About this project
- Short film set in an illegal traveling sideshow in a distant galaxy where a shaman opens portals that allow people to contact the spirits of their ancestors.
- An original score and sound effects by QUINTRON.
- Features actor PAUL SOILEAU aka CHRISTEENE.
- The galaxy where the story takes place will be created by abstract painter IVA GUEORGUIEVA, who co-stars in the film.
- Shot on low-fidelity video gear with thrift store costumes and toy props. Will use minimal (if any) dialogue, strange sound effects, voiceover and abstract imagery to tell the story. It’s absurd, comic, kaleidoscopic & homemade.
- Originally shot on an abandoned Western movie set on the Mexican border in 1999 with a subsequent green screen shoot in New Orleans. Post-production work was halted due to a lack of financial resources and the limits of the technology at the time.
- 14 years later, technology has changed a lot. Visual effects are much more accessible. I want to go back with today's tools and re-edit the footage, composite the backgrounds, add spaceships, laser beams, stylize the colors, etc.
- But more importantly...I am going to embrace the character of the old video and have fun with it. This will be a short film unlike any other you've seen.
A distant galaxy. Belief and practice in magic or anything relating to the supernatural and the afterlife has been outlawed. Illegal sideshows travel to remote planets offering bizarre exhibits and mystical services. The most notorious is run by Dr. Leopold Rundy. He's one of the most hated men in seven universes. His main attraction is the Great Bazandini, a shaman who conjures strange portals in the sky where participants can receive messages from their ancestors. Rundy doesn’t believe in Bazandini's skills, he just wants the money that people will fork over for enlightenment.
A lot of people hate Dr. Rundy, but no one hates him more than Mirza. She’s Bazandini’s daughter and she's counting the days until they can return to a normal life. She knows that Rundy doesn't value her father's life and she’s terrified of what could happen if Bazandini gets caught. Mirza constantly worries about how government agents could show up any day. She pleads with her father to leave the sideshow, but he refuses. The people need his gift and he needs the money so he can give Mirza a better life. One day, when Dr. Rundy's sideshow lands on a desert planet, government agents show up and what then happens is the story of…Mirza The Miraculous.
BRENT JOSEPH (Writer, Director, Editor): Directed award-winning short films about Hurricane Katrina. Recently edited/co-wrote Shell Shocked, a feature doc about gun violence in New Orleans. Co-edited doc for MTV about Iraq War which won Edward R. Murrow award. Worked in the editing rooms of films by David Fincher, Larry Clark and Seth Rogen. brentjosephfilm.com
PAUL SOILEAU (Dr. Leopold Rundy): Cajun-born actor, performance artist, drag terrorist aka CHRISTEENE aka REBECCA HAVEMEYER aka LULU in Soderbergh’s Out of Sight. Performing with Rude Mechanicals at Lincoln Center in Jan ’14. christeenemusic.com • rebeccahavemeyer.com • rudemechs.com
Here's recent video by Paul/Christeene (directed by PJ Raval):
IVA GUEORGUIEVA (Mirza): Star of this movie. Creator of large scale abstract paintings. Raised in Communist Bulgaria. MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philly. Taught at UCLA. Now creates dazzling works of art full time in her LA studio. www.amy-nyc.com • www.acmelosangeles.com • www.galerie-roepke.de
Here's are some examples of Iva's artwork:
QUINTRON (Composer): Organist and inventor of musical instruments. Creates genre-defying “Swamp-Tech” music and soundscapes from New Orleans. Played organ on the Grammy-nominated album Grand Isle by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys which featured a song he wrote. Recently invented an analog “drone synthesizer” modulated by the weather, called THE WEATHER WITCH. quintronandmisspussycat.com
Music Video for "Freedom" (video by Daryn Deluco & Stubbs):
Quintron demos his musical invention, The Drum Buddy (video by Daryn Deluco):
WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE
In our current era of endless self promotion, where everyone wants to look perfect, I confess, I f**ked up. Back in 1999, when I shot Mirza The Miraculous, I had grand ideas and I didn’t test them properly. My original plan was to shoot the movie on consumer grade video and then use software to make it look like a cartoon. There was a program that claimed to do this, but guess what? It didn’t work.
Thinking that it was going to be a cartoon, where mouths aren’t usually in sync, I recorded the voices first then had the actors mime along on the set to speed up the production process. I was banking on the idea that when the video was converted into a cartoon I would loose many of the details of the sets and costumes. I thought the characters and backgrounds would be transformed into much simpler shapes and colors. Because of this I didn't try to make my images look very realistic (see tin-foil robot in video).
When I eventually started experimenting with the footage in the editing room, I quickly realized that the amount of time it took to do the most basic visual effect was mind-boggling. Just keying out some of the backgrounds felt impossible--let alone convert a shot to a cartoon.
What I was left with was grainy video, out-of-sync sound and images that looked like they were directed by a 10-year-old.
I kept trying to make it all work, but I'd always hit a wall.
Two years later, Richard Linklater’s Waking Life came out and successfully used a similar process of shooting live video and then digitally painting it later to look animated. It took a team of thirty animators over one year using propriety software to make that film happen. I didn’t have anything close to those kind of resources, so it seemed prudent to shelve the film until new possibilities arose.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Well, here we are almost 15 years later. Technology has changed a lot. Is there now software that allows one person to easily convert Hi-8 video into a cartoon? I have no idea and it actually doesn't matter anymore.
What I have realized (with some distance) is that the crude footage is so absurd and dated that it now has its own charms. I want to embrace that. The late-90s video, thrift store costumes, toy props, desert location and green screen footage are a world of possibilities.
With your help, I want to reopen this project with the digital tools of today and a brand new vision.
While I'm not trying to make it look animated anymore, I still have my work cut out for me. I need to put in the backgrounds, spaceships, laser beams, and other visual effects to make the setting feel complete. In addition to that, I want to take it to another level by adding new art work created by the co-star of the film, Iva Gueorguieva. She's going to paint a galaxy where the desert planet is located and if time allows, she may contribute other imagery as well.
Last but not least, there's the sound. I will use an occasional voiceover to tie everything together, but the majority of the audio will be from Quintron's music and sound effects. His aesthetic is going to be the perfect match to play with and against the footage as well as the cosmos painted by Iva. It's going to be a very fast-moving cinematic experience.
That is the plan, and I need your help to make it happen.
Even though technology has improved immensely and my visual effects will be low-tech by Hollywood standards, this project is going to take a lot of work.
Here’s a basic breakdown:
- EDITING: A few weeks to get the story and performances just right.
- VISUAL EFFECTS: Many weeks to composite the backgrounds, add effects & tweak the colors.
- MUSIC: Fantastic original score by Quintron
- ONE SHOOT DAY: This will be to gather a few missing pieces….Mostly villagers and sideshow performers.
- MOTION GRAPHICS ARTIST: There will be a few keys effects I want to farm out to someone more experienced than me.
- CONTRACTS: I want to be street legal for distribution. That means having a lawyer draw up documents.
- KICKSTARTER REWARDS: Discs, Prints, Packaging, Shipping, etc…
- KICKSTARTER & AMAZON FEES: Can add up to 9%
- TAXES: Can’t keep it all.
Risks and challenges
The challenge with this project will be compositing all the elements. Between the original footage, the green screen footage, the background plates I shot on a separate trip to West Texas and Iva’s artwork, there will be a lot of material to handle for a short film. Having now worked in the editing room of films like "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "This is the End" plus worked as the lead editor on several indie films, I have developed strong organizational and editing skills. I feel very confident that I will be able to handle all the material in the time I have allotted. If it does, indeed, look like the visual effects are going to extend the schedule, they will be minimized. My motto will be "keep it simple." Mirza's story is what’s important.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
- (30 days)