A New Way to Make Feature Films
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Here's How It Works
Welcome to our Kickstarter campaign! Here’s how it works: if we raise $48,000 or more by April 29th, we'll receive your pledge and immediately put it to work on screen to complete production of our new feature film, Wetware.
Your donation will help us rent camera, lights and costumes, hire first-class talent, acquire props, build two sets, and secure locations that help us create a distinctive world for our film.
Kickstarter will only charge your credit card if we meet or surpass that goal. It’s all or nothing. If we don’t reach our goal, we don’t get the funds. So we’re working hard to enlist people who support our new idea and this film. And we want everyone to have some fun doing it!
Donations are tax-deductible—Kingdom County Productions is a 501 © 3 arts non-profit. And if you have questions about the campaign, the film, or Movies from Marlboro, contact Jay Craven (email@example.com).
Please donate what you can - today - and share our Kickstarter link with friends and family!
Who Are We?
We’re a group of 32 students and 24 professionals. Our students come from12 colleges, including Marlboro College, Wellesley College, Mount Holyoke College, Sarah Lawrence College, Lyndon State College, Fitchburg State University, Wesleyan University, Simmons College, Colby-Sawyer College, Augsburg College, University of Maine, and the University of California at Berkeley.
Our professionals have earned Emmys and worked on films that earned Gotham and Sundance Awards, Academy Award nominations and many more. We’re all working to make Wetware, an ambitious noir thriller set in the near future. It will be based on Craig Nova’s novel that Washington Post critic Michael Dirda called, “A haunting, heart-stoppingly exciting, brilliantly structured novel of suspense, ideas, and subtle characterization.”
"Wetware" will be shot in Vermont and Nantucket—and it’s being produced through the Movies from Marlboro (MFM) film intensive semester, produced by arts non-profit Kingdom County Productions and Marlboro College. Previous films produced through our MFM program include an 1872 period drama, Peter and John (2014) based on the novel by Guy de Maupassant. It stars 2014 Golden Globe winner Jacqueline Bisset, Christian Coulson, Diane Guerrrero, Shane Patrick Kearns, and Emmy winner Gordon Clapp. And, in 2012, we produced Northern Borders based on the Howard Frank Mosher novel and starring Academy Award nominees Bruce Dern and Genevieve Bujold, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, and Tony nominee Jessica Hecht.
What’s the film about?
“Wetware” is a noir thriller set in a near future where people down on their luck apply for genetic modifications to take on jobs that nobody wants to do. With business booming, the programmers at Galapagos Wetware up the stakes by producing high-end prototypes for more sensitive jobs in space travel and deep cover espionage.
Galapagos chief genetic programmer Hal Briggs is sharp but he's impetuous, a socially awkward romantic in a transactional world. He keeps a genetically modified human clock at home and his altered "message mice" scurry under foot everywhere, hawking items ranging from candy and crackers to Miami vacations. But Briggs is under pressure to complete work on the genetic codes for his deluxe prototypes, adding qualities to Jack and, especially, Kay, to whom he develops a dangerous attachment.
Briggs' boss, Leslie Carr, has problems of her own. She navigates a thorny relationship with Wendell Blaine, Galapagos' lead investor and the region's chief prognosticator on all matters financial. But tensions mount when Carr and Blaine tangle over field-tests, deadlines, prototype specs...even dinner etiquette.
Then word gets out that Jack and Kay have escaped, before Briggs has completed his work. Where have Jack and Kay gone? What do they know? And will they survive the volatile world of street heavies and low-rent hotels? Briggs scrambles to track his fugitive prototypes and, as he reexamines Jack and Kay's codes, he makes a provocative discovery that will change everything.
Who will direct the film?
Wetware will be directed by award-winning independent filmmaker, Jay Craven whose credits include both Peter and John and Northern Borders. ALSO: Disappearances (w/ Kris Kristofferson, Charlie McDermott, Gary Farmer, William Sanderson); The Year That Trembled (w/ Jonathan Brandis, Fred Willard, Martin Mull, Henry Gibson, Marin Hinkle); A Stranger in the Kingdom (w/ David Lansbury, Ernie Hudson, Martin Sheen, Jean Louisa Kelly); In Jest (w/ Bill Raymond, Tantoo Cardinal, Rusty Dewees) and Where the Rivers Flow North (w/ Rip Torn, Tantoo Cardinal, Michael J. Fox). Also, the Emmy-winning comedy series for public television, Windy Acres.
Craven’s films have played 63 countries and more than 400 U.S. venues, with special screenings at Sundance, SXSW, AFI Fest, Lincoln Center, The Smithsonian, Harvard Film Archives, the Constitutional Court of Johannesburg, Cinemateca Nacional de Venezuela, and many others. Awards include the Producers Guild of America's 1995 NOVA Award for Most Promising Motion Picture of the Year and the 1998 Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
Craven has also worked for forty years as a Vermont arts activist, educator, and producer. He teaches at Marlboro College and founded and directed the Northeast Kingdom’ s long-running Catamount Arts organization, co-founded Circus Smirkus (with Rob Mermin), and co-founded Kingdom County Productions (with Bess O’Brien).
Craven serves as artistic director of the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival that unspools each August, for first and second-time filmmakers.
Why Wetware? Director's Statement
Who are the actors?
Morgan Wolk will play the stealthy and steadfast Kay Remilard, an enhanced genetically modified prototype who struggles to reclaim her humanity, against all odds. Wolk appears in the soon-to-be-released Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle’s award-winning new picture about jazz legend Miles Davis. Other titles include Criminal Activities (2015), and A Resurrection (2013).
Nicole Shalhoub will play the formidable head of the M-Plus project at Galapagos, Leslie Carr. Shalhoub is a graduate of Columbia University and the American Repertory/Moscow Art Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. She has performed in plays at the American Repertory Theater, Yale Rep, The Goodman Theater, Williamstown, St. Ann’s Warehouse, and Lincoln Center, among others. Film and TV credits include The International, The Good Wife, The Mentalist, Sex in the City 2, and Legends.
Aurélia Thiérrée will play The Clock, Hal Brigg’s dreamy timekeeper and his most reliable friend. Thiérrée is an internationally acclaimed circus artist who stars in her touring productions of Murmurs and Aurelia’a Oratorio, for which the Los Angeles Times called her performance “astonishing” for its combination of “surreal wit and acrobatic grace.” The London Guardian calls Thierree “an elegant waif,” adding “she does wonder wonderfully” and “makes you think you have seen what you have not seen.”
Bret Lada will play genetically modified M-Plus prototype, Jack Portman. Lada is known for his roles in Alpha House, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and Hostages. He has also performed in Love and Contempt (Off-Broadway) and A Streetcar Named Desire (O’Neill Theater Center). TV credits include The Good Wife and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
Garrett Lee Hendricks will play Krupp, the all-business utility player of Galapagos. Hendricks’s credits include The Americans, Nurse Jackie, Uncaged, 47 Secrets to a Younger You, and The Paragon Cortex. He has also played in New York theater productions including, as the title character, in By Oscar Micheaux (Milk Can Theater Company).
Matt Salinger will play Mashita, Chief Operating Officer at Galapagos. As an actor, Salinger has starred on and off Broadway and in numerous TV pilots, series, and MOWs (most notably as Claude Dallas in Manhunt for Claude Dallas). Film credits include What Dreams May Come, Revenge of the Nerds, Sidney Lumet’s Power, and as the title character in the original Captain America; more recently he was seen in Learning to Drive with Patricia Clarkson, and with Juliette Binoche in Nobody Wants The Night. Salinger's producing credits include the Obie and Drama Desk Award-winning play, The Syringa Tree and films including Let the Devil Wear Black, Mojave Moon, and Jay Craven's 1997 release, A Stranger in the Kingdom.
Kate Rogal will play Inky. A graduate with high honors from the Carnegie Mellon acting program, Kate's film and TV credits include The Sopranos, Law and Order, The Narrows, Safe, and Concussion.
Wetware calls for a large number of important roles. Additional talent includes Vermont actors Rusty Dewees, Ariel Zevon, Tara O’Reilly, Allan Nicholls, and Daniel Leventritt. Nantucket and Massachusetts actors include Susan McGinnis, Bianca Ilich, Lisa Hoskins, Vince Veilleux, Trevor Pendleton, and Jeff Zinn. Additional New York actors include John Rothman, Olivia Jampol, Dallas Mahan, Brandon Alan Smith, Louise Crossan, Lauren Ritter, and Drama Desk Award-winning writer, director, and actor, Jessica Blank.
Who wrote the novel?
Craig Nova is the award-winning author of 14 novels and one autobiography. His writing has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Men's Journal, among others. He has received an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2005 he was named Class of 1949 Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
What will happen to the finished film?
Distribution is always hard to predict. We fully expect to work with distributors for TV, streaming, DVD, and foreign rights, as we always do. But we make our films in New England and always stand behind them to ensure a robust life on screen before audiences in cities and towns throughout the region. Briefly, we spend two years touring each of our films to 200 towns in every corner of New England and New York State.
We play art house theaters, multi-plexes, town halls, cafes, parks, and fire stations. We work with our longstanding theater partners or stage events on our own. We love these “event screenings” for the solid audiences that turn out—and the discussions that follow. We also play selected cities and festivals. Indeed, we can come to your town--just let us know your thoughts (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Once we’ve played out this initial release, we partner with an established distributor to take our films to DVD release and online to Netflix, Amazon, I-Tunes and other streaming platforms. We also play cable outlets like Showtime and Starz and syndicated television. Students, actors, crew, and donors get to see the films we make come alive on screen—and some even work on the release.
Our films get seen for years to come, though revenue is unpredictable. In today’s world of indie distribution, a film can get substantial exposure but still generate only modest revenue. This is a problem for all indie filmmakers—and one reason we make films this way. We combine an innovative learning program with arts-based fundraising to produce high quality films on lean budgets. And we fully stand behind them in release, barnstorming to every corner of the region--and beyond.
Kickstarter donors are critically important to our ability to sustain this.
How about the project professionals? Who are they?
Brad Heck is our director of photography. Brad beautifully shot Northern Borders and Peter and John—he’s also a fabulous teacher. He’s shot more than 100 documentaries, commercials, and features and has worked on Kingdom County Projects, going back to 2001. He worked as DP on Jay Craven’s documentary After the Fog, Bess O’Brien’s musical film, Shout it Out and as second unit DP on Jay’s 2007 feature film, Disappearances. Brad’s a shining star among Marlboro College film alums.
Sarah Beers is also a fabulous mentor and costume designer. Sarah designed costumes for Peter and John and won a 2014 Emmy for Men Who Built America. She also designed costumes for the Academy Award nominated film, Maria Full of Grace and long-running TV series, Rescue Me. Sarah also worked with Jay on his previous films, A Stranger in the Kingdom and The Year That Trembled.
Alina Smirnova is our production designer. Alina is a graduate of Cornell and has an MFA in Production Design from NYU - with a number of good credits and lots of imaginative work to her credit.
Michael Toscano is line producer. Mike effectively line produced our ambitious 2014 film, Peter and John—no small feat. He has been working non-stop since then. He’s an MFA grad of the cool Columbia University producing program and a BA grad of Ithaca College.
Evan Schwenterly is editor/post-production person. Evan has been post-production stalwart and trouble shooter on Northern Borders and Peter and John. Evan’s also a Marlboro film alum.
Abra White works in production and casting. Abra participated in MFM as a Wellesley student and production coordinator on Peter and John and has been working with Jay all fall to lay groundwork for this upcoming project.
Willow O’Feral will work as second unit camera and art department troubleshooter during pre-production. She was still photographer and art department assistant on Northern Borders and Peter and John. Willow's also a Marlboro alum.
Amanda Wilder will lead the documentary unit. Her recent documentary, Approaching the Elephant, was nominated for a prestigious Gotham Award and IFP “Truer than Fiction” Award as part of IFP’s Independent Spirit Awards. Amanda is also a Marlboro film alumna.
Alison Pugh works with Sarah Beers as Costume Designer. Alison participated as a student in both previous MFM film intensives. For Northern Borders she was sound boom and she discovered her calling for costumes in Peter and John. She and her family have organized boffo screenings of each of our MFM movies in her northern New Hampshire town of Tamworth. Alison is a 2015 graduate of Mount Holyoke College.
Sascha Stanton-Craven has been supporting script development. He works as film editor on Adult Swim’s On Cinema At the Cinema and Decker. Before that, he worked for five years as media editor for the Onion until they moved from NYC to Chicago. He’s a 2004 Wesleyan film grad and winner of the University's Frank Capra Award for Excellence in Comedy Filmmaking.
Jacques Zimicki worked miracles as our Nantucket-based construction coordinator and art department pivot man for Peter and John. He’ll be with us again for Wetware - to build Galapagos' near future "growing room" and a virtual reality gaming parlor in the adjacent city.
Sam Sanders works as first assistant director. Sam is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan—and he has worked with Line Producer Mike Toscano on several previous projects. Like most of our professional crew, Sam is smart, focused, very committed—and a young emerging filmmaker with a bright future.
Mike McGuirk works as Wetware production manager. Mike is also an emerging talent but he has moved quickly into prominent roles on Woody Allen’s recent feature, Irrational Man, Boardwalk Empire, and the Golden Globe-winning Amazon series, Mozart in the Jungle. Mike is a graduate of the Directors Guild of America trainee program.
There are other cool crew members—we’ll update this list soon!
Who are the students?
They exceed our expectations on a daily basis. So here's a rundown:
Wellesley College: Audrey Stevens, Kayli Osuoji, Sarah Carlson, Carlyn Lindstrom,
Augsburg College: Sarah Mueller, Jacob Moore, Abigail Sulik, Christopher Guthrie
Sarah Lawrence College: Laurel Carole Ritter and Louise Crossan
Mount Holyoke College: Antara Shankar
Wesleyan University: Emmett Daly
University of California at Berkeley: Jodie Howard and Brandon McGinnis (Dec. grad).
Lyndon State College: Jake Charpentier, Brian O’Niell, Matthew Sullivan
Simmons College: Lisa Nault
Colby-Sawyer College: Amy Blazej, Nathaly Abreu
Fitchburg State University: Trevor Pendleton
University of Maine at Farmington: Kim Arthurs
Marlboro College: Allison Power, Lucas Wooden, Aaron Boles, Connor Lancaster, Merlin Katz, Chris Pratt, Tristan Homewood Gap: Matthew LaPrade
Risks and challenges
An ambitious project like this is fraught with risks and challenges--and demands for flexibility and accountability and collaboration under difficult circumstances. We'll shoot many all-nighters for this film, in order to achieve its noir mood and sensibility. Just yesterday, our crew loaded up a rented truck with lights, grip equipment, and camera gear. Then the truck broke down before it even got out of the lot.
Beyond this, there are the challenges of raising all the funds we need--and managing a budget that is always pushing at the edges. We've done it before--that's the good thing. Director Jay Craven has made seven previous feature films. Line producer Mike Toscano also works constantly and brings films in on time and on budget. But the challenges are new for each project and they require a specific response tailored to each situation.
Part of what makes this project valuable to students--and anyone, really, is the way in which these challenges provide learning opportunities that can uniquely grow out of the filmmaking experience—and are difficult to achieve through traditional course-based learning. Because, as students come to own substantial parts of the production narrative, they find themselves in new positions of responsibility, working reliably alongside peers with whom they create something enduring that’s also larger than themselves.
They earn and receive recognition for their valued contributions and jobs well done. They develop vital skills of decision-making, joint planning, critical thinking, problem solving, accountability, evidence-based inquiry, creative interpretation, contextual analysis, openness to new ideas, and risk-taking in the process of discovery.
Students apply their acquired instincts, knowledge, and skills to the tasks at hand, showing fair-mindedness and flexibility in the face of these challenges or new information. They see what it is to achieve innovative and complex objectives that require sustained presence and commitment.
Faculty from our sending schools remark how their students return to them with new confidence, skill, and leadership abilities that enrich their home school programs. These students also stand poised to make a difference in what they pursue after school, whether in film or teaching, or something else.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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