$7,590
pledged of $25,000pledged of $25,000 goal
39
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Mon, July 29 2013 11:02 PM UTC +00:00
John JaquishBy John Jaquish
First created
John JaquishBy John Jaquish
First created
$7,590
pledged of $25,000pledged of $25,000 goal
39
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Mon, July 29 2013 11:02 PM UTC +00:00

About

Thank you dearly to all those who've supported this project -- it really means a lot to us!

And to everyone else -- we're still making this film and we still need your help! You can still support us through our website for the same rewards described here (or even follow us on Facebook). So, please follow our progress and help make this film happen!

www.armsandthemanfilm.com

Set in rural Appalachia, and loosely based on real events, our story centers on Lowell, the man who refused to give in to the authorities over the possession of a gun, and subsequently had an exchange of gunfire with the local sheriff and his deputies. A companion of Lowell’s, Aloysius, took a bullet in the affray and along with a third member, Jim Burd, they flee to the farm of Abner, an aging veterinarian and former preacher.

This is where our film begins. This ragged crew appears on Abner’s property and after inviting themselves into the house, Lowell coerces Abner into operating on Aloysius. Abner reluctantly consents, and removes the bullet from Aloysius, just as the police arrive on the property. The sheriff demands that Lowell and his gang give up their weapons sociably, but Lowell refuses to give in, exchanging various threats with the sheriff out the window of the farmhouse. Meanwhile, Jim Burd, a sort of backwoods tinkerer, shuts himself in the basement and collects various household chemicals for a batch of blackpowder and fashions a canon from an iron sewer pipe and other supplies. As the altercation between Lowell and the sheriff reaches a fever pitch, Jim Burd emerges from the basement with his canon and belches out a blast of hellfire from one of the windows, sending the sheriff and his deputies scattering off the property, realizing they’ll need a stronger force to quell Lowell’s mini-insurrection.

Lowell and his gang celebrate their victory, but now must decide what to do next. Lowell places a call to the press to announce their victory against the Sheriff and the fact they’ve taken over Abner’s farm.

Shortly afterwards, a mysterious figure arrives on the property atop a motorcycle. Greeting Lowell, we find that he’s an old friend by the name of Michael and claims to be Lowell’s “legal advisor.” He’s apparently learned, standing in contrast to the others in that respect, but still an obvious social outcast with a mischievous side, and so is welcomed with open arms. Michael is Lowell’s most trusted friend, and through the course of the story, becomes the Mephistopheles to Lowell’s Faust, pushing his decisions to the extreme. He convinces Lowell that they must stay on the farm, form an independent society and arm themselves against the authorities.

After a pair of brothers enter the farm and claim allegiance to Lowell’s cause, the gang set immediately to the formation of their independent “state.” They make preparations for gardening and farming their own food, as well as building arms. Being limited on firearms, Jim Burd fashions spears to be used as a last resort. They survey the land, draw up a map, and mark possible points of entry, covering every detail in the case of an invasion.

Meanwhile, Abner is more or less held as a prisoner of his own home, despite Lowell’s belief that Abner is on their side, a part of the team. He brushes off Abner’s appeals to reason.

During the course of these events, Aloysius begins to resent Lowell’s nascent position of authority. He begins to undermine Lowell’s position, encouraging defiance against Lowell by the brothers in addition to his own.

If Lowell can’t keep order among his most trusted and only companions, how can he deal with the approaching threat of the authorities to quell their uprising? Can Lowell achieve true independence and order on the farm, or will his whole plan collapse in on him?

What? Where the hell did this come from?

Well, it was really quite logical. My intention was to write something that could be shot on an ultra low budget, and take place in one location. Living in southwestern Pennsylvania (northern Appalachia), I’m surrounded by farmland, and through various filmmaking ventures, was fortunate enough to gain access to a large farm and old farmhouse. 

So, the question was…what happens? Well, hell, a bunch of guys take it over (a la the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in The Wild One) and cause all sorts of havoc. But…why are they there? Well…they’re trying to form an independent society and secede from the U.S. The inspiration from the true account regarding the gun possession angle seemed to complete the equation, acting as the story’s catalyst.

I’ve shot my last three short films on film (two in color Super 16mm and the third on black-and-white 35mm) and my conviction is that from now on, I want to tell stories that somehow, could really only be told on the medium of film. So, this was an impetus to generate an idea strong enough that this story must be told on film. Also, I’ve done some black-white photography, so I’m very comfortable with the black-and-white film process, and always envisioned this story in black-and-white from its very conception.

Most of the films I watch are older films in black-and-white, and it allows the viewer to focus on the characters and the situation, rather than the colored visuals per se. It also lends the image a look of stark realism when handled naturalistically, and it's a callback to the era of classic films when black-and-white was the motion picture industry standard.

Of course, this means paying for film stock, processing and transfer costs. Although, my experience with shooting both digitally and recently with film, is that you tend to be much more careful with what you record on film (you can virtually hear the dollars running through the camera), so you:

  • Make sure when you start recording, you know exactly what you need and
  • Shoot less, so your post-production is more streamlined. Of course, things always get cut, which is part of filmmaking, but you tend to save costs in post-production with the amount of time spent editing.

Second, I realized that in order to pull this story off to its fullest, there must be as much an element of realism as possible... Meaning shooting in an authentic place and with some people who could conceivably attempt to do something like what’s portrayed in the film.

To achieve this it means:

  • Shooting on location in rural Appalachia
  • Casting local non-professional actors
  • Using real, practical effects on set rather than digital effects added in post-production

I discovered in shooting my last short film, Day of the Heist, that mixing the cast with experienced actors and non-professional actors, the latter of which being interesting people with real-life experiences, lends the production an air of realism. We’ll be employing this tactic for Arms and the Man. So, we’re in the process of casting locally – some people of whom I’ve known previously, or run into at some time in the past. We’re also auditioning professional actors for some roles that would fit.

Finally, we’ll be using practical special effects when needed. This means no digital effects of any sort– in fact, the only thing digital will be the HD transfer of the film stock for editing. The difference between a gun being fired with a blank on set versus a “muzzle flash” being added digitally in post-production is greatly apparent. The former allows the actor to react realistically, and also provides the necessary smoke from the discharge. 

We’ll actually be constructing and using the firearms the characters make in the story (taking the necessary safety precautions, of course). I’ve used firearms with blanks in my last two short films, and you can see the realism this lends the image.

Why Kickstarter?

I decided to start a Kickstarter campaign for a variety of reasons. First, although I’ve been making short films since I was twelve, I’ve never made a feature film before. So, my fundraising options are limited to friends and family. I have no access to or contacts with foreign sales agents, distributors, or anyone involved in the distribution of films. Basically, what I do have is an excellent and novel idea, a great script that I’ve been hammering away at furiously over the past year, over a decade of first-hand experience with low-budget filmmaking, the last few years being exclusively with film over digital, and a rabid hunger to make a great low-budget independent feature film.

Second, the approach to this film is highly experimental (albeit in a calculated way on my part), specifically with using non-professional actors in an intense atmosphere, and shooting on black-and-white with an ultra low budget. It takes none of the cues of what’s recommended for a “commercial product” (i.e. using actors with name recognition; shooting in color; aiming at a specific, easily definable genre), except having an excellent script.

What exactly will you be doing with this money?

Every cent raised through Kickstarter will be on the screen. This means you as a backer will be able to see directly the results of your support.

I thought it best not to put up a Kickstarter campaign for the entire budget of the film, so I decided to limit funds to just one area of production; and, since film is of course a visual medium -- why not just the visuals? 

Specifically, these funds will be used for:

  • Film Stock & Processing.  As I said before, I've learned by shooting film, how to shoot film cheaply. Which doesn't mean cutting corners, but just being efficient. First, black-and-white film stock is half as expensive as color stock. Second, I'll be negotiating bulk orders from film stock manufacturers and labs, with which I've already formed contacts by my past filmmaking ventures. So, the cost for film stock and processing will probably be about the same or less than the cost of rental of a digital cinema package.
  • Props and Art Direction. These funds will be directly apparent on screen, from the makeup, wardrobe, sets (I'm still thinking on a small scale here with found locations), and the props constructed by the characters in the film. These are the textures of the film, and without them, you're shooting just a blank palette. The believability of a film, and hence its visceral experience, is only as good as its art direction.

What fun is it in contributing to a visual medium if your funds go into an invisible cost like insurance, food, or overhead? Of course, these costs are necessary to a certain extent, which is why I'll have to seek additional funds outside of Kickstarter, but for a film at this budget, we'll be working at the bare minimum of costs so most of the budget will actually be on screen.

The pre-production legwork has already been covered, and will continue to be covered by a small level of personal funds (i.e. all the funds that I personally have). Additionally, these funds will not cover the full post-production costs. We’ll need to seek further funds at that stage. Basically, I’m trying to ensure we can get this film through production and “in the can.” I spent my savings on a small 35mm camera package. It’s a thirty-year old Arriflex camera, the same model that’s shot some of the best films ever made. I shot my last short film on it, and it’s proven dependable. Despite its age, it’s a workhorse. So, camera gear is covered.

http://kickingitforward.org

"Arms and the Man" featured in MovieMaker Magazine!

Even if you can't support us financially, please share this page with others or 'like' us on Facebook to get updates on the project!

Risks and challenges

I've never shot a film that went seamlessly without some unexpected event popping up. Some are a matter of planning in pre-production, some which could never be planned for. But both I've learned to deal with, the first through proper planning, and the second by training intuition to handle a situation in the moment and think on my feet when shooting. This is why I've self-produced and financed all my previous work, so that when it came time to take on a project with the financial interest of other people involved, I would have the experience to problem solve, which I believe now to be the greatest quality a filmmaker could have.

That said, the greatest risks involved with this production are those I've not faced before: raising the necessary funds to complete a project of this scope. Aside from getting artistic grants, I've always used my own funds to support my work. However, I believe that with the support of a completed Kickstarter goal, it will provide my fundraising efforts the inertia to obtain the necessary funds to get through production.

Aside from the risks associated with any film production, I have no concern about the creative risks involved. I've spent the past year developing this project, so I have the deepest understanding of the story and characters. And I've spent the past fifteen years training with short films to be prepared for an undertaking of this capacity.

Finally, I'm not working alone. I've developed the deepest trust in and respect for the people that will be joining me in this undertaking, and in my experience, are the best at what they do.

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    Welcome aboard as a credited ASSOCIATE PRODUCER -- see your name in large print in the credits at the end of the film and on IMDb. PLUS, take home your choice of a central prop used in 'Arms and the Man.' That's right! We want you to have your choice in grabbing anything unique on set ranging from: the original map created in the film, drawn on butcher paper with charcoal, the hand-sewn flag of their new-found territory, or even a piece of the homemade canon (just a piece -- we can't have the law come down on us for selling firearms) that we're going to build on-set. Plus you’ll receive: THE SUPER PACKAGE DEAL, a copy of the script and our production scrapbook.

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    Not only that, but we'll come to your home town or city and hold a private screening for you and your kin at a local theater (U.S. only). Plus you'll receive all previous awards (THE SUPER PACKAGE DEAL, a copy of the script, our on-set scrapbook, your choice of a prop, and a strip of film out-take).

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    Hell! Pull up a chair. You’ll receive an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit in the film and on IMDb, and our everlasting gratitude.

    Not only that, but the cast and crew will come take over your house for the wrap party (drinks on us). Or, if you don't want a group of ruffians trouncing through your place, we'll go somewhere else of your choosing, at our expense.

    Plus all previous awards (THE SUPER PACKAGE DEAL, a copy of the script, our on-set scrapbook, your choice of a prop, and a strip of film out-take).

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Funding period

- (30 days)