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A Life in Waves is a feature-length documentary film that explores the life and innovations of electronic music pioneer, Suzanne Ciani.
A Life in Waves is a feature-length documentary film that explores the life and innovations of electronic music pioneer, Suzanne Ciani.
A Life in Waves is a feature-length documentary film that explores the life and innovations of electronic music pioneer, Suzanne Ciani.
506 backers pledged $45,627 to help bring this project to life.

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Suzanne Ciani: A Life in Waves

$45,627

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If you watched television, went to the movies, or listened to the radio in the 80s and 90s, you've probably heard Suzanne Ciani's work, whether you knew it or not. Suzanne is a five-time Grammy award nominated composer, electronic music pioneer, and neo-classical recording artist whose work has been featured in countless commercials, video games, and feature films. A self-taught pianist with classical music training from The Longy School of Music and Wellesley College, Suzanne discovered electronic music in the late 60s and quickly became immersed in the male-dominated worlds of sound synthesis and computer music. Differentiating herself from contemporaries like Brian Eno, Giorigio Moroder, and Klaus Schulze, Suzanne created sensual, feminine sounds that pulsed and flowed, with textures more akin to ocean waves than to the dark atmosphere common in early electronic music. With her instrument of choice, the Buchla modular synthesizer, Suzanne revolutionized the advertising industry, and her sounds were featured in spots for General Electric, ABC, and AT&T, amongst many others. Perhaps her most famous piece, the Coca-Cola "Pop n' Pour" sound effect, was featured in hundreds of Coca-Cola commercials throughout the 70s and 80s. In the 90s, Suzanne transitioned from synthesizers back to the piano and formed her own record label, Seventh Wave. Over the course of her 30+ year career, she's released 15 solo albums, including "Seven Waves," "The Velocity of Love," "Turning," the Grammy Award nominated "Neverland," and most recently, the electronic retrospective, "Lixiviation." She's been recognized as Keyboard Magazine's "New Age Keyboardist of the Year," provided the voice and sounds for Bally's groundbreaking "Xenon" pinball machine, played concerts all over the globe, and carved out a niche as one of the most creatively successful female composers in the world.

 A Life in Waves will be a biographical look at Suzanne’s dynamic and colorful career, from her earliest days learning the piano, to her multi-million dollar advertising ventures, to her innovations in the world of New Age music, to her recent connection with Finders Keepers records and re-acquaintance with her beloved Buchla synthesizer. More than this, the film will be a journey into Suzanne's mind, offering a feminine glimpse into the often-complicated worlds of composition, electronic music, and advertising. Utilizing a wealth of archival footage and Suzanne’s endless catalog of music, we'll create a nostalgic, visually-compelling look at one woman's journey, and the trials she had to overcome to succeed in a traditionally male-dominated art form.

Now in her sixties, Suzanne reflects on her life from her home on the beach, recalling a turbulent time in the 1960s, when a rapidly changing culture gave way to creative movements like electronic music. It was also during this time that she met and worked with Don Buchla, a man she calls "the consummate designer of electronic instruments." Flash forward a few years and she remembers herself in New York, sleeping on friend Philip Glass's floor, going from studio to studio with her blinking, metal machine in tow, searching for an opportunity to record her music. A hugely successful advertising venture would follow, along with a bout with breast cancer, several Grammy nominations, concerts across the globe, the establishment of her own record label, and a retreat to the coast of Northern California where she finds herself today. Despite the ups and downs, Suzanne reflects on these events with an ever-romantic, often philosophical tone, always connecting the waves in her music to the waves in her life.

We've started digging through Suzanne's archives, and have converted several of her analog tapes to digital, but there's still so much to do! We're hoping to raise a minimum of $38,500 through Kickstarter to assist with the initial major production costs of the film. We will utilize every dollar donated to complete the film, from initial travel, to filming, to post production. Some of the larger expenses are as follows:

Production: This includes cinematography, sound recording, equipment rental, and any other fees incurred during the production.

Travel: A large portion of our production costs relate to travel. We'll travel to Suzanne's home in Northern California, spend time filming with her, and follow her to a piano concert in a yet-to-be-determined location in the United States. Costs include flight, accommodations, car rental and gas.

Post-Production: This includes editing, sound design/mix, and color grading.

Graphics: We'll commission motion graphics artists and animators to create stunning graphics to accompany Suzanne's descriptions of sound and synthesizer functions.

If you're able to pledge, we'd love to have you as a part of the film. But even if you can't, you can help us out by spreading the word on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media. You can click the links below to share right now.

Brett Whitcomb
Brett has directed three feature documentaries, including The Rock-afire Explosion, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and County Fair, Texas. His second feature, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling premiered at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival in 2012, was named Best Documentary at Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, awarded Audience Choice Best Documentary at Sidewalk Moving Picture Film Festival, and won the Grand Jury Award at the Gasparilla International Film Festival.

Bradford Thomason
Bradford has written, edited, and scored three feature documentaries, including The Rock-afire Explosion, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and County Fair, Texas. He's also provided music and editing for a number of short documentaries, and has maintained a successful commercial career, editing content for Time Inc., and Travel + Leisure Magazine.

Money Mark
Mark Ramos Nishita (aka Money Mark) is a producer and musician who has collaborated with the Beastie Boys on every album since 1992's "Check Your Head." He has released several solo albums and has worked with everyone from David Byrne, to The Rolling Stones, to Lee “Scratch” Perry. Mark recently performed with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in "Stop the Virgens;" a psycho pop opera at the Sydney Opera House.

Amy Storkel
Amy is a filmmaker who has been involved in several award-winning and commercially successful films. For her, story is king, and she loves to tell interesting stories in a compelling way, whether that be via documentary or narrative form. Amy is the producer of Holy Rollers, which won over 10 best documentary awards and sold to Warner Bros. Among other projects that are currently in production, she recently signed on to produce a 30 for 30 episode for ESPN.

Lawrence Everson
Lawrence is an award-winning sound editor and re-recording mixer specializing in documentary films. His past work includes 45365 (Independent Sprit Award, Grand Jury SXSW), Tchoupitoulas (Grand Jury Ashland, Hot Docs Emerging Artist Award), Fight Church (Grand Jury Boston), Caucas (AFI Docs Closing Night Film), in addition to collaborating with Brett and Brad on their previous projects: GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and County Fair, Texas. A Mill Valley native himself, he is looking forward to working within the audio-rich environment of Suzanne Ciani and everything she has brought to the world of music and sound.

Ali Clark

Ali is an award-winning motion graphics designer and cinematographer with an extensive commercial resume. Currently working at Big Communications (2013 AdAge Small Agency of the Year Southeast Gold), she’s also created work for Time Inc., SouthernLiving.com, CookingLight.com, Whole Foods, Kraft, and Publix. She received a Southeast Regional EMMY Award nomination for her stop-motion title sequence on Alabama Public Televisions’s "Journey Proud."  She also directed and animated the titles for the documentary Skanks (Slamdance 2014) and provided additional photography and graphics for the documentary, County Fair, Texas.

Brett Whitcomb and Bradford Thomason have collaborated on three feature-length documentaries, including The Rock-afire Explosion, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and County Fair, Texas.

The Rock-afire Explosion, a film that chronicles the rise and fall of Showbiz Pizza Place, played at over thirty film festivals worldwide and received extensive media coverage, including articles in Spin magazine, VH-1’s Best Week Ever blog, USA Today: Pop Candy, Film Threat, and Wired magazine.

GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling tells the story of the first-ever all female wrestling show on television. GLOW premiered at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival in 2012, played to sold out crowds in Los Angeles, New York, and London, and was awarded Best Documentary at Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, and Audience Choice Best Documentary at Sidewalk Moving Picture Film Festival. GLOW also received universal praise, with write-ups in /Film, The Village Voice, Gawker, and LA Weekly. The film was also sold for television distribution to MTV/VIACOM networks, and is currently available for viewing on Netflix. 

Brett and Bradford's latest film, County Fair, Texas, is an observational documentary that explores a year in the lives of four kids from rural Texas as they raise animals to show at a local county fair. The film was recently submitted to festivals world-wide.

Risks and challenges

From development, to completion, to reaching a wide audience, there are always risks associated with producing an independent film. With three feature documentaries under our belts, we embark on A Life in Waves with experience and an earned understanding of production and distribution. As with our previous films, we plan to submit A Life in Waves to film festivals all over the world, and will seek global digital and television distribution.

We want to finish this film as soon as we possibly can, but there may be production delays along the way because of interview scheduling and Suzanne's tour schedule.

This may in turn delay the expected delivery for rewards. If this happens, we will be sure to update our backers every step of the way.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    THANK YOU - A very sincere thank you on our Facebook PLUS you will be included in our optional mailing list so you can keep up with our progress.

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    DIGITAL SOUNDTRACK - We will send straight to your inbox a pre-release digital download of the film's amazing soundtrack + a digital thanks via Facebook, email, and our website.

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    POST CARD and BUTTON - You'll receive an exclusive post card and limited edition Suzanne Ciani button + the digital soundtrack + a digital thanks via Facebook, email, and our website.

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    STREAMING LINK – You'll be the very FIRST to receive a pre-release streaming link of the film PLUS everything above.

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    DVD – You'll be the FIRST to receive a pre-release SIGNED DVD (Hard Copy) of the finished film, upon completion. PLUS everything above.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    THE ROCK­AFIRE EXPLOSION VHS - You will receive an ultra-rare, very limited VHS copy of Brett and Bradford's first film, “The Rock­afire Explosion” designed and created by VHShitfest. This reward is exclusively for kickstarter backers, and will not be offered again. PLUS everything above.

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    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    SIGNED MOVIE POSTER -­ You'll receive the official movie poster (18 x 24), signed by Suzanne Ciani. We do not have an image of the movie poster yet, but trust us, it's going to be amazing. PLUS a signed DVD + pre-release streaming link of the film + the pre-release digital soundtrack + digital thanks via email and Facebook.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    LIXIVIATION LP - You'll receive a SIGNED copy of Suzanne's first release on Finder Keepers records, LIXIVIATION on glorious vinyl. Lixiviation complies Ciani's commercial experiments and early synth pieces, complete with extended liner notes and beautiful packaging courtesy of Finders Keepers Records UK. PLUS everything above (minus the Rock-afire VHS).

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    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    MOVIE CREDIT -­ Your name on the BIG SCREEN. You’ll be immortalized on the DVD of the film & theatrical film credits. PLUS everything above (minus the Rock-afire VHS).

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    SYNTH FAN CD BUNDLE SIGNED ­- Here we have SIGNED CD copies of “Seven Waves” and “The Velocity of Love” from Suzanne’s personal collection. PLUS movie credit + signed DVD + pre-release streaming link of the film + the pre-release digital soundtrack + digital thanks via email and Facebook.

    (CDs will ship in time for Christmas 2014)

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    PIANO FAN CD BUNDLE SIGNED - Here we have SIGNED CD copies of “Turning,” “Silver Ship,” and “Pianissimo II” from Suzanne’s personal collection. PLUS movie credit + signed DVD + pre-release streaming link of the film + the pre-release digital soundtrack + digital thanks via email and Facebook. (CDs will ship in time for Christmas 2014)

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    Pledge $130 or more About $130

    DVD x 3 - A DVD copy of A Life in Waves signed by Suzanne Ciani PLUS you'll receive a DVD of Brett and Bradford's first two films: The Rock-afire Explosion (rare out of print DVD copy) & GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling on DVD. PLUS a signed movie poster + movie credit + a pre-release streaming link of the film + the pre-release digital soundtrack + digital thanks via email and Facebook.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    ANALOG HEAVEN ­ - You will receive a Kickstarter exclusive, one-sided, SIGNED Atari Liberator 7” VINYL picture disc from Finders Keepers Records. You'll also receive an original SIGNED CASSETTE copy of “The Velocity Love” PLUS The Rock-afire Explosion on VHS. PLUS you'll receive a signed DVD + signed movie poster + movie credit + a pre-release streaming link of the film + the pre-release digital soundtrack + digital thanks via email and Facebook.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    VINTAGE T-SHIRT (Size - Large) - VERY rare ORIGINAL (not re­prints) vintage Suzanne Ciani Seven Waves T-Shirts (check out an image of the T-­Shirt under the rewards section). PLUS a signed DVD + signed movie poster + movie credit + a pre-release streaming link of the film + the pre-release digital soundtrack + digital thanks via email and Facebook.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    VINTAGE T-SHIRT (Size - Medium) - VERY rare ORIGINAL (not re­prints) vintage Suzanne Ciani Seven Waves T-Shirts (check out an image of the T-­Shirt under the rewards section). PLUS a signed DVD + signed movie poster + movie credit + a pre-release streaming link of the film + the pre-release digital soundtrack + digital thanks via email and Facebook.

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    GIANT DIGITAL BUNDLE – You'll receive the following CDs and DVDs from Suzanne's personal collection:

    CDS: Seven Waves, The Velocity of Love, Pianissimo II and III, Dream Suite, Suzanne Ciani and the Wave: Live, Turning, Meditations, Pure Romance, Silver Ship.

    DVDS: Natura Poetica, Suzanne Ciani and the Wave: Live, Galapagos: A Musical Odyssey.

    If you donate at this level, you'll also receive a personal, postcard message from Suzanne with your bundle. PLUS a signed DVD + signed movie poster + movie credit + a pre-release streaming link of the film + the pre-release digital soundtrack + digital thanks via email and Facebook.

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    Pledge $550 or more About $550

    CONSULTATION – We'll share the things we've learned about documentary filmmaking, cameras, editing, post­production, trailer-making, budgeting, and getting an independent documentary off the ground. You've got us booked for 2 hours! Brett and Brad will give you feedback on your documentary, your script or treatment, and hard-earned advice on moving your project forward. PLUS a signed DVD + signed movie poster + movie credit + a pre-release streaming link of the film + the pre-release digital soundtrack + digital thanks via email and Facebook.

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    PRIVATE SCREENING WITH Q & A - Use your DVD or your own private link to host a screening for all of your friends! We'll provide postcards and party favors for your guests, plus our virtual attendance - Brett, Bradford and Suzanne will call in for a Q & A on the phone or Skype. PLUS a signed DVD + signed movie poster + movie credit + a pre-release streaming link of the film + the pre-release digital soundtrack + digital thanks via email and Facebook.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    TICKETS TO OUR PREMIERE ­- You'll receive two tickets to our world premiere and get to hang with the filmmakers and Suzanne following the screening! (Travel and lodging not included). PLUS you'll receive a signed DVD + signed movie poster + movie credit + a pre-release streaming link of the film + the pre-release digital soundtrack + digital thanks via email and Facebook.

    **Please note: We plan on finishing the film late 2015, so the film will likely premiere in early 2016. (You will be responsible for your own travel/accommodations if needed).

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    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER CREDIT - (Film + IMDb) - Welcome to the team! You will receive a credit as Associate Producer. Your name will be forever etched into the end credits of the film as well as on IMDB and the movie poster. PLUS EVERYTHING above (minus the vintage T-Shirt).

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    Pledge $4,000 or more About $4,000

    SUZANNE LIVE - Suzanne will perform a private concert for you and your closest friends at the location of your choosing! This could be your wedding, birthday, or private party (You will also be responsible for Suzanne's travel and accommodations). PLUS EVERYTHING above (minus the vintage T-Shirt).
    **This reward and price is exclusive to this Kickstarter campaign and does not reflect Suzanne's standard booking price.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CREDIT - (Film + IMDb) - Welcome to the team! You will receive a credit as Executive Producer. Your name will be forever etched into the end credits of the film as well as on IMDB and the movie poster. PLUS EVERYTHING above (minus the vintage T-Shirt).

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Funding period

- (30 days)