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A Clockwork sci-fi film of forbidden love and revenge, inspired by a 19th-century Lord Byron poem and told in hybrid puppet animation
A Clockwork sci-fi film of forbidden love and revenge, inspired by a 19th-century Lord Byron poem and told in hybrid puppet animation
333 backers pledged $29,370 to help bring this project to life.

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Amazing Developments over the past year!

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Hello Backers! It has been a busy year for a number of reasons and we wanted to update you on what's been going on.

Regarding "Monster" we've finished all the puppets and sets and shot the last of the film. We spent a week in Portland early fall of last year shooting Sky's wedding scene and final battle. "Monster" is now in post-production.

Sam also featured "Monster" as part of an amazing filmmakers talk at Brooklyn Academy of Music last October as part of the Jim Henson Foundation's Puppets on Film Festival. Here is a link - Sam's part starts at 1:31:00: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSZ8JKu-NKY

As many of you know, we've also had the amazing opportunity to make Sam's original short film "Yamasong" into a feature film! This will be the first puppet feature film in North America in 10 years ("Team America" was the last)! Working with the same creative team, including two of our top Kickstarter backers (thank you KICKSTARTER and BACKERS!!), we have been working all year to write the script, build the puppets, sets and props, shoot and post the feature. It's potentially a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we've attracted amazing talent to the film - Nathan Fillion, Abigail Breslin, Whoopi Goldberg, Freida Pinto, George Takei, Malcolm McDowell, Peter Weller, Bruce Davison and Ed Asner to the voice cast!!

Official "Yamasong" movie poster
Official "Yamasong" movie poster

Here is the "Yamasong: March of the Hollows" sizzle trailer:

https://vimeo.com/126826275

We are deep in shooting and early post on the "Yamasong" feature. The plan now is we return to "Monster" as "Yamasong" winds down later this year. Sam has even referred to future possibilities for both projects in this SF Signal interview two weeks ago: 

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015/05/interview-sam-koji-hale-upcoming-puppet-feature-film-yamasong-march-hollows/

We hope you'll be patient about "Monster of the Sky" and cheer us on as we crank away at "Yamasong". Both films are a passion for the director and our team and we hope to get both out to the world in 2016! As always, thank you for your encouragement and support.

- The "Monster" Team!

What we've accomplished so far!

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A determined Sky shot on greenscreen.
A determined Sky shot on greenscreen.
Sky looks out a gear window on her wedding day.
Sky looks out a gear window on her wedding day.
Puppeteers make the Prince fly!
Puppeteers make the Prince fly!
One of the first images of the film - a giant stranger discovers an empty helmet.
One of the first images of the film - a giant stranger discovers an empty helmet.
Clockwork ghosts float in the river of time.
Clockwork ghosts float in the river of time.
Our introduction of Sky comes via a projector in space.
Our introduction of Sky comes via a projector in space.

Hello, backers! I'm sorry it's been a while since the last update, but I'm hoping I can catch you up on what's going on with "Monster of the Sky".

First, much has been happening with my puppets and films this year, and I have YOU to thank for propelling my work forward. Through your support on Kickstarter, many wonderful things have been happening (read on for details).

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me catch you up on "Monster of the Sky" - we are now in post-production on the film. Summer was busy finishing the puppets, props and sets and in September we shot the last of the scenes, both in L.A. (Sky battle and aftermath) and Portland (Sky and Prince Tanab's wedding and wedding crashing). Now I am editing the shots together to see how the film plays assembled.

I will be meeting with my post-production supervisor in January to discuss how to break up the shot assignments and push toward finishing the film. The goal is definitely to finish the film in 2015.

I've also talked to one of our composers and he's expressed his support in creating new music to round out the current soundtrack (which is a few minutes short). So instead of looping music over and over, he will expand the soundscape to fit the cut! Very exciting!!

As for how YOU have helped this project, in addition to enabling me to make all the puppets, sets, buy software for the facial motion capture R&D, pay a small part-time crew, your support has raised interest in the work overall. As I'd announced at last November's puppet filmmaker's symposium in Brooklyn, we now have the funding and backing of Dark Dunes Productions to make the "Yamasong" feature film!! THIS IS HUGE NEWS!

You may not be aware, but a (non-Muppet) puppet feature film hasn't been made in North America in a decade (not since "Team America")! Your support of "Monster" has helped us to get support for "Yamasong". And that's a win-win for us all.

I'd love to share developments with both projects in the year to come, and please jump over to Facebook and like the "Yamasong" film page. There are amazing puppet photos posted already with many announcements ahead!

https://www.facebook.com/YamasongOfficial

There is much happening between the "Yamasong" and "Monster" worlds and I hope you'll continue to follow developments in both projects! Many exciting things are coming for 2015!

Thank you again, and have a safe, joyful winter season.

Sam & "Monster" Team

Filmmaking Symposium at Brooklyn Academy of Music

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Hello backers! I hope this message finds you well!

I wanted to update you all about "Monster of the Sky" and share some exciting news!

"Monster" is now in post-production. We've shot all the principal footage and I am now editing and farming out post-production work. While the post-production will take time, the final results will be stunning, I promise!

I also wanted to let you know that I will be on a panel of puppet filmmakers in New York City next Saturday, Oct. 25th! We'll be talking about our filmmaking experience, offering advice and networking with attendees - it's a one-of-a-kind gathering, featuring myself, Toby Froud ("Lessons Learned"), Kevin McTurk ("Narrative of Victor Karloch"), Genevieve Anderson ("Too Loud A Solitude") and the amazing Heather Henson, who created the Handmade Puppet Dreams series to begin with and where we all got our puppet film start!

The event is part of next weekends Puppets on Film Festival, sponsored by Jim Henson Foundation and BAM Cinematek.

Visit this link to find out more information:

http://www.bam.org/classes/2014/handmade-puppet-dreams-filmmaking-symposium

I'll be showing new footage from "Monster of the Sky" plus never-before-seen behind the scenes shots from my first short "Yamasong" as well. Hope to see you there!

Cool News! - UNIMA Citation of Excellence

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Hello "Monster" backers! I wanted to share some news - not about "Monster of the Sky", but of my first short film "Yamasong." It received the UNIMA Citation of Excellence in Puppetry Arts, or the "Uni", which is considered in the puppetry field one of the highest honors a puppet project can receive! Prominent puppeteers in the field like Julie Taymor, Basil Twist, Ronnie Burkett, Phillip Huber and others have received this prestigious honor. I'm humbled and honored to be a part of this small group of artists!

I also look forward to carrying this level of excellence in to "Monster of the Sky". Stay tuned...

Next week watch for news on the full-scale dragonfly puppet/set piece (it's got a 12' wingspan!) and the eunuch priest who marries our two main characters, Sky and Prince Tanab. The priest is in the able hands of our costumer Ayumi and the dragonfly is ready for a paint job!

More "Monster" news soon. Take care!

Sam

Summer is here and it brings - progress!

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Hello Backers 333! It's been a crazy, but productive summer. A lot is happening with "Monster of the Sky" and I wanted to catch up you on the film's progress:

We shot two parts of the film in June, Sky in a cavern under her world at the start of the story, and the clockwork ghosts who rescue her mid-story. Here is a still of ghosts shot with all the lighting, water particles, etc. in place. It's moody, and supposed to be in a silty, dirty river - ideally, my dream would be to shoot in a real silty river bottom, but we went with the sensible approach (considering our budget) - shooting the ghosts on greenscreen, with a fan blowing, shot in slow motion to create the feeling of being in the water.

I also had the chance to visit Portland last month (for Toby Froud's "Lessons Learned" premiere, which I helped produce - an awesome coming out for this new amazing puppet filmmaker! Some of you may know him? )

http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/arts-and-entertainment/culturephile-portland-arts/articles/toby-froud-s-new-puppet-film-returns-us-to-the-magical-world-of-labyrinth-june-2014

While in Portland I visited my trusty, truly amazing set builder Charles Daniels. He's been building away on the flying palace for the wedding mid-story and then Sky's return for vengeance in the end of the story. He showed me NOT a tiny, little set as we'd initially discussed, BUT a MONSTER set, worthy of a film called "Monster of the Sky"! It took up a whole room in his house, measuring 11' x 13' - it's going to be GLORIOUS to shoot in! Check out all his gears, and staircase, and various amazing shapes and forms that will make the palace for Sky's wedding:

All of this and more have been because of your support! This set would not be coming to fruition without your backing!

Another big component of finishing this film is the facial motion tracking. We're using the software PFTrack to track the motion-capture performed digital faces on to the puppet footage... seamlessly! This allows us to get talking characters, facial expressions, all things to give the puppets more life and believability. Guess what? We're doing it! It's happening! And we are getting rock solid results! Here is a screen grab of the facial tracking in progress:

I'm excited at our results! I can't wait to share more with you.

So thank you again for believing in this project and helping us from the very beginning.  I know it's taking time, and patience (believe me! It's been hard for me too!), but we are seeing the results of all this investment and goodwill. It's been amazing to know you're out there rooting for this new creative work to emerge.

What's next for "Monster of the Sky"? Final prep for two BIG shoots in August - one in L.A. and one in Portland. We're going to wrap up this shoot and get everything completely into post-production. Things are moving forward and I can't wait to share more news as it develops!

Best wishes until next time,

Sam