"The more digital the world the more analog the dreams." Doc
An Impossible Project tells the story of the people who saved the last Polaroid factory in the world. It is an ambitious feature documentary, started in 2013, filmed over a period of several years, and, of course, not on a digital format, but on 35mm. It could be the last documentary shot this way.
So, our Kickstarter goal is all about '35' - bringing together 350 backers, to raise €35.000, and to do this over the next 35 days. This will allow the film to close its financing and go into full production.
We want to keep analog film alive. We want to keep analog life alive. If you are an analog lover too - be part of our project.
We kick off the campaign with a day filming at Impossible's old Polaroid factory in Enschede, Holland. If all goes well, and you support us, we will end the campaign 35 days later with a day of filming at another great analog institution, Jack White's Third Man Records in Detroit. Join us live on both 35mm film shoots via the new Kickstarter feed.
Read on to find out more about the film and how you can support us. Most of all, don't hold back: Pledge a small amount, send us comments, send us questions, join us on set, let's fill some cinemas to watch the film together.
What is the film about?
At its core, it tells the story of the self-professed crazy, charming, dogged and visionary Austrian, Dr. Florian Kaps - the world knows him simply as Doc - and his crusade for everything analog, instant photography especially. Doc decided to save the last Polaroid factory in the world, and started a wonderfully incongruous company called The Impossible Project.
What once was a massive worldwide brand - Polaroid - has now become a hip Berlin start-up, run by a group of young people around an inspired engineer called Oskar, who's not yet thirty years old. Their quest is taking on the impossible, a David vs. Goliath challenge of reinventing the near-extinct 20th icon Polaroid for the digital generation.
Why would you do this? That's what I want to explore with this film. Polaroid is synonymous with the good we are in danger of losing as the world around us turns corporate and digital. Unless we put up a fight.
Each Polaroid is unique, and unique is something people seem deeply in need of. It is a powerful theme: People seem to yearn for something "else": something warm, emotional, individual. This is about the choices we make in our lives. 'Authenticity' is the keyword of a generation. Things you can touch. And that touch you.
The main characters
Doc and Oskar. Their vision, dreams, their failures, their determination and motivation to keep something seemingly obsolete alive take us through the story. There was the day they found out that, yes, they had saved the factory and persuaded 25 former staff to return – but that the formula for Polaroid had been lost. Irrevocably. Impossible had to start from scratch, and eight years later they are still trying to recreate that formula.
At its inception Doc's Impossible Project was a retro dream. But for Oskar and his crew of cosmopolitan Berliners, Impossible is about creative tools for today, not about saving the past. They have just launched the world's first all-new Polaroid camera since the 1980's, the I-1. Developed by Oskar, this is a beautiful and functional analog camera which interacts digitally with an app.
Meanwhile, Doc in Vienna - converted a 19th Century Doge's Palace into what he calls "the world's first analog delicatessen"; a one-of-a-kind experimental department store where you can record direct-to-disc LPs, programme smells with memories, or use their message-in-a-bottle machine. Supersense is an analog wonderland with a purpose - to keep the flag flying, to be a hub for disciples of the cause, and to show that there is a future in analog.
Like Impossible Supersense is a movement. It is David vs. Goliath, the classic underdog story of the passionate analog good guys vs. the sterile world order of the digital corporations.
The film will take us to two cities, Berlin and Vienna, which have become antipodes in the digital/analog spectrum. Berlin is the young, hip, fast start-up hub of Europe; Vienna proudly considers itself the "Analog Capital of the World", slow, olde, conscientious. Nonetheless, it's a global story, so we will also be filming in Holland, London, New York.
The Polaroid/Impossible narrative will serve as the anchor as the film launches from there into a wider encounter with analog lifestyles and people who made a decision not to take the digital deluge lying down.
There are many fascinating variations to this story of authenticity and values - art, music, photography, science. From New55 to Ferrania to 20x24 Studio to ARRI to Kodak to Slow Food and even Slow Cities.
Carefully composed cinematography visuals and great archive footage, galvanized by a sprinkling of celebrity. Jack White is an analog entrepreneur with 'Third Man Records'. Lady Gaga was Polaroid's spokeswoman, with a twist. Quentin Tarantino is saving 35mm movies and Benedict Cumberbatch invented a hugely popular charity show, 'Letters Live', which revolves around reading out real people's letters. Anyone who was been anyone seems to show-up with - or on - a Polaroid - from Andy Warhol to Fidel Castro to Patti Smith.
Why this film and why 35mm?
There was no way this story could be filmed on a digital format.
When Doc discovered the Polaroid universe, already reeling from the digital revolution, the bug bit him and he dedicated his life to saving the old brand. When I met Doc, that too, was a contagious moment. Doc embodies this magnificent, irresistable analog stubbornness - a bit Don Quixotish, but filled with optimism and passion - that simply won't let us yield to the digital corporate giants just yet. Doc believes that the more digital our world gets, the more analog our dreams become.
If you, too, want to be infected, join in, make your mark for the last remaining analog things and help us tell their indelible story.
Filming on 35mm today is a riff on the challenges and opportunities of the analog approach: It is more expensive and has limitations to be taken into account but the thinking and focus required is almost liberation from the tyranny of 'just-let-it-roll'-digital. Finding solutions for the filmmaking on 35mm is an extension of what the documentary itself is about.
The coalition of the willing supporting our venture
I started the project with some research and a first few days of filming just toying with the idea of tackling a 35mm documentary. Since then, I've been able to slowly build a growing list of experienced and dedicated film partners.
There's ARRI, legendary camera maker, still fully supporting 35mm technology, ARRI turns 100 years in 2017 and has come onboard as co-producer. When we first discussed this project, my instinctive reaction was to go for film, of course, but using the standard set-up of Super16mm. ARRI persuaded me that this story is worth going all the way, and that only 35mm will truly set An Impossible Project apart from any digital format.
Kodak is the last maker of 35mm motion picture stock. Even when they were a huge corporation, they have always been supportive of innovative ventures. That has not changed, and they are coming through on Impossible and on Kickstarter.
Films Distribution is our Paris-based sales company, known for films such as this year's Oscar-winner Son of Saul, shot on 16mm. In fact, FD-founder François Ion so believes in the future of storytelling on real film that he's considering a film-only division.
Delphi, the legendary German distributor, was my first partner on Russian Ark, back in the day (a digital film, I have to admit.).
We are processing at Andec Filmtechnik in Berlin. One of the last 35mm labs in Europe and a family business for 80 years. Andec had been almost forgotten but stuck it out with analog and is now the world's No.1 Super 8mm lab. Plus making a comeback on 35mm.
Kickstarter. You! You are analog, too. Please support our film, help us keep this project moving. Leave your mark. Join in with comments, questions, your analog experience. And, of course, your pledge.
The filmmaker. My name is Jens Meurer and I am what they like to call "an award-winning director and producer" in the blurb on the back of DVD boxes. More realistically, my day job is producing feature films. But my nighttime passion has always been documentaries, ever since I got my start at the Leningrad Documentary Film Studio in 1990.
You might know some of my films - Public Enemy, Russian Ark, Carlos, Rush - and I did win at least one gong (European Film Award for Documentary 1995). What you probably don't know is that - somewhat tellingly - I bought four identical /8 Mercedes cars back in 1985 so that I would never, ever, until the end of my life, have to drive anything that beeps at me electronically. I still run them today.
To make sure this doesn't get too weird, there is a wonderful team of filmmakers joining me on this Impossible journey. Co-writer Franziska Kramer, two fascinating, film-savvy DoPs, Bernd Fischer and Torsten Lippstock, Alex Berner and Zenon Kristen in the editing room and many others.
Digital natives will leave no mark. Instagram (Polaroid's digital bastard), iCloud and Spotify - they are all fleeting. Instant gratification, not lasting value. Fast Food for the mind.
Analog promises to be more than that: meaningful, real, lasting. Soul food, not low carb. Is that true, however? Is there value in values, or are we chasing a quaint pipe dream? This is a question more and more people are becoming engaged in. This film sets out to provide an entertaining, beautiful, thought-provoking answer.
Risks and challenges
I've been developing and producing films for more than 25 years. If I believe in something I am very persistent.
"An Impossible Project"is a film I believe in 100%. I know it's a universal, powerful story with great protagonists; I have been researching it for four years and am closely linked to the various and growing number of participants.
I also know that it taps into a theme that is beginning to move more and more people around the world.
We are solid, it is a realistic prospect. At this stage, roughly 65% of the film is financed, through development funding, some equity, a co-production, and grants from two German cultural funds. With 65% already financed, and 11 shooting days in the can, it will be completed.
The Kickstarter funds are crucial to cover the next five days filming, thus being able to keep up with an unfolding story - on 35mm. Kickstarter will keep the project alive and moving forward.
This will als help trigger the final chunks of funding coming in, for example German-French broadcaster Arte. And we want the campaign create a community around the film and its partners.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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