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The Lightkeeper is a short film about a young veteran and the reclusive old man with whom she forms an unexpected kinship.
The Lightkeeper is a short film about a young veteran and the reclusive old man with whom she forms an unexpected kinship.
155 backers pledged $17,635 to help bring this project to life.
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$17,635

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Set in a remote coastal town, The Lightkeeper is a short-to-feature film about a young drifter and reclusive old author who find an unexpected version of family together over dinner one night.

The film stars SAG Award-nominee Meg Steedle (Boardwalk Empire, The Mysteries of Laura), Academy Award-nominee and Golden Globe-winner Bruce Davison (Longtime Companion, X-Men, Willard), and is written and directed by award-winning independent filmmaker Zach Bandler.

The Origin

The Lightkeeper began as a passion project for us two years ago. We were both at a point in our respective careers where we wanted to tell meaningful stories on film, about characters that could connect with viewers no matter their walk of life.

So we had a brainstorming session. What kinds of ideas were we drawn to make stories about? Where did those ideas line up with each other? After much discussion about our lives and the people in them, we soon found a topic we shared connection with:

Mentors.

We both have had very impactful relationships with our mentors, for better or for worse. They helped mold us into who we are, as people and as artists. We loved them, often like a parent, but lived in fear of disappointing them. They inspired us and pushed us to always be better, but they also made mistakes or even hurt us — a reminder that everyone is still human, no matter how high the pedestal on which we've placed them.

So, with this concept as our origin point, we were off and running. Zach began on the long road of designing and writing a story, and as he got deeper and deeper into it, we both realized there was far more to be explored in our chosen theme.

 Why We Think It Matters

The Lightkeeper is now an intergenerational story dealing with two issues that affect our society today:

  • Degenerative brain disease like Alzheimer’s and dementia. 
  • The not-so-dramatized struggles faced by veterans of our armed forces — particularly women veterans.

This is not a film about the horrors of PTSD for those who have come back from two of the longest military campaigns in U.S. history. Rather, this is about everyday trials many veterans endure. The feeling of being changed. Being out of place. The fear that life as a civilian should feel normal and just doesn’t. How do vets deal with these feelings? Specifically, how do women who have served deal with them? And how are these feelings universal to us all?

Alzheimer’s and dementia are close to home for us, as they are for so many people. As we talk about briefly in our video above, Zach’s mentor — a composer and a force to be reckoned with — suffered a series of strokes that took away his mind too soon. Many of us have had this experience, whether it’s with a teacher, parent or grandparent. It is burned into us. The grief of watching their identity and our connection to them slowly slip away. But we believe the pain also brings with it a strange sense of reverence and gratitude. Gratitude for how lucky we are to have had them in our lives at all.

That feeling is why we want to make The Lightkeeper. It’s the twinge of satisfaction and sorrow that comes from two people squeezing the most out of a passing moment in time — however brief the encounter.

The Story

Alison Layton is a tough, hardened drifter in her late twenties. When the film begins, she has been staying in a small, dilapidated house in a remote coastal town with “Don,” an old stranger who turns out to be Donald Quinn — a reclusive, Nobel Prize-winning author that disappeared from the public eye over three decades ago.

We first find Alison alone in a bedroom, looking through a photo album. Behind her, is a picture of Don in earlier years, his arms wrapped around a little girl. They stand smiling in front of a lighthouse. She hears Don enter the front door, quickly puts away the album and locks the bedroom from the inside as she goes. 

Don announces with flair that he plans to make them a fancy dinner, celebrating an occasion he cannot recall. Alison excuses herself to the bathroom so she can get freshened up for the meal, where she opens Don’s medicine cabinet to reveal prescription medications with names like Coumadin, Plavix and Namenda lining the shelves. 

At dinner, the two sit down to enjoy Don’s masterpiece of steamed crabs. As the two laugh and hammer away at the shells of their succulent victims, Alison unexpectedly opens up about her own past. What follows is a tender, yet shattering scene in which both characters realize that the scars they have been hiding from the world are far more intertwined than they ever imagined.

Some Praise for The Lightkeeper 

This project is what we call a short-to-feature. As in, we are making a shortened version of it to secure the excitement, interest and funding to do the whole shebang. Here is a bit of the attention the script has received in both its short and full-length form: 

And though it’s amazing to have the institutions of the indie film community give us positive reinforcement, it still takes much more support to bring a story like this to the screen. 

Why We Need You 

As you probably noticed in the campaign video, a small portion of the film’s exterior moments are already shot (yes, that aerial drone footage is in the movie!). 

But we still have ALL the interior scenes (95% of the movie) with the actors and full crew yet to go. That will be followed by post production, which not only involves editing, but also coloring, sound designing/mixing and scoring the film. 

Short film budgets can range widely, but after much calculation based on our previous experience making indie shorts, we believe that $15,000 is the minimum amount we will need to make this thing happen.

This isn’t our first rodeo making a low-budget movie, and we have quite a bit of experience with where we can save money versus where we need to spend. We will pull out all the stops to get as much free, discounted or sponsored equipment/services as possible, but part of making a great film means not compromising on the quality of the final product. This commitment to excellence requires that we shoot in a location which fits the aesthetic of the story, design the set with a realistic feel for what the inside of Don's house looks like, and secure production insurance with good liability coverage. We also need to pay fair rates to our hard-working crew, who will endure hours of manual labor or studio time to help us realize our vision. 

We are very lucky to have worked with some amazing people in our young careers, many of whom will be with us again on The Lightkeeper. We believe that filmmaking is about collaborating — surrounding yourself with peers who love their jobs as much as you love yours. We hope you will collaborate with us too, not only with your financial support, but also with your trust in the talent of these artists and the potential for what they can create.

Our Cast 

Meg Steedle — Alison/Producer

Meg began her career in the theatre. In 2012, she landed the part of Broadway actress, flapper and Steve Buscemi’s mistress, "Billie Kent," on Season 3 of HBO's Boardwalk Empire and was nominated for a SAG Award for her performance, as part of Best Ensemble in a TV Drama. She then relocated to Los Angeles, where she was a lead in the USA Network pilot Horizon, produced by Gale Ann Hurd (The Walking Dead, Terminator), as well as playing Ashley Judd's daughter in the NBC pilot Salvation, directed by Jeff Reiner (Friday Night Lights, The Affair). Most recently, Meg appeared as Detective Frankie Pulaski on Season 1 of NBC’s The Mysteries of Laura. Her other television work includes Grey's Anatomy (ABC), Perception (TNT), American Horror Story (FX), Body of Proof (ABC), NCIS (CBS), Nashville (ABC) and the upcoming I’m Dying Up Here (Showtime). She can also be seen in the music video Nightlight by the Silversun Pickups, directed by Mark Pellington (The Mothman Prophecies, Arlington Road). Meg is a graduate from the School of Theatre at Northwestern University.

Bruce Davison — Don

Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actor Bruce Davison is a veteran of both the stage and screen. He is well-known for his starring role in the cult horror film Willard (1971), as well as his performance in Longtime Companion (1989), for which he was nominated as Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the 1991 Academy Awards, and won at both the 1991 Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards. He was featured prominently in the X-Men film franchise as antagonist Senator Robert Kelly. More recently, Bruce appeared in Fred Schepisi's Words and Pictures (2013), had a recurring role on ABC's The Fosters (2015–2016) and shares the screen with Miles Teller and Anna Kendrick in Get a Job (2016). Other credits include Kingdom (DirecTV), Seinfeld, The L Word, The Practice, Lost, Children’s Hospital, Luck (HBO), Saving Lincoln and opposite Daniel Day-Lewis, Joan Allen and Wynona Ryder in The Crucible.

Our Team

Zach Bandler — Writer/Director

Originally from Medford, Oregon, Zach started his career in the theatre, where he met his television writing partner performing together as actors Off-Broadway. Their first pilot, Hollywood and Vine, achieved a number of accolades and awards from screenwriting competitions, including Austin Film Festival and the PAGE Awards. The script was also given an industry presentation at the American Film Institute, starring Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) and Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) among the lead roles, and directed by Mark Polish (Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork, Independent Spirit Award for Jackpot). Zach made his directorial debut last year co-directing The Stairs, which stars two-time Tony Award-nominee Anthony Heald (Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, Boston Public) and is currently on the festival circuit. It won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the Ashland Independent Film Festival, Special Jury Prize for Best Film at the River’s Edge International Film Festival and was nominated for the Jury Prize at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. He is a graduate from Northwestern University's School of Theatre.

Victor Mazzone — Producer

Victor is a Los Angeles-based performing artist and producer. Upon completion of UCLA’s Program in Producing in 2015, Victor worked with Bandler and co-director Kelly Blatz for the first time when he produced their award-winning short film The Stairs, which explores the basic human need for connection between an older man and the male escort he hires on Christmas Eve. He recently teamed up again with Bandler on his script for Serenity (dir. Heather Tom), a short film about the opiate epidemic in America, which will be released in early 2017. Victor also produced and acted in the upcoming 1950s Hollywood noir, sleepwalk. He is currently performing as an original cast member in Disney’s world premiere theatrical production of Frozen. Graduate from Northwestern University.

Adam Sauermilch — Editor

Adam was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His passion for storytelling came at young age when, after many travels abroad, he witnessed the beautiful collision of cultures from country to country. He has worked for the past nine years as an editor on shorts, TV shows, music videos, commercials and documentaries. Companies featuring his work include Showtime, Woven, Buzzfeed, Complex Media, VICE, Converse, GM, Samsung, Adidas, Maxim Magazine, GQ, Glamour, E!, Atlantic Records and MTV. Graduate from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Jon Keng — Cinematographer

Originally from Singapore, Jon’s work revolves around visual storytelling and exploring the nuances of the human condition. He has lensed films across Singapore, London, Beijing and Los Angeles, screening at over 100 internationally renown film festivals across the world. His latest Singaporean short, Tadpoles, received the Jury Prize at the 66th Locarno International Film Festival. He is a recent graduate of the American Film Institute Conservatory's cinematography program, from which his film Fata Morgana was recently selected as part of this year’s short film program at AFI Fest.

Olivia Harris — Casting Director

Olivia has been working as a casting director for the past 30 years. In the 1980s, she cast for Warner Bros television and film, working on pilots and with casting director Phyllis Huffman on Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, Mystic River, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Space Cowboys, Pink Cadillac and Blood Work. In the 1990’s, she was Head of Casting for the WB Network in New York. Other New York casting credits include The Talented Mr. Ripley, 10,000 B.C., Spiderman 3, Meet the Fockers and The Cell. Recent projects include the ABC pilot Grace, the independent film The Last New Yorker and Easy, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and shown at Toronto International Film Festival. Olivia studied acting at Carnegie Mellon, Boston University, Second City Chicago, with Jerzy Grotowski in Poland and Herbert Berghof in New York.

Chad Dellinger — Production Designer

Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, Chad completed his BFA in Theatrical Set Design from SCAD and his MFA from San Diego State University’s School of Theatre, Television and Film. During his time at SDSU, Chad discovered that his passion for theatrical design could be a natural transition for designing for the camera. He designed a number of short films and worked in the design office of The Old Globe Theatre. Since completion of his degree, Chad has been designing in the Los Angeles theatre scene, production designing short films, and working in the art department for various television shows. In 2016, Chad became part of the ADG Apprentice Program, which led him to becoming an assistant art director for ABC's The Real O’Neals.

Megan Rose Greene — Assistant Director

Megan Rose Greene is a director and assistant director in independent film. Her AD work includes the festival-lauded short film The Stairs, directed by Zach Bandler and Kelly Blatz, as well as the pilot Pineapple for HBO and Adaptive Studios. She is a founding member of The Norton School, an art collective which recently launched their short film initiative with Hearts of Palm. Her directorial debut, sleepwalk, will be released on the festival circuit in 2017. Megan is a graduate from Northwestern University.

The Rewards

Here are a few of the things being offered (besides our gratitude) should you choose to support The Lightkeeper:

Personal Autographs from —

Meg! (Boardwalk Empire)
Meg! (Boardwalk Empire)

 

Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods)
Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods)

 

Kerry Bishé (AMC's Halt and Catch Fire)
Kerry Bishé (AMC's Halt and Catch Fire)

 

Emma Dumont (Bunheads)
Emma Dumont (Bunheads)

 

Heather Tom (The Bold and The Beautiful)
Heather Tom (The Bold and The Beautiful)

 

Max Jenkins (High Maintenance)
Max Jenkins (High Maintenance)

 

Adam Kantor (Rent on Broadway)
Adam Kantor (Rent on Broadway)

 

Britt Lower (FXX's Man Seeking Woman)
Britt Lower (FXX's Man Seeking Woman)

Limited Edition Original Artwork from the Film —

by comic/graphic artist Doodled Chaos
by comic/graphic artist Doodled Chaos

 House Seats + Backstage Tour of a Broadway Show —

Fiddler on the Roof, playing through 12/31/16
Fiddler on the Roof, playing through 12/31/16

 

Risks and challenges

Making a film has all sorts of risks that go with the territory. Some are foreseeable and mitigated with good organization, but some are unforeseeable — such as equipment malfunction or inclement weather. However, with proper planning, creative thinking and flexibility, production can and will come in on time and on budget, even when we are confronted with problems to solve. We are confident in the team we have put together and we know they are up for any challenge, whether it's on set or in the editing room.

Neither of us have ever been more determined to bring something into being. We want to make this film because we believe it has something universal to say to viewers. About time and regret. About age. About the complex relationship between parents and children. And about the fact that it is never too late to start over.

Nothing would be more meaningful for us than to have you help us make The Lightkeeper a reality.

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    Secret Video Clips

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    NEW - Autograph: Billy Magnussen

    Billy Magnussen, who played Rapunzel's Prince in Disney's film INTO THE WOODS and Kato Kaelin in FX's THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON, will make out a personal autograph to you! Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    NEW - Meg Steedle Autographs

    Due to this reward's popularity, Meg is signing a few more! Thanks for supporting the film!!

    Were you a BOARDWALK EMPIRE fan? Meg, who played Billie Kent on the show, will make out a personal autograph to you! Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Personal Autograph: Britt Lower

    Britt Lower, from Hulu's CASUAL and FXX's MAN SEEKING WOMAN, will make out a personal autograph to you! Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Personal Autograph: Emma Dumont

    Emma Dumont, of ABC Family's BUNHEADS and NBC's AQUARIUS, will make out a personal autograph to you! Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Personal Autograph: Heather Tom

    Emmy Award-winning actress Heather Tom, of CBS' THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, will make out a personal autograph to you! Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Personal Autograph: Max Jenkins

    Max Jenkins, of HBO's HIGH MAINTENANCE and NBC's THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA, will make out a personal autograph to you! Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Personal Autograph: Adam Kantor

    Adam Kantor, who starred as Mark in the final cast of RENT on Broadway, Off Broadway in THE LAST FIVE YEARS and now appears in Broadway's FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, will make out a personal autograph to you! Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Limited Edition Cast/Crew Signed Poster

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    Screen Credit

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    Tickets to Film Preview

    Join our team and very special guests for a screening of the film before it's released! (Los Angeles only/travel not included)

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    Acting Coaching with Meg Steedle

    Working on an acting career of your own? Or have you always wanted to know the in's and out's of being in front of the camera? Have a 30-minute personal coaching session via Skype/Google with our SAG Award-nominated lead actress Meg Steedle!

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    Acting or Writing Coaching with Director

    What about writing? Have ideas you're trying to work out for the next big film? Have a 30-minute personal coaching session via Skype/Google with writer/director Zach Bandler.

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    Contribute a Prop

    Something special of yours you'd like to see on screen (like a keepsake)? We'll make it a part of the art and find a way to put it in frame during the film! (We will need to make sure there is no liability first, so please message us beforehand to make sure).

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    Hour Coaching with Meg Steedle

    Have a 60-minute one-on-one acting coaching with our lead actress Meg Steedle! This can be done in-person (LA only) or via Skype/Google.

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    Hour Coaching with the Director

    Have a 60-minute one-on-one acting or writing coaching with writer/director Zach Bandler! This can be done in-person (LA only) or via Skype/Google.

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    Coaching with a Casting Director

    Want coaching and feedback from a real film/TV casting director? Casting director Amanda Tudesco (MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, BONES (Fox), GUILT (Freeform), UNCLE BUCK (ABC), and Fox's BACKSTROM) will work with you for a full hour on your stuff! In-person (LA only) or via Skype/Google. (This coaching is for educational purposes and doesn't guarantee employment.)

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    Script Notes from the Director

    That's right! If you have a film, TV pilot or play you've been working on, writer/director Zach Bandler will read it and give you industry-quality notes.

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    4 Broadway Tickets + Backstage Tour

    Get house seats for you and 3 guests to Broadway's FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, plus a backstage tour with Adam Kantor (playing the lead "Motel the Tailor") afterward! (Travel/accommodations in New York City not included. Show closes 12/31/16, so this reward will be given immediately after Kickstarter is reached!)

    Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Your Own Short Film

    Do you have a concept or world you've always known would be an amazing film if you could only write it? Writer/director Zach Bandler will write it into a short film script for you!

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    Associate Producer

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    Spend a Day on Set

    Ever wanted to truly see what it takes to make a film? Come spend a day on set with the cast and crew! (Lunch on set included. Travel and accommodation in Los Angeles not included.)

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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    Producer

    IMDb and on-screen credit as a producer, plus join us in the conversation. Monthly updates directly from the creative team throughout the process as we work toward completing the film.

    Includes tickets to the LA screening, digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About US$ 5,000

    Executive Producer

    If you've ever truly wanted to get into the film industry and are passionate about the types of stories we're telling on screen, let's build a collaborative relationship together.

    Includes tickets to the screening, digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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  28. Reward no longer available

    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Personal Autograph: Kerry Bishé

    Kerry Bishé, from AMC's HALT AND CATCH FIRE, the film ARGO and now a lead on Netflix's NARCOS, will make out a personal autograph to you! Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 5 backers
    $

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  29. Reward no longer available

    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Personal Autograph: Meg Steedle

    Were you a BOARDWALK EMPIRE fan? Meg, who played Billie Kent on the show, will make out a personal autograph to you! Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Reward no longer available 5 backers
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    Pledge US$ 60 or more About US$ 60

    Limited Edition Artwork from the Film

    Inspired by a scene from the film and created by comic/graphic artist Brandon Ruiter. Check him out on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/doodledchaos/

    Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Reward no longer available 4 backers
    $

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  31. Reward no longer available

    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    Limited Edition Production Still Photo

    Get a beautiful limited edition 16x20 still frame from the film. Only 5 will be printed and this will be sure to look stunning framed on your wall!

    Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Reward no longer available 5 backers
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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    2 Broadway Tickets + Backstage Tour

    Get house seats for you and a guest to Broadway's FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, plus a backstage tour with Adam Kantor (playing the lead "Motel the Tailor") afterward! (Travel/accommodations in New York City not included. Show closes 12/31/16, so this reward will be given immediately after Kickstarter goal is reached!)

    Plus digital access to the film, social media tag and secret clips.

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    Reward no longer available 2 backers
    $

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Funding period

- (30 days)