four days.
It’s a filmmaking design focused on performance and writing in a tidy package that mirrors many of the comedies we admire. Great, witty, short features that keep you laughing.
Where will the $32,000.00 go?
Our 'economy with dignity' budget sets out to pay a modest day rate to our cast, cover costs for set construction and props, feed our crew, cover gear and media expenses, a final sound mix, color correction image and delivery of a final master of the film.
A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR
I work all the time. I’m either teaching (UT Austin) shooting client projects (TV ads and shorts) or my own projects, the most recent of which was the documentary INCENDIARY: THE WILLINGHAM CASE (2011, my co-director/producer on that film was Joe Bailey, Jr.) That film has done pretty well to date. It had a limited theatrical run, is available on DVD and iTunes, and it picked up great critical acclaim. It’s even up for two more awards in 2013.
I love film of all stripes, but my first love has always been narrative fiction, and beyond that, I’m particularly keen on comedy.
So ALEX AND ASH is kind of a dream come true. I’ve watched and lived through the technical innovations in digital filmmaking and dreamed of being able to take the best of the new technology and marry it to a perfect independent feature comedy.
Here’s what I mean: We finally have the tools to make a beautiful film built around an excellent cast without the pressure of financing a movie made on motion picture film. ALEX AND ASH is designed to be small. I wrote it for the leads, Alex Dobrenko and Ashley Spillers because they’re excellent. I didn’t write in a vacuum and hope to find talented people later. Having shot many projects, I’ve learned to keep locations to a minimum, keep the cast small and write to the strengths of the players involved.
Beyond all that, the piece works as a movie, and this one has everything we need in a comedy. The plot, which we can’t talk a lot about, is completely original. It hasn’t been done, and we’re tickled to have a tidy original premise. It’s the best combination of cast and story and we’re thrilled to get to make it. Still, it's ambitious enough to deliver what FrancoisTruffaut said makes great movies: "...a blend of truth and spectacle."
Finally, there’s Kickstarter. We’re making our funding goal ambitious but not outrageous. It is very important for us to raise our goal and perhaps exceed it. We’re throwing everything into this, and we’d love to have you join us. In the end you won’t regret it and we won’t forget it.
Thanks for your time and consideration,
Risks and challenges
We're most certainly aware of the risks and challenges associated with making this film.
Our goal will be to complete the film by September. We understand that given the low-budget environment we are working within and the inevitable conflicts that will arise from cast and crew, that schedules may change and completion may need to be pushed back a few weeks. This is something we're prepared to handle and have calibrated for effectively through back-up schedules and work-arounds built into our shooting and post production timelines.
We may also see a slight delay in the delivery of rewards given an overwhelming demand for a certain level or reward (this is a good problem to have!). If this arises, we'll do our best to increase our output and resources necessary to meet our deadlines and, if we are unable to, notify all our backers of the expected delays.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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