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May 1942. Japanese American internment has just begun. And a California nurse is trying to save an elderly Japanese couple in hiding.
165 backers pledged $23,000 to help bring this project to life.
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$23,000

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"TSURU is a unique take on the internment story... We need more stories in our Japanese American library, and TSURU promises to be a good one."   

- Gil Asakawa, Nikkeiview

TSURU Article, Discover Nikkei

TSURU Article, My Big Apple NY

TSURU Article, Asian American Press

The support we have received from everyone is remarkable. Words can't express how excited we are.

BUT WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP!

We are more focused than ever. Now the question is, HOW MANY STRETCH GOALS CAN WE ACHIEVE? Through your love and support, we can take this film to the next level. Let's keep the ball rolling! 

Here are the stretch goals:

  • ACHIEVED! $16,500 - PROP UPGRADE! We will be able to pay for props at a student discount from the Universal Studios lot.
  • ACHIEVED! $18,000 - COSTUME UPGRADE! We will be able to rent authentic 1940's costumes from Western Costume Company. 
  • ACHIEVED! $20,000 - PROFESSIONAL MUSIC RECORDING! We will be able to rent a discounted professional recording studio for a day to record our phenomenal cellist Christopher DeFazio, winner of the Pasadena Showcase House Competition - Strings Category. For more information, CLICK HERE
  • $23,000 - FILM FESTIVALS OVERSEAS / HELP US FILM AT THE ACTUAL MANZANAR INTERNMENT CAMP! We will be able to take TSURU to film festivals in other countries. This potentially includes Japan, France, Canada, Italy, and Germany. AND we will be able to potentially film at MANZANAR NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE, the location of the actual Manzanar War Relocation Center.

Tsuru takes place during WWII in May of 1942 - a time of serious racial prejudice. As over 120,000 Japanese Americans are being evacuated and forcibly interned by the U.S. Government, an elderly Japanese couple, the Ikedas, are in hiding, residing in a neglected shack in the middle of a California canyon. Mariko, the wife, is doing her best to keep her ill husband Yoshio in good health.

Their lifeline? A young American nurse. Giving them the supplies, food, and medicine needed to survive. As another wave of Japanese Americans are being evacuated, suspicions arise when FBI agents and military personnel are unable to find the Ikeda couple.

We will be shooting the entire film in BLACK AND WHITE. We do this for two reasons:

1) We want to resemble the films of the era. We want to be as true to the time period as possible.
2) And we want to strip away the color - accentuate the bleakness of what our characters are experiencing.

One of the main themes throughout the film is the tsuru - “crane". As a symbol of long life and good luck, tsuru is used in the story as a gesture of gratitude from character to character. (The term "tsuru” is also part of my middle name “Tsuruo,” a name passed down to me from my grandfather.)

Despite the climate of racial discrimination and wartime hysteria, there were sympathizers who risked public scorn and even physical danger to defend and support the Japanese. Tsuru presents this perspective along with a unique Japanese American perspective - that of hideaways - to approach the narrative from multiple points of view.

Overall...

We are interested in using the resources we have to tell a story that will aid in bringing awareness to the incarceration of Japanese Americans. 

We are interested in following characters isolated both physically and socially.

And we are interested in exploring issues of intolerance, civil rights, and the responsibilities of citizenship in our increasingly global society.

As so eloquently put by Michi Nishiura Weglyn in her book Years of Infamy, 

"...we hope this uniquely American story will serve as a reminder to all those who cherish their liberties of the very fragility of their rights against the exploding passions of their more numerous fellow citizens, and as a warning that they who say that it can never happen again are probably wrong."

Tsuru is my senior-year project at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. As a Japanese-American, I feel this is a very personal story - a story in which I finally get to put years of learning into a project that exemplifies a part of my heritage. My brother, Timothy Bright, and I wrote the script together. We have gathered an incredible cast and crew we are very excited to work with...

Playing the role of Mariko is TAKAYO FISCHER (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Moneyball). Takayo was a former incarceree of Fresno Assembly Center in California, and Jerome and Rohwer Camps in Arkansas. The role of Yoshio will be played by KEN TAKEMOTO (Transformers: Dark of the Moon). Ellis will be played by NICOLE STARRETT. And James Fitzgerald will be played by MICHAEL TOMSU.

And our talented CREW...

Producer:  MOLLY MCKELLAR
Director of Photography: BEN FISCHINGER
Production Designer: TRACI HAYS
Editor: PAUL IONA
Sound Designer: MICHELLE LIN
Music Composer: KEVIN SEBASTIAN HOMMA

Despite receiving professional equipment from Chapman, telling this story requires over $23,000

This will allow us to:
-secure a location at the prestigious Canyon Ranch Studio
-cover accommodation and travel costs
-pay for insurance
-rent two 1940s trucks
-rent additional camera and sound equipment
-rent a generator truck
-feed the cast and crew

We also have STRETCH GOALS. Please check them out at the top of the page!

Please become a part of our community! Every dollar counts and every penny is much appreciated. And help us by spreading our FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and Kickstarter pages far and wide.

For LARGER DONATIONS and more information on the film, check out our prospectus and feel free to pass it on: TSURU SHORT FILM PROSPECTUS

Let's share this story with the world!

Much love,
Chris

Risks and challenges

As with any film, we face many uphill battles to get our film made, and recreating the 1940s in 2014 is definitely one of them! However, we are excited to make this film, tell this story, and work with fantastic talent.

Once we go into production there's always the concern about locations or casting falling through and having to reschedule, but we have a great team on board! We don't anticipate this happening at all. We will get the film done and you will get you your backer rewards as promised!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    RECEIVE UPDATES! Get a detailed behind-the-scenes look at the creation of "Tsuru". We'll be posting photos, videos, and diary entries from our location scouts, casting, and filming.

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    SEE THE FILM! You get an HD digital download of the film the minute it's done + the above gifts.

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    39 backers
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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    GET THE SOUNDTRACK! You get a digital download of the film's soundtrack, composed by Kevin Sebastian Homma + all the above gifts.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    PARTY WITH US! You're invited to the "Tsuru" cast/crew wrap party + all the above gifts.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    OWN THE FILM! Receive a DVD of "Tsuru" + access to a SPECIAL EDITION PDF that documents our filming process from storyboarding to on-set production to final shots + an INVITE TO THE PREMIERE + all the above gifts.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    OWN THE BLU-RAY! Receive a blu-ray copy of the film signed by the director + 11x17 BLACK-AND-WHITE POSTER signed by the cast and crew + one of the HANDMADE PAPER CRANES from the set + all the above gifts.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    GET A LIMITED-EDITION FILM POSTER! Receive a signed 18x24 poster signed by the cast/crew + all the above gifts. Only the first 5 to claim this reward will get the poster!

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    Limited 7 backers
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    PRODUCTION OR POST-PRODUCTION PACKAGE! With the Production Package, you get a visit to the set of "Tsuru" while shooting and lunch with the cast and crew (travel costs not covered) + all the above gifts. With the Post-Production Package, you get a Skype meet & greet with the "Tsuru" post-production team, to include the director, editor, and producer + all the above gifts.

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

    EAT WITH US AND BE AN ASSOCIATE PRODUCER! Get an IMDb credit and be integral to the success of the film + You also get to spend an EVENING WITH THE FILMMAKERS in Little Tokyo + all the above gifts.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    BE AN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AND WALK THE CARPET! You will be the highest-ranking person on the film, get an IMDb credit, and be integral to the success of the film + join us for a film festival premiere of your choosing when the film comes out + all the above gifts.

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Funding period

- (35 days)