The Impossible Project - The Film (Canceled)
Things you can touch and that touch you! Impossible reinvents Polaroid for the digital age. Shot on glorious 35mm!
THE IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT - THE FILM
The incredible story of saving and reinventing Polaroid.
The revolution is over. We live in the digital age. Everything is digital. Except us. Humans are still analog. We are the opposite of digital we are real: Unpredictable, irrational, chemical, unique, artistic. This should make us think.My film is about people who do think - and act on it. It is the tale of the wonderfully incongruous company called The Impossible Project. What once used to be an iconic worldwide brand - Polaroid - has now become a young and hip Berlin start-up. Analog in the digital age.
At the centre are two driven visionaries - once partners, currently not working together - Doc and Oskar. Their quest is taking on the impossible, the against-the-odds challenge of reinventing an iconic 1940s technology for the 21st century.
Watch the first 35mm trailer!
This is a film about values. How the relationship with technology mirrors the choices we make in our lives. The value in slowing down for a second, considering your action. Value embodied in real things: Photographs, books, music, art, poetry, vinyl, film, letters, slow food. Following two decades of digital revolution, people seem to yearn for something "else": something warm, emotional, unpredictable. Things you can touch and that touch you.
It's a feature documentary, shot over several years, on 35mm. In English. Our partners and co-producers are ARRI, Kodak, Films Distribution, Delphi, Baldr Film, Andec Lab. We are 80% financed - your support will give us the push to complete.
Please join in and get yourself one of our unique rewards. You'll go to analog heaven and we'll thank you forever!
Who is The Impossible Project?
Many people make up the Impossible Project, but two people stand at the centre: Doc and Oskar. Doc is a biologist from Vienna; Oskar used to be his intern. Their vision, dreams, their failures, their determination to keep something important alive guide us through this story. A whiff of romance about this idea of not giving in, of fighting the good fight, a kind of 'Sanderism' in an age of cold progress.
The yearning for 'real' is very real, and it is catching-on. And miraculously 1940's Polaroid/Impossible now emerges as the perfect new product to embody this trend.
At its inception 'The Impossible Project' was something of a retro dream, dreamt by the exceptionally dedicated and eccentric Austrian Dr. Florian Kaps whom the whole world knows simply as Doc. Doc made it his mission to save the world's last surviving Polaroid factory, in Holland. With a small group of determined followers, he insisted this out-dated technology was so important that it must not die.
Against the odds, they managed to keep the production process going again. Only to discover that, yes, they had bought the original Polaroid factory, saved the icon and now owned all the machinery, but that the actual formula for Polaroid film had been lost. For good.
Impossible had to start from scratch, and eight years later they are still trying to recreate that formula.
Impossible today is a very Berlin start-up, run by 27-year-old Oskar, who just created the world's first all-new Polaroid camera since the 1980's, the amazing I-1. Oskar and his crew of cosmopolitan creatives is totally not about saving the past, but about finding new creative tools for today.
Their venture is risky, hip, innovative. Which is remarkable, considering that it is based on a 1970's mass product. The company is named after a quote by Polaroid's legendary inventor Edwin Land: "Don't undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible."
Can their dream of reinventing an old analog technology come true? It's David vs. Goliath, the classic underdog story of the passionate analog good guys vs. the sterile world order of the digital corporations. Will the markets support this kind of ideology?
Meanwhile, Doc in Vienna has launched Supersense. An analog wonderland with a purpose.
Doc - no longer part of the company he founded - has been licking his wounds a bit, but has not been idle. That's not his style. He converted a 19th Century Doge's Palace into what he calls "the world's first analog delicatessen" - a one-of-a-kind museum/shop/laboratory where you can record direct-to-vinyl-disk, programme smells with memories, use their message-in-a-bottle machine and enjoy anything beautiful and analog the world has or will ever produce.
Supersense keeps the flag flying, serving as a hub for disciples of the cause, showing there's a future in analog. It's an amazing place full of amazing people. It's a movement.
While we focus on Impossible and Doc's Supersense at the film’s narrative core, we will also meet other champions of the analog lifestyle and use the abundance of unique archive material available, spanning Polaroid's long iconic era, from Dalí to Fidél to Warhol, covering art, photography, science… There are many fascinating personalities and great visuals.
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 (all meant positively). Both are stunning and very filmic places to visit and will provide a great backdrop to the project. Nonetheless, it's a global story, so we will also be filming in Holland, London, New York, Shanghai.
Why this film?
A picture is just a picture, whether taken on a smartphone or an old SLR. But maybe how you take a photograph makes a difference. Whether you snap away creating digital images that get uploaded and swallowed up in the digital domain of Facebook and Snapchat, or whether you take a cumbersome analog photograph, which you pause to think about before snapping (if only because of the expense), which exists only once, physically, authentic? And which is, by definition, withheld from the corporate digital empires, as it cannot be uploaded.
I just love the opportunity to get into this story of people who are standing up for what they believe in, and that this doesn't always have to mean more, faster, progress. 'Standing up for…' - that's probably something the world could easily do with more of.
Digital natives will leave no mark. But people would love to. Instagram, iCloud and Spotify - all of this is fleeting. It's about instant gratification, not lasting value. Fast food for the mind; low-carb for the soul.
Is this a mere luxury problem? Or is it, indeed, a question of how you see your position in this world? This is a question more and more people are becoming engaged in. Authenticity is a key word for millennials.
Fact is, there's a real joy to rediscovering 35mm motion picture film as a documentary format. This joy is adding to my project. The thinking and focus required to work on 35mm is almost a liberation from the tyranny of 'just-let-it-roll'-digital. The film crew seems highly motivated. Finding solutions for the filmmaking on 35mm is an extension of what the documentary itself is about. It's this question: Might a little more effort, a little more thinking-ahead, a little more expense actually get you a much more deliberate, more meaningful result?
Though this is actually the most tried-and-tested film format of all. Cameras are still around, but not much in use. Our original lab - at ARRI in Munich - was closed down, just as we got started with our first days of filming. Suddenly, it's not just a question of picking up the phone to book a clapper-loader or a film-savvy AD. It's all DITs now. Analog filmmaking has changed dramatically, within a very short space of time.
I might not choose 35mm for news gathering, and of course there are painful moments when roll-outs happen at just the wrong moment. Which they do. But there's something making this well worth-it: It's as if there's a magic to the process that also touches the protagonists in front of the camera: Unconsciously knowing that there's only four minutes in a short roll seems to pinpoint the conversation. And knowing that those four minutes cost real money somehow makes people feel special.
We are now processing at Andec in Berlin's film triangle Neukölln. A discovery, one of the last 35mm labs in Europe, but actually a family business for 70 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.
The two DoPs on Impossible - Bernd Fischer and Torsten Lippstock - have been working with me on documentaries for many years - always on film. Yes, we find that it's a challenge to crew-up in the various cities the film has taken us, but that once there is a crew, they seem to be working with a grin on their face. Revisiting stock speeds, mag changes, genuine gate-checks and heavy dolly moves in a doc - bliss.
And dejá vue: We have done this for many years. We have not forgotten. In fact, I got my start with Bernd Fischer (currently on Tom Tykwer's Berlin Babylon series) in the Soviet Union, in 1990. Back then, we had to work on 35mm because the Russians could not afford video!
The Impossible Project is a feature documentary by award-winning director-producer Jens Meurer (Public Enemy, My South African Home Movie, Russian Ark, Carlos, Rush, European Film Award for Documentary 1995).
Impossible will be a film with stunning visuals, one of the few (the last ever?) documentaries to be made on 35mm film. It is an ambitious feature documentary, shot over a period of several years, with a budget in excess of € 1 million. At this stage, about 80% of the film is financed, through development funding, some equity, a Dutch co-production and non-recoupable funding from two German public funds, DFFF and BKM and our partners.
The coalition of the willing supporting our venture
There's ARRI, legendary camera maker, still fully supporting 35mm technology, ARRI turns 100 years in 2017 and has come in as co-producer. When we first discussed this project, my instinctive reaction was to go for film, of course, considering the subject, 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 The Impossible Project apart from any digital format.
Kodak is the last maker of 35mm 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. Though by 2016 all of us involved in this film are, in fact, ourselves 'innovative ventures'.
Films Distributions is our Paris-based sales company, famous for films such as this year's Oscar-winner Son of Saul, shot on film. 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.
Kickstarter! I am hoping and betting that there is a community out there who will 'get' my project and want such a film to be made in 2017. To get a great story told, which documents a moment of great revolution, captures and embodies an significant past, but most of all explores what we want/need in the future.
There are many more important partners and supporters, for example two German public funds, where I have received one of the largest grants ever given by them to a documentary project. In addition to being its own independent film project, Impossible will also serve as a very active link between the different analog communities, and will get the message out to a wide worldwide audience.
Risks and challenges
What could go wrong? Might your funding be wasted?
The answer is yes. At least, in theory. The film might never be made.
But here is why I am very confident that this won't happen, and why you can safely support me. The challenge is to get past €100.00; once there we WILL make the film.
For one, I've been developing and producing films for more than 25 years. Check out my IMDB-page (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0582797/…). You'll see that I've made quite a few films over the years and that I've been pretty good at getting even really difficult ones into production, as well as distribution the world over.
Plus - I 've made many movies, and most of them good ones, including lots of documentaries. If I believe in something, I am very persistent.
The Impossible Project is a film I totally believe in. I know it's a great story, with great people in it; I also know that it taps into a theme that is beginning to move more and more people around the world.
I started the project with some research and a first few days of filming at my own risk. Since then, I've been able to slowly but surely build a growing list of experienced and reliable partners.
They include Kodak, ARRI, Andec, Films Distribution, Dutch co-producer Baldr-Film, German distributor Delphi (Russian Ark) as well as the German incentive DFFF and the German Federal Cultural Fund BKM, who alone have given me € 200.000 (their highest amount ever given to a documentary).
With them, the project is now about 80% funded and that's definitely a good indication that it will be made. We have about ten shooting days on 35mm under our belt, and the nature of the story, the project and the film being very universal and international, there are many other possibilities of completing the budget.
Right now that includes broadcasters in two countries and, of course, Kickstarter. I've never done a Kickstarter campaign before, and it's not just about the Kickstarter-sourced money for me. It just seems such a natural opportunity to get word of the film out, and to have people support the project who are also interested in this kind of product, thinking, subject matter and filmmaking.
I think our rewards are great - they are very directly linked to the people in the film and behind the camera. You can visit, touch, see, cuddle all of them. There is a kind of good "coalition of the willing" forming around this project, and Kickstarter seems a perfect extension of this.
Together, there's no way this film will not be completed!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)