“One of the great things about being a director as a life choice is that it can never be mastered. Every story is its own kind of expedition, with its own set of challenges."
- Ron Howard
My name is Chris Hoffert. In 2014 I wrote, directed, and produced a 20 minute student short film, Sins of the Past, for my academics and midpoint review at the Academy of Art University. At the time I didn’t think much would come of the film beyond grades and critiques but something very special happened, people liked it! The film received accolades from instructors, students, and peers alike; all heralding the film as an impressive achievement given what we had to work with at the time.
'Sins' went on to become an award winning film earning a best narrative fiction win at the Magic City Shorts Film Festival last year and became the foundation for this series. I figured since we already had the team assembled, locations worked out, props and costuming in hand, and a continuing desire to stay in the western genre that we would explore this as a series and shoot in installments. Last year we were able to film half the series with a previous Kickstarter campaign and now we are ready to finish the series and release it at a red carpet event here in Montana in the New Year.
Writer and Director
A SHORT FILM THAT CREATED A SERIES:
'Sins of the Past’ started off as an in-depth student short film reaching for a high quality of production design with a minimalistic budget. We anticipated it costing $3,000 and came in $700 under budget. Director David Worth, 'Kickboxer', heralded the film as; "the best student film I've seen in 8 years of academia."
Working with James Lindsey, producer and professional sound recording artist, writer/director Chris Hoffert and actor/producer Martin Hoffert wrote a short film series designed in the same manner as the western series books by Louis L’ amour and LLona Andrews where each production can be its own standalone film but also part of a larger story structure.
In order to reach a high level of appeal we picked story concepts, inspired by historical context that would satisfy a wide audience base. We are also combining some of the loveable traits of “spaghetti western” themes with the more gritty and emotionally charged new age looks and feel of westerns such as ‘Open Range’, ‘Unforgiven’, ‘3:10 to Yuma’, and the ‘Lonesome Dove’ series for an even wider appeal that stays 100% true to the western action/drama genre.
With the visuals we really wanted to mix traditional western cinematography and lighting with newer techniques for a somewhat nostalgic feel without being too "retro". Director of Photography, Tim Palmer - DP 'Critical' (2015) commented on 'Sins of the Past', "I've been following this project for a long time now. You and I both know what you do well: the mix of candle light and moonlight, the low key night exterior showing only what you want the audience to see, the attention to detail (glints on the knife and gun barrel at EXACTLY the right time)….the list is endless."
Since ‘Sins of the Past’ we have been able to upgrade to theater quality Blackmagic Design cinema cameras, built a new top of the line non-linear editing computer for the new 2.5k RAW video format, expanded our professional cinematography shot capabilities, added dozens of lighting options to the grip package, rounded out and expanded our audio capture abilities with professional quality tools, and have a full line up of quality lenses.We are now a medium sized studio that can compete with any professional regional independent film company!
Our promise to you is that we will produce a series filled with a high quality of cinematic and story appeal, for you and all the audience to enjoy, and is an adventure in the making that we would love to take you along on. Your contribution is a vote of trust that we do not take lightly and hold in the highest regard because it gives us the flexibility to maintain creative control over the project rather than surrender it to a third party. By helping bring this project to fruition you will share in the wonderful feeling of new creative beginnings and likewise have your name affixed to a set of films that you’ll be proud to share with others.
"The cast and crew of Sins of the Past is by far the best and most dedicated team I've ever had the pleasure of working with." - Chris Hoffert
Without further ado, The Big Muddy film series:
Part I – ‘Sins of the Past’ (20 minute TRT) – Pilot (RELEASED 5 January 2015) Starring Martin Hoffert and Perry Shank
William Sackett, a retired gunfighter, must call upon the skills of his former life in order to protect his family from a new threat born from his past mistakes.
Part II – ‘Money, Blood, and Tombstones’ (32 minute TRT) Starring: Martin Hoffert, Stan Smith, Jake Barciz, Clayton Marxer, and Cory Birkenbuel
William Sackett gets back in the saddle when the local sheriff and a cocky gunhand enlists his help to capture a deadly gang of notorious killers after a bank robbery turns bloody.
Part III – ‘Indian Gold’ (36 minute TRT) Starring: Martin Hoffert, Ben Anderson, AnnellaJo Perry, Bryan Ezzell, and Stone Smith
William Sackett's past comes back to haunt him once more when greedy treasure seekers learn he might be hiding a fabled treasure looted from the Battle of the Little Bighorn and they'll stop at nothing to retrieve it.
Part IV – ‘Family Ties’ (32 minute TRT) Starring: Martin Hoffert, Stone Smith, and Matthew Yetter
John Sackett leaves home against his father's wishes and finds himself with a haphazard bounty hunter; after a job goes sour William must ride against time to save his son.
Part V – ‘Savage Winter’ (45 minute TRT) - Finale Starring: Martin Hoffert, Mary Riitano, Jake Barciz, David Duster, Cory Birkenbuel, and Stone Smith
William teams up with some old friends in order to rescue a local teacher and her students before they can be sold as slaves by renegade Indians.
HOW ARE YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS BEING SPENT?
The money raised through this campaign is entirely for the principal photography budgets. Some of the production aspects your contribution gives us are food, lodging, gas stipends for those that have to drive long distances, permits, insurance, service and support, and animals with trained wranglers. As has been our policy for the last five years, every cent of your contributions directly support the PEOPLE working on the project.We stretch every dollar to get the best bang for the buck and never waste funds on endless means.
Feeding people makes them happy and more productive.Debra Hoffert and Dena Carlin were gracious enough to cater most of our filming events with money we had raised previously and it made the long days much better.
Service and Support
It’s a western so acquiring horses and other animals is almost always a must and with that come specially trained personnel to work with the animals as well as provide safety and training for actors as well.
With locations comes insurance, about $1,000, and with insurance comes permits, about $200 a day. Since we filmed ‘Sins of the Past’ we have acquired several filming locations and built working relationships with great and wonderful sites such as Bannack Ghost Town, the Ghost Wolf Ranch, and other excellent outdoor locales across the state.
‘Gunfire and Suffering’ – Skyler O’Neal
‘Battle Drums’ – Skyler O’Neal
‘Preparations for War’ – Skyler O’Neal
‘Hot on the Trail’ –Skyler O’Neal
‘Indian Gold Theme’ – Skyler O’Neal
SOME OF OUR RECENT FILM WORK:
‘Contested Ground’ (2016) – DVD Release
A one hour documentary on the Battle of the Little Bighorn that is bound with the book Little Bighorn, Voices From a Distant Wind by Steve Adelson.
“Chris Hoffert and Steve Adelson bring reality and grit to the history of the Battle of Little Big Horn and Custer’s Last Stand. This documentary not only depicts the strategies and tactics of both sides but also digs into the personalities and emotions of the all the leaders so the audience can understand the stakes. Steve Adelson’s writing and narration brings to life the emotions of those two days in June of 1876 and Chris Hoffert’s direction brings the vision and depth. Well done.”
Lee Redmond, director (Final Mission) Special Effects (Fire in the Sky) Camera Operator (Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Tour of Duty)
‘Sins of the Past’ (2015) - Official selection into the 2015 Magic City Shorts Film Festival
"The best Student Film I’ve seen in my 8 years of academia.”
David Worth, director (Kickboxer) director of photography (Bloodsport/Bronco Billy/Any Which Way You Can)
‘Unsung Heroes’ (2014) – DVD Release
Raised over $1,000 for Montana veteran's charities!
"Chris Hoffert’s new film 'Unsung Heroes' has hit on an important current topic of our time, that of our veterans experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As an emerging filmmaker, Chris has tackled the subject with heart and sensitivity, and has not shied away from showing the truth...Chris has brought us into the unseen pain that many of our veterans are experiencing."
Dale Dye, CEO ‘Warriors Inc.’ (Consultant for film-Saving Private Ryan/Band of Brothers/Forrest Gump/The Pacific).
‘A Soldier’s Letter’ (2013) – Project Green Light Submission
Official selection into the 2014 Magic City Shorts Film Festival, official entry into Project Greenlight
Four academic A’s for editing and two academic A’s for story and production design at AAU; over 120,000 views via Facebook; and entered into Project Greenlight, 2014.
On behalf of the entire team, THANK YOU. By contributing you instantly become involved in the process, raising the budget, and building the fan base. Then we'll be able to roll cameras and yell action!
GO BEHIND THE SCENES:
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge, other than raising the funds to shoot the installments, is distribution – ‘The Big Muddy’ does not have a distribution sponsor attached; yet. Martin Hoffert, myself, and the other executive producers are truly doing this all ourselves with the help of associate producers, co-producers, and you. In this industry it’s hard to maintain creative rights and liberties when you sell the product away so I have assembled a team of likeminded individuals who will ensure that we maintain control of the final product. Apart from my fan base, and through networked members of the team, we will seek out advertising sponsors with an emphasis on release and distribution through established web channels and venues such as film festivals for select films within the series and I will couple this with individual DVD sales and a series DVD with the goal of at least breaking even and with a little luck and extensive networking will have it; a profit. As with all my films, I do not take personal pay or royalties. I'm in it for the sport and adventure and any money that I can raise through my work goes into future projects or charitable donations to veteran's organizations.
Our goal is to premiere the entire series here in Montana on a limited run around the New Year of 2017. This is prone to change to the left or right depending on post-production completion for all films.
I will take on the responsibility of pushing out the physical reward items at the earliest convenience they become available. Some items are available immediately where some will need to be manufactured as each production progresses. Each contributor who selects a reward tier containing a physical item will receive a survey at the completion of the campaign for mailing addresses which can be updated at any time prior to shipment. **The personal information you submit to us will not be shared outside of the campaign nor will you receive any emails from this production outside of the Kickstarter website.
Weather in Montana can always be unpredictable, especially during the transitional months. Given the historical track record, the only installment which might be hampered by weather would be 'Savage Winter'. If weather is not permissible enough to complete filming we will postpone that installment until the end of winter however at the moment the plan is to shoot earlier than expected and/or work around any potential delays
• For those of you visiting our set, we anticipate shooting between July and October in various parts of western Montana. This is prone to change and we will keep you updated so you can plan ahead if you wish to visit us.
• If you have an open invitation to attend the set ($250 - $500 reward) or selected to cameo ($750 - $4,000 reward), you must be a US citizen or have a US work visa, and not be a member of SAG/AFTRA. **The producers who are invited to work alongside the director ($1,500 - $4,000 reward) will be subject to the director’s authority for the duration they attend and will at no time, by personal action, cause a production to be delayed or halted for any reason and will follow all applicable safety precautions set forth within the production insurance.
• You must be over 18 or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian (who will count as your plus one) to visit the set. Extras must also be over 18.
• Some rewards may require additional paperwork. If you are appearing in the film, you will have to sign a release.
• This fundraising campaign is all subject to applicable Kickstarter rules/regulations, movie guild rules and applicable law. If any of this conflicts, we will work with you in good faith to give you a substitute reward.
Making films is a crazy business, with a lot of unknowns. We have a set of scripts I'm really proud of. We are assembling the best team possible, we’ll get insurance, and make back-up plans but it's absolutely impossible to promise everything will come together completely as planned, but at the end of the day, we will get a set of films in the can that we all will be proud to have helped make. It's an exciting journey and this is your chance to hitch a ride destined for creative adventure. I thank all of you who contribute in advance and encourage you to become an active member of our team.
- (14 days)