Harvest is a feature-length film exploring the life of Hank Colby and his lifestyle outside the realm of civilization as most of us know it. Hank is an aging man whose solitary life and routine in the mountains he calls home are no longer hospitable to his mind and his body. His declining health and a changing ginseng trade, accompanied by something supernatural in his woods, coincide to signal a transformation in Hank's life.
Hank has spent his entire life in the tattered home in which he was born. His home, which is his world, has always been a place of solitude and repetition. In Harvest, we watch Hank as he maneuvers through his daily activities, routine hardened by years of practice. He splits wood for the coming winter, he prepares a fence around his land, and he forages the surrounding mountains for ginseng.
Ginseng root, widely popular for its healing and energizing qualities, has always been a means to an end for Hank. At $500 a pound, it gave him what little money he needed to get by, money he needed to buy groceries and provisions from the small gas and grocery owner, Brenda. Ginseng also connected him with local horticulturalist Tony Baldwin, whose friendship along with Brenda’s were Hank’s only connections to life outside the mountains.
Little by little, Hank’s routines and customs start to deteriorate. The ginseng trade that he depends on and that has always been consistent is beginning to change. Tony is getting out of the business; Hank’s new dealer, Bernard Ferguson, is an outsider with a different process. And the ginseng-laden mountains that Hank has known so well all these years start to fail him. To add to his uneasiness, he starts to see and hear something unfamiliar lurking around him, something seemingly not of this world. Perhaps spirits of the forest, perhaps spirits from his past.
Hank starts to falter under the increasing pressure of providing ginseng that he simply can't find. We watch as the man, defined by the routine of years past, slowly comes apart.
This film is important for several reasons:
1.) Hank's story is certainly timely. It is about a lifestyle that is becoming increasingly scarce. In a world where interconnectivity has disrupted the localization of life and spirit.
2.) Harvest explores a time in life that we all will encounter. The moment where we realize we are not the person we used to be. The world that once was our playground suddenly has a foreignness. Hank has been defined by his day to day actions. And, this film implores us to watch, in length, as he struggles to keep going.
3.) This film will be made in the style of Slow Cinema. The technique of this film is imperative for the future of media. In a modern age where we have become engrained with fast, economic, and efficient storytelling, this film decidedly slows the pace. Instead of using highly manufactured plot to tell the viewer what to think, Harvest gives the viewer space and time to think for themselves. The film becomes the ultimate interactive medium. It gives us space to make our own personal connections. It is a hint at a story and a life that we are all familiar with, in a world that many of us may not be familiar with. The technique of this film is a purely cinematic. It uses time and space, explored in depth, to tell a story of transformation.
The Back Story
Here are a series of blog posts that describe the journey we have already made to make this film:
The above stills are from a location scout in 2012. This is the new Hank Colby, the replacement for my friend, Paul. Choreographer, director, and actor John Gamble. Because of John's long career studying and performing human movement he is the perfect fit for this film. The film does not tell us about Hank through story or through dialogue but through the way he carries himself in the dark, dusty interiors of his home. Through the way he does his day to day routine, and ultimately through the way he begins to falter. Movement and space are the voice for this character and there is no better artist than John Gamble for the job.
This is why we have Kickstarter. Making a film is an expensive enterprise. This film will not be made for $15,000. But, through my own personal investment and outside investors who have already committed this is the number we know we still need to make the production happen. In other words, this is the final piece. $15,000 stands between us and completion.
This film is highly reliant on the visuals and as such we have decided to shoot on the RED Epic. This camera and all the support that it requires will make up a big part of our budget. But, it is well worth it, dare I say essential. With our talented Director of Photography (Seamus Mulligan-Ferry) at the helm and with a clear vision of our final product we can be certain that this investment will result in a stunning piece of visual artistry. Your donations, towards the goal of $15,000, will help us achieve this.
There have already been many instrumental people involved. But, here are the key creative players:
John Gamble (Hank Colby): John Gamble, Professor of Dance, is a dancer, choreographer, designer, and the director of the John Gamble Dance Theater. Among his mentors are Anna Halprin, Daniel Nagrin, and Erika Thimey. He was department chair of dance at Temple University 1975-1985. He taught at University of North Carolina at Greensboro since 1985, where he was department head from 1985-1993. His choreographed works have been presented throughout the United States and in Canada, France, and Germany. In addition to his formal choreography, he teaches and performs contact and other improvisational forms. He is a recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Choreographic Fellowship and was awarded the NC Board of Governor's Teaching Excellence Award in 2006 and the NC Dance Alliance Annual Award in 2007.
Currently, John is retired from his position at UNC-G. He continues to produce work, but on a cold winter night in downtown Winston-Salem, when I saw him sitting on a bench smoking a Marlboro, I thought to myself, "This is Hank!"
Luckily I was able to track him down and even more luckily we shared artistic sensibilities. We both felt he would be the perfect person for this role characterized by movement and physicality.
Mike Paulucci (Producer):
Mike Paulucci graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with an M.F.A. in Film Production in 2011. His short films have screened at a number of festivals around the country, and his first feature Tasmanian Tiger is currently in post-production.
Along with creating independent films, Mike is a Digital Media Designer at the Erikson Institute in downtown Chicago, revolutionizing the way early childhood is taught to working professionals with an end result to better the lives of children and their families. His work at Erikson was shown at the World Forum on Early Care and Education in Honolulu, HI.
Seamus Mulligan-Ferry (Director of Photography): With a keen interest in both films and photography, Seamus Mulligan-Ferry was naturally drawn to the creative and technical hybrid of cinematography. After determining he wanted a solid artistic foundation, he received his MFA from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where he gained vast experience shooting his peers’ films and honed his aesthetic sensibilities.
After relocating to New York City and a two-year stint managing the camera department at a rental house, Seamus began freelancing full-time to pursue his ultimate goal of shooting narrative features. Drawing inspiration from such cinematographers as Conrad Hall, Harris Savides and Robert Richardson, Seamus strives to compliment the emotional tone of a project through a subtle approach to lighting and composition.
Seamus recently completed lensing his first feature film last summer; Harvest producer Mike Paulucci’s Tasmanian Tiger. The film was a welcome chance for him to explore the visual boundaries of genre conventions while helping to convey the evolution of the film’s protagonist.
With Harvest, Seamus and director Cagney Gentry have already started to develop a strong visual approach for the project and he is eagerly awaiting the opportunity this fall to help bring the Harvest script to the screen.
Risks and challenges
In writing this film I tried to conceptualize a piece that was conducive to micro-budget filmmaking. What story, what concept, what passion did I have that could be told in mostly one location, with one main character, and with a simplicity of technique. With that framework I decided to explore a life of solitude and the subsequent consequences of its disruption.
Even though I have optimized the feasibility of making this film, making a feature is always challenging. It is always wrought with risk. Here are a few challenges specific to this production:
1.) Besides Hank, the other role that sees the most screen time is his dog. We will have to hire a dog and trainer to be onset for a large portion of the shooting schedule. Working with animals is quite a challenge and the success of fundraising will ensure we minimize the risk by hiring talent and experience. The main way we are combatting this risk is by scheduling extra time, from the beginning, for the dog and trainer.
2.) The style of this film demands very long takes that require lots of planning, rehearsal, and then re-shooting in full when mistakes happen. This means that the schedule is always at risk of being delayed. We will do our very best to make this not happen. What we have going for us is time. I already have my lead actor and we have been and will continue to be working through every scene in detail. This preparation time before the shoot should ensure that the shoot goes along as close to schedule as possible.
3.) We will be WAY out in the middle of no where. We have both the location and a basecamp nearby where cast and crew can stay. But, we will also need additional lodging and food. This will be challenging in a remote area, but we did identify a location that is secluded yet still not too far from a small town. We will hire one person whose job it is to run back and forth from town for supplies.
4.) Anything and everything can go wrong in a film production. We are taking the necessary steps to be prepared for this generic threat. We will combat this by scheduling extra time, adding more days to the schedule than we think we will need. In addition to extra time, extra hands on set can be essential. One person who is ready to tackle any situation but not already tied to a department can be an indispensable asset.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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