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A former gunslinger and his family brave a savage untamed world of killers, highway robbery, Indian raids, and fabled treasure.
A former gunslinger and his family brave a savage untamed world of killers, highway robbery, Indian raids, and fabled treasure.
33 backers pledged $11,137 to help bring this project to life.

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The Big Muddy, finishing a western series

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“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.

Chris H.

Writer and Director
https://www.facebook.com/ChrisHoffertFilm

Chris Hoffert working with cast and crew members during filming on the Big Muddy series.
Chris Hoffert working with cast and crew members during filming on the Big Muddy series.

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.

THE VISUALS:

Perry Shank (Henry Longfellow) and Martin Hoffert (William Sackett) 'Sins of the Past' (2014) filmed on Canon T3i DSLR cameras.
Perry Shank (Henry Longfellow) and Martin Hoffert (William Sackett) 'Sins of the Past' (2014) filmed on Canon T3i DSLR cameras.
Martin Hoffert (William Sackett) and Clayton Marxer (Charlie Weyland) 'Money, Blood, and Tombstones' (2017) filmed on our new BM Cinema Cameras.
Martin Hoffert (William Sackett) and Clayton Marxer (Charlie Weyland) 'Money, Blood, and Tombstones' (2017) filmed on our new BM Cinema Cameras.
Martin Hoffert (William Sackett), Ben Anderson (Doyle McCormack), and Cavalry Troopers 'Indian Gold' (2017) filmed on our new BM Cinema Cameras.
Martin Hoffert (William Sackett), Ben Anderson (Doyle McCormack), and Cavalry Troopers 'Indian Gold' (2017) filmed on our new BM Cinema Cameras.

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!

Screen grabs from the final shoot out in 'Sins of the Past' (2014)
Screen grabs from the final shoot out in 'Sins of the Past' (2014)
‘Money, Blood, and Tombstones’ (2017) with Martin Hoffert, Stan Smith, Jake Barciz, and Cory Birkenbuel.
‘Money, Blood, and Tombstones’ (2017) with Martin Hoffert, Stan Smith, Jake Barciz, and Cory Birkenbuel.
‘Indian Gold’ (2017) with Martin Hoffert, Ben Anderson AnnellaJo Perry, and Bryan Ezzell.
‘Indian Gold’ (2017) with Martin Hoffert, Ben Anderson AnnellaJo Perry, and Bryan Ezzell.

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 closing image from 'Sins of the Past' (2014)
The closing image from 'Sins of the Past' (2014)

THE TEAM

"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

Cast and crew members after the completion of the first day's filming, 'Sins of the Past' (2014).
Cast and crew members after the completion of the first day's filming, 'Sins of the Past' (2014).
Cast and crew members during filming of ‘Money, Blood, and Tombstones’ (2015).
Cast and crew members during filming of ‘Money, Blood, and Tombstones’ (2015).
Cast and crew members after the completion of filming on ‘Indian Gold’ (2015).
Cast and crew members after the completion of filming on ‘Indian Gold’ (2015).

 Without further ado, The Big Muddy film series:

https://www.facebook.com/TheBigMuddySeries

http://hoffert17.wix.com/thebigmuddyseries

Part I – ‘Sins of the Past’ (20 minute TRT) – Pilot (RELEASED 5 January 2015) Starring Martin Hoffert and Perry Shank

Filming and release complete.
Filming and release complete.

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

Filming complete, in post-production.
Filming complete, in post-production.

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

Filming complete, in post-production.
Filming complete, in post-production.

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

Tentatively scheduled for filming May-June 2016.
Tentatively scheduled for filming May-June 2016.

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

Tentatively scheduled for filming July-September 2016.
Tentatively scheduled for filming July-September 2016.

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.

FOOD:

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.

A fed crew is a happy crew.
A fed crew is a happy crew.

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.

Most of the cast and crew are real life cowboys and re-enactors.
Most of the cast and crew are real life cowboys and re-enactors.

Locations

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.

Bannack State Park is one of our original locations from ‘Sins of the Past’ and has been our go to place for last year’s filming.
Bannack State Park is one of our original locations from ‘Sins of the Past’ and has been our go to place for last year’s filming.
The Ghost Wolf Ranch was a late location that became available while filming ‘Money, Blood, and Tombstones’ and part of ‘Indian Gold’ was filmed there.  We intend to incorporate this lovely locale into our next two segments.
The Ghost Wolf Ranch was a late location that became available while filming ‘Money, Blood, and Tombstones’ and part of ‘Indian Gold’ was filmed there. We intend to incorporate this lovely locale into our next two segments.
The Ruby Dell Ranch came up during pre-production on ‘Money, Blood, and Tombstones’ and the finale for that segment was actually filmed at a derelict old cabin located on the ranch and did night filming in the main area.
The Ruby Dell Ranch came up during pre-production on ‘Money, Blood, and Tombstones’ and the finale for that segment was actually filmed at a derelict old cabin located on the ranch and did night filming in the main area.

 SOUNDTRACK SAMPLER:

‘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)

http://backtrackwest1876.com/

‘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)

https://www.facebook.com/thebigmuddyseries

‘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).

https://www.facebook.com/unsungheroesmovie

‘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:

We have a lot of fun and are always looking for likeminded individuals to join in with us on our adventures.
We have a lot of fun and are always looking for likeminded individuals to join in with us on our adventures.

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

LEGAL STUFF:
• 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.

CONCLUSION:
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.

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    SPECIAL THANK YOU CREDIT// For your contribution you will receive a mention in the film’s credits and a shout out on the series Facebook page.

    Films are made possible by a wide range of funding options and we at Aviation Pictures and In My Tent Productions take great pride in making sure that the audience is engaged and acknowledged throughout the process. Without fan's, films are nothing more than paper weights on a Producer's desk.

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    BOOST THE POPULARITY// In order to help try and topple the popularity lists we need great backers like you and your friends.

    With this very special tier we'll give you a shout out on the series page, a signed thank you certificate, and a signed photo from production.

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    MUSIC LOVER’S DELIGHT// For your contribution you will receive a mention in the film's credits, a shout out on the series Facebook page, and a limited edition soundtrack CD filled to the brim with music from our composer.

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    STARTER FAN PACKAGE// For your contribution you will receive a mention in the film's credits, a shout out on the series Facebook page, and a complimentary download of Sins of the Past and Contested Ground, the Story of the Little Bighorn Battle.

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    I WANT IT NOW// Want something immediately?

    With this perk we'll give you instant gratification with a complimentary download of Sins of the Past and Contested Ground, the Story of the Little Bighorn Battle as well as a complimentary download of each installment as they become available.

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    HARCORE FAN PACKAGE// For your contribution you will receive a mention in the film's credits, a shout out on the series Facebook page, a complimentary download of each episode as they are released as well as a complimentary download of Contested Ground, the Story of the Little Bighorn Battle.

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    A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS// Want to look like you just robbed an old west bank?

    We've made tons of props for this series and with this reward we're going to give you your very own 1890's period correct wad of faux cash, $419 to be exact. Of course these cannot double for their real life counterparts, as that would be counterfeiting, but they are pretty darn close.

    You’ll receive $419 in a mixture of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, and $50 bills that we created, treated for use, and weathered to look old.

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    ULTIMATE FAN PACKAGE// For your contribution you will receive a mention in the film's credits, a shout out on the series Facebook page, a digital download copy of each episode as they are released, and a signed copy of one of the episode scripts of your choosing.

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    ULTIMATE READER'S PACKAGE// Are you a reading fan? Here's your chance to get a signed copy of all the episode scripts and complimentary downloads of each installment as they are released.

    You can read along as you watch to see how scripts change through filming and editing.

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    CO-PRODUCER PACKAGE// You have achieved a BRONZE status!

    Congratulations, you're a major part of the filmmaking process now. You will receive a special shout out on the series Facebook page, you will get to be part of the action from start to finish, a signed copy of one of the episode scripts of your choosing, a digital download copy of each episode as they are released, and a 'Co-Producer' title credit.

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    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER PACKAGE// You have achieved a SILVER status!

    Producers are the non-creative backbone of any piece of entertainment. You will receive a special shout out on the series Facebook page, you will be immersed in the creative process with the rest of the cast and crew with production updates, a digital download copy of each episode as they are released, a signed copy of all the scripts, and an 'Associate Producer' title credit.

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    THE ASSOCIATE PRODUCER OUTLAW CHALLENGE// Wanna really look the part of a straight up western outlaw? Here’s your chance.

    By selecting this one time only reward from us you’re answering William Sackett’s challenge to match a small portion of his personal contribution to the budget thus making you an associate producer but rather than the tangible rewards given at the $500 tier we’re going to send you a 1 to 1 scale, Colt endorsed replica, CO2 single action .45 Army Colt Peacemaker we’ll be using in one of the films! Along with that you’ll also receive one of our inert sticks of dynamite, six .45 Long Colt stunt bullets, a wad of our period accurate faux cash, and a signed picture of Martin Hoffert wielding it during filming.

    This reward will make Halloween interesting for you this year since everything will absolutely look like the real deal. As a liability note, this is a replica BB air gun and you could shoot your eye out so follow all safety precautions, state laws, and we are not liable for any accidents after it leaves our hands.

    If you live in any of the following states contact us first to ensure that you meet state law to own and/or possess an “air gun”: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, or Washington.

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    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER PACKAGE// You have achieved a GOLD status!

    Executive Producers are invariably the monetary backbone of all films and share in some of the creative decisions for the final product. Apart from an open invitation to each shoot day and a cameo role if you so desire; you will also receive a special shout out on the series Facebook page, you will become a member of the creative design team and be privy to exclusive content as the production develops, a digital download copy of each episode as they are released, a signed copy of all the scripts, and a prestigious 'Executive Producer' title credit in the opening sequence.

    *NOTE: Transportation to and from filming locations in Montana are not provided and you must coordinate with the filmmaking team if you plan to attend any shoots for insurance purposes.

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    ELITE PACKAGE// You have achieved an ELITE status!

    Holy smokes, you're a high roller and for that you will receive all of the perks, rewards, and prestige that accompanies the Executive Producer tier with the addition to paid lodging for filming days you want to attend for any one episode of your choosing and you will be directly involved with the cast and crew during the shoots.

    *NOTE: Transportation within the state of Montana will be computed at 75% of mileage versus current gas rates and paid in full at the conclusion of your stay and you must coordinate with the filmmaking team if you plan to attend any shoots for insurance purposes.

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    THE FULL MONTY PACKAGE// You are the cream of the crop with the PERFECT TEN status!

    You are the tip of the spear for an entire episode! Your contribution just paid for a whole episode's production and for that an entire episode will be dedicated specifically to you, or person of your choosing, with special crediting at the opening credits and ending credits.

    You'll receive all the same Executive Producer rewards, your lodging for one episode's shoot days will be provided at no additional cost, and you'll work side by side with the director during filming as the 1st Assistant Director. You'll also have an open invitation to attend any "red carpet" events.

    *NOTE: Transportation within the state of Montana will be computed at 75% of mileage versus current gas rates and paid in full at the conclusion of your stay and you must coordinate with the filmmaking team if you plan to attend any shoots for insurance purposes.

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    SERIOUS SERIES EXECUTIVE// You’re now one of the series execs!

    Your contribution gets you added to the top tier executives of the series. With this comes exclusive advertising outside of the installment in the overall scheme of the production. You’ll be privy to the other executive cross talk and be able to offer opinions on various aspects of the production however any official changes must be authorized by me as the lead executive producer.

    You'll receive all the same Executive Producer rewards, your lodging for all shoot days will be provided at no cost, and you’ll receive express VIP treatment on the set. A series executive's oversight follows the production through the entire production rather than just one installment and as such you'll be along for the entire ride and will likewise be invited to any "red carpet" events.

    *NOTE: You must coordinate with the filmmaking team if you plan to attend any shoots for insurance purposes.

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  17. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 8,000 or more About US$ 8,000

    GOD AMONGST FILMMAKERS// You personally cranked this production to 11.

    You pretty much singlehandedly funded the entire series and let’s just say, THAT’S BADASS! Let's be frank, if you're picking this reward you're the default MVP of the production and your name will be plastered all over the credits, social media, local news, film festivals; anywhere the series goes.

    Also, I treasure my director’s chair dearly but for your superior vote of confidence in us, it’s yours to take as a personal memento from me. You’ll also get all the executive perks but on top of that we’ll give you the express VIP treatment on and off the set. As well as an open invitation to any "red carpet" events.

    *NOTE: You must coordinate with the filmmaking team if you plan to attend any shoots for insurance purposes.

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  18. Reward no longer available

    Pledge US$ 800 or more About US$ 800

    THE DUKE// This is a one of a kind reward. We'll send you a complete gunfighter's rig complete with belt, holster, pistol (air pistol replica), and a fill the bullet loops with our.45 LC prop rounds.

    **The pistol is a Colt replica that uses CO2 cartridges to fire BB's and is not a real firing pistol. The prop rounds are inert stunt rounds that we created for costuming purposes only and cannot be fired.

    If you live in any of the following states contact us first to ensure that you meet state law to own and/or possess an “air gun”: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, or Washington.

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Funding period

- (14 days)