*The film will be shot using the Panasonic HMC 150 HD camera (not the camera used to film the above video).
What you'll see/hear:
-A maritime drama penned by Richard Hartshorn, MFA fiction writer and recipient of the 2011 Richard Bausch Short Story Prize
-Fight choreography by Justin Aucoin, longtime practitioner of traditional sabre fencing
-Portrayals of legendary/real-life pirates, including Anne Bonny, Calico Jack, Henry Morgan, Mary Read, Grace O'Malley, Charles Vane, and Blackbeard
-An epic original score
-An independent collaboration between artists in the Northeastern US
The film takes place somewhere between 1718 and 1720. Anne Bonny and John "Calico Jack" Rackham, already having an illegal affair, decide to forgo the King's Pardon (issued to all pirates who agreed to change their ways) and run away on the high seas together after stealing a famous sloop. They are joined by a crew that includes the stalwart and fearless Mary Read, a former military woman dressed as a man. Their expedition for fortune catches the attention of Woodes Rogers, the new Governor of Nassau, who has been hanging pirates daily below the ramparts and swears to make further example of Rackham's crew.
The film will attempt an accurate portrayal of pirates, both as misunderstood ruffians (in rare cases) and as savage ne'er-do-wells who made life terrifying for honest people and especially the corrupt power structures. The film will also explore the sexuality of the period (a time wherein homosexuality was punishable by death), in the form of Calixta, a fictional character working for Governor Rogers as a record-keeper. Also featured in the story will be Captain Edward "Blackbeard" Teach, the spectral (or not?) forms of Sir Henry Morgan and the Pirate Queen Grace O'Malley, and the writer/director's take on what the true identity of Captain Charles Johnson, author of the singular volume of factual pirate history in existence (and upon which most "facts" about the lives of pirates are based), may have been. As we all know, Anne Bonny disappeared from the historical record after her execution was stayed; the film will also delve into and romanticize what may have happened to her.
Since little real information is available on the early lives of Caribbean pirates prior to their fame, the story will explore the "why": Why was Calico Jack constantly described as "reckless" (i.e. what would have caused him to make such brash, objectionable decisions?)? What would it have been like to be a woman in those times, especially a woman who actively smashed the status quo? How did modern-day pirates idolize or demonize the successful pirates of 100 years prior? The theme of identity is this story's fuel.
While the film can be classified as "historical fiction," it does not seek to revise history. Because of the lack of real information concerning the three main characters, and the general dubiousness of Captain Johnson's sources, many of the film's details will be embellished (e.g. speech, original dialogue, fashions, and so on), but that does not mean relying on "tropes" commonly associated with the Golden Age of Piracy - treasure maps, eye-patches, "arr matey" dialogue, the Black Spot, and other fictional conventions invented by R.L. Stevenson in the 1880s (more than 150 years after actual pirates commanded the seas).
Richard Hartshorn's writing, always character-centric (not heavy on concept) and generally seen as having a feminist trajectory, will determine the film's tone and direction.
Ultimately, this is a film by storytellers, and it seeks to tell a story about characters above all. The entire cast is American, but we feel that giving honest performances and a heartfelt effort to realize these characters as people are more important than hamming it up with a fake European accent in order to provide exactly what one might expect from the pirate/adventure genre.
Our Approach to Filming
If you have seen our previous work, you know you can expect quality and lots of heart, but we believe in approaching these projects in a way that is both challenging and manageable for a small group of artists in Upstate NY. We will film where we can. If we have more support, we can travel farther. Some of the cast are trained actors; some are just people with a passion for the material. Sometimes the technology of the fiction is bumped forward a few years in order to remedy production constraints. We strongly feel that this should not take away from enjoyment, engagement in the story, or involvement in the plights of the characters. We are all about character and story. We do not feel that background anachronisms (for example, 18th-century characters speaking in American accents, or a coniferous tree in a location where there wouldn't be one) compromise this quality.
Aside from our storytelling goals, our other aims are as follows: we would like to have a rough cut of the film finished by Fall 2013. We will then do the in-depth editing, finalize music, and take care of pickups. Should this goal succeed (expedited by your generous support), your rewards will reach you in time for the 2013 Holiday Season or shortly thereafter.
Why we need your support
We are a group of creatives whose projects grow out of a hunger to share stories and ideas. We seek to involve those passionate about films, independent art, literary takes on genre, and in this case, maritime history and gender identity, in whatever capacity possible. We have always kept our projects small, in-house, and out-of-pocket. Our target funding goal may seem modest for a project like this, but we are not a major film studio and have always made films in the absence of a money-hose. As this film is our biggest challenge yet, your generous support will help us focus on the creative process and eventually deliver you a piece we are proud of.
Check out the trailer for Wings Over Arda: The First Age, a film we made in 2010 on an even smaller budget:
During the making of Arda, Richard Hartshorn (also writer/director for that film) kept a film diary that was published in Numero Cinq Magazine, run by highly-renowned and prize-winning Canadian writer Douglas Glover, author of the subversive maritime novel Elle. Get a look into our process by flipping through the diary here.
How we will use your funding
-Materials for more authentic costumes and props
-Travel expenses for locations we would not be able to reach on our own dime
-Resources for self-built sets
-DVD packaging and sleeves for higher-quality rewards
-Any arising expenses related to film production that would have caused unbreachable roadblocks otherwise.
We will continue updating this page to keep everyone informed on how the film is coming along. The Wings Over Arda Facebook Page will also post updates on cast information.
We look forward to interacting with all of you. Thank you for continuing to support independent art.
Risks and challenges
At the launch of this Kickstarter page, we are in pre-production. The screenplay is being penned and revised, the cast is being assembled, locations are being scouted, costumes are being designed and sewn, props are being built/ordered/borrowed, and travel is being planned. We will begin shooting in June and aim to finish principal photography by the end of July. Possible hindrances include matching cast and crew schedules, as most of us work full-time and have other obligations, so please understand if we take extra time to make sure that your rewards are as satisfying as they can be. However, we are committed to this project and dead-set on producing something we can be proud to deliver to you, and that you can be proud to display on your movie shelf. Production delays happen in the absence of studio requirements, but we will try our best to adhere to our self-imposed deadline of Holiday 2013.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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