Thanks to all of you, we are officially making the feature film AXIS! You are incredible. All of your supportive tweets, Facebook posts, messages and emails have been extraordinary. Thank you so much for being a part of this life-changing experience.
Read below if you want to learn more about the origins of this film. There's no more time left to join, but if you're already a backer, check out the updates page for ongoing communication from the set of AXIS and beyond.
YOU. GUYS. ROCK.
PS. Obviously, I didn't do a cocktail video every day of the last week of the campaign. I was too busy diving into making the film! But I will do periodic cocktail updates throughout production. So if you're a backer, stay tuned for that! Cheers!
Hi! My name is Aisha Tyler. I’m not going to assume you know me. That would be pretty self-involved. It’s highly likely you don’t know me at all.
But if you did know me, chances are you might know me from:
The above may seem like a humblebrag. I apologize if it does. Truthfully, I am insanely lucky to have been working in the entertainment industry — as an actor, standup comedian, television host, author, and podcaster — for more than twenty years. And yes, I have a lot of jobs. I am the black, female Ryan Seacrest.
I REALLY like working.
I also REALLY love movies.
Like, I know other people like movies, but I fucking LOVE movies. I cut class in middle school to watch The Empire Strikes Back. Twice. (I also cried with joy during The Force Awakens. Don’t laugh. You did too.) I can recite every bit of dialogue from the original Terminator.
Please do not use this information to judge me, nor calibrate my age. Everyone says they loved Truffaut’s 400 Blows. This is fancy bullshit. I own the Bourne Trilogy on DVD and BluRay. I love action movies. You had me at explosion.
I’ve spent more than twenty years of my life on set, in front of the camera, making stuff that I love, that I’m passionate about, that keeps me up at night pinching myself over how lucky I am. And the more I’ve learned, the more I’ve wanted to put everything I have into making movies.
But before that, I wanted to make sure as shit I knew what I was doing. So I spent the last decade shadowing (read: following around, studying, generally creeping out) directors on projects like The Wire, Penny Dreadful, Vikings, The Walking Dead, Criminal Minds, Death Sentence and 24.
And then, I started making stuff.
I’ve directed six short subjects over the past few years, all on my own, operating my own camera, doing my own editing, and generally working myself to the point of a mini-stroke. I did things this way so that I could learn as much as possible about every aspect of filmmaking, and so that I could have complete creative independence. Did I mention I love working?
I also may have a bit of a death wish. This is neither here nor there.
Through all of this, I learned that I love directing as much as I love movies. And that I was dying to make a film. A cool, small, kickass independent I could make my way, on my own terms, free from the influence of corporate Hollywood — with the help of a few other super cool people.
You. That's right. I mean you.
I need your help to direct my first feature film — a unique, edgy thriller — entitled AXIS.
AXIS is a movie about a guy trying to turn his life around. If you listen to my podcast Girl on Guy, you know how deeply I believe in the transformative power of failure, and how I encourage people to never stop pursuing their dreams.
The lead character in AXIS — Tristan Blake — has done just that. A successful actor who nearly destroyed his life through punishing addiction, he has gotten sober, salvaged his relationship and career, mended his connections with family, and is trying with all his might to reclaim his life.
But despite those efforts, over a single sunlit Los Angeles afternoon, a series of tragic events will test his resolve, his loved ones, his sobriety, and eventually, his life.
Dun-DUN-dun... (cue thrilling music).
AXIS is a pure expression of the independent film spirit. Actor-focused, visually rich, shot through with mystery, conflict, and my own brand of gallows humor, AXIS is exactly the kind of film I’ve dreamed of making.
They always tell you your first film should have limited locations — my film will have just one. AXIS takes place entirely inside a car — you may remember something similar in the films LOCKE or PHONE BOOTH — but this location will take our lead character, and our audience, throughout greater Los Angeles, on a journey in which the city is as much a character as the actors themselves. On this journey, Tristan will interact with his friends, family, enemies, colleagues, competitors, lovers and adversaries — all over the phone.
You’ve probably heard that people in Los Angeles are work-addicted robots trapped in our cars in an endless sea of soul-deadening traffic. This is unfair. This is also very true. In AXIS, Tristan’s car becomes his home, his workplace, his bedroom, his drug den, his therapists’ office, his prison, and hopefully, finally, the tool of his salvation.
AXIS is about isolation. The isolation of adulthood, of the entertainment industry, of sobriety, of family, of love, of loss. And the story of one man’s attempt to break through that isolation and take his life, and his destiny, back into his own hands.
A couple of years ago, in my quest to learn more about directing, I took a trip to Ireland to shadow on a couple of my favorite TV shows: Penny Dreadful and Vikings. While there, I met some fantastic artists, and they invited me back to Ireland to direct a short film in Galway that December. I said yes (because what’s more delightful than the West of Ireland in winter?).
I collaborated with Irish actor/writer/producer Emmett Hughes, whose debut feature, The O'Briens, was a film festival darling. The short film he wrote and I directed, Ar Scáth le Chéile in Irish Gaelic (The Shadow of Our Togetherness in English), was just made an official selection at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Which is pretty cool.
Check out the trailer.
It was one of the best experiences on a film set I’d ever had, and the cast and crew felt the same (probably because I bought them a lot of beers). We had such a positive experience that we decided to work together again — him writing and acting, me directing, both of us producing.
AXIS was born.
I am lucky enough to work on a lot of stuff. As a result, I have a really tiny window in which to shoot this film. I have a week off at the end of May. It’s my last week off in 2016, so I really want to make it count.
And that’s one reason I decided to Kickstart this movie – I wanted to go into production quickly, on my own terms, on a schedule I could control. Big studios work on their own time, and they are notoriously slow and reluctant to move. Directors wait years to get their movies greenlit.
You and I don't have that kind of time.
Most people would take their one week off and head to Hawaii, or binge on wine coolers in the air-conditioned darkness of their basement lair. I am not most people. I love work, I love movies, I have a few days off, and I’m going to kick ass as hard as I possibly can during that period.
With your help!
Principal photography on AXIS starts May 27th, 2016 and go nine days.
Yes, this is an insanely fast production schedule (movies typically take months to shoot). But in television, this is how we always work – we make an hour-plus of film-quality narrative on a very fast schedule —commonly a meager 8 days or less. It's the way I have always worked throughout my career — on shows like CSI, Criminal Minds, 24, Ghost Whisperer, and XIII — and it is the process and pace under which I feel most comfortable (and alive, ALIVE! Mwahahahaha!).
Additionally, the way we will shoot the movie — like a play — all the way through the entire script each day, every day, for nine days, will allow us plenty of room for error within a very narrow window. We’ll get the entire movie “in the can” every single day. And then we can adjust, tweak and improve our approach the next day. It's unusual but it's been done before, and it ensures we get the best possible result from our effort.
Additionally, we’ll need about 20 hours of additional dialogue recording (ADR) for all the voices of the characters that Tristan will interact with on the phone while he’s in the car. These will be played by actors you probably know, including Jerry Ferrara (ENTOURAGE), Emily Bett Rickards (ARROW), Kirsten Vangsness (CRIMINAL MINDS), Ted McGinley (MARRIED WITH CHILDREN) and myself (ME), along with fabulous others. So that we can work around these actors’ busy schedules, ADR will start in late April and continue up to the point we start filming. We’ll move into post-production immediately after filming and, with your help, have a finished film by Fall.
And then, when people ask you how you spent your summer, you can say, “making an awesome Hollywood thriller.” Which is WAY better than saying “at the mall” or “contemplating the emptiness of my existence and the futility of trying while drinking Mountain Dew” (which is how I spent every summer in middle school).
After that, we’ll have a big-ass premiere here in Hollywood, and everyone who backed the film will be up on the big screen, and those that backed at higher levels will attend the premiere, and I’ll be there, and the cast will be there, and there will be copious plates of chicken fingers.
Oh yes. There will be chicken fingers.
Our cast consists of a bunch of insanely talented actors who are all working for way, WAY less than they get paid normally. Yep. They're awesome.
The cast includes: Emily Bett Rickards (ARROW), Jerry Ferrara (ENTOURAGE), Amber Nash (ARCHER), Ted McGinley (MARRIED WITH CHILDREN), Jonathan Sadowski (LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD), Jean-Luc Bilodeau (BABY DADDY) and more.
One of the reasons I wanted to Kickstart this film is because I wanted to make it for the least amount of money possible. That might sound counterintuitive — let me explain. I wanted to make a film independently, in a rugged and muscular way, unconcerned with rules of conventional filmmaking and studio controls. And I wanted to make it quickly, within my narrow available time frame. To do that, I needed to make it for the leanest budget I could by film standards:
$150k will greenlight AXIS and get us into production. We can retain talent (including a director of photography, assistant director, line producer and crew), cameras, driving equipment, permits, and begin the ADR process.
And with this initial $150k from my kickstarter team, I'll have the ammo to go to agencies and studios for additional funding.
However, my real dream is to continue this journey hand in hand with you. I truly believe in the power of Kickstarter. With your help, we can hit our first $150K — and if we're really lucky, keep going!
This stretch goal allows us to complete filming for 9 days in May and June. Holy shit, you guys! We're making a movie!
This final stretch goal gets us through post-production: allowing us to edit, color correct, sound mix and deliver the film for exhibition. And then plan a kickass Hollywood premiere for you to attend! Dranks y'all!
If I haven't made it clear, I can't make this dream come true without your help. This is going to be an amazing experience that we will all go through as a team, you and me. And I'm going to keep you connected and involved every single step of the way.
And then WE REWARD YOU in the following ways!
$5: Personal email updates from me on the production process, from start to finish.
$10: On-set production video diaries from me; plus email updates!
$20: Aisha's favorites! I'll send you a personal playlist of my favorite films, television shows, and music. OR, a playlist of my top video games, whiskeys, and American bars I habituate — your choice! Includes everything above.
$30: Streaming copy of the film AXIS for you to screen at home (do I smell popcorn?); along with every reward above.
$40: Custom Axis T-shirt designed by renowned rock artist Kii Arens, who creates all the custom art for my podcast. This tee will be one of a kind and beyond kickass! Includes all the rewards above.
$50: a PDF of the shooting script; plus every reward above!
$75: Special thanks in the end credits — you're awesome. Plus everything above!
$100: Autographed Archer DVD (only 5 available); and every reward above.
$100: Signed "How to Archer" book (only 3 available); along with every reward above that's not limited!
$125: Limited edition behind-the-scene stills (100 available); You receive a unique photo print that no one else IN THE WORLD will own, taken and signed by yours truly! You also receive every reward above that's not limited.
$125: Limited edition signed axis poster (100 available); Receive a kickass original poster signed by the cast! You also receive every reward above that's not limited.
$150: Autographed title page, signed by the director and lead actor, plus a single page from the original shooting script (82 available); — these are hard original signed copies of the script, not a PDF; plus every reward above that's not limited
$400: Aishapalooza! An entire Aisha-themed package (30 available); includes: signed limited edition Kii Arens posters created for Comic-Con (yes, that middle one has velvet hair—boosh), books, a limited edition iphone case, and girl on guy wristbands; plus every reward above that's not limited! Double boosh.
$500: Signed limited edition Lana Sports Illustrated Print (only 10 available); these are SUPER rare! Dazzle and enrage your fellow Archer fans. Includes every reward above that's not limited.
$750: Premiere screening in LA for two (100 available); You'll arrange for your own flights and hotel, and join us here in Hollywood for the world premiere of AXIS! See your name up on the big screen! Congratulations, you are now a Hollywood producer, minus the bad suit and douchebaggery. Includes all rewards above that aren't limited.
$1,000: Premiere screening in LA PLUS the after party for two (25 available); You'll arrange for your own flights and hotels and then join us here in Hollywood for the premiere of AXIS. Afterwards there will be a very posh afterparty where you can interact with the rest of the AXIS team and congratulate yourself on your new career as a film producer! Over drinks! Plus every reward above that's not limited.
$2,000: 30 minute skype session with me and actor/writer Emmett Hughes (6 available); We'll talk directly with you about the entire process of creating AXIS start to finish, plus any questions you have about any other projects we've worked on. You're a producer now! What do you want to learn? The world is your oyster (for a half an hour, at least)! This includes every reward above that's not limited.
$5,000: Spend a day on the set of AXIS! (3 available); You'll arrange for your own flights and hotels, then join me and the cast and crew on the set — oh wait, you're crew now that you're a producer! See AXIS come to life! During lunch ask any questions you have regarding production. This includes every reward above that's not limited.
$7,500: Spend a day with me and the AXIS team in LA during post! (3 available) You'll arrange for your own flights and hotels, then join me and my post team here in LA as we edit the film. See how a movie is put together, and offer input from the fan (and producer's) perspective! We'll feed you and I'll answer any questions that make basic sense in this plane of existence. Plus every reward above that's not limited.
$10,000: Screen AXIS like the baller you are! (3 available); You'll arrange for your own flights and hotels, then join me at a super-premium private screening of AXIS at a private club in Hollywood. We'll meet before the screening for drinks, watch the film together, and have dinner afterwards. You'll get credit on screen as an executive producer, which everyone knows means that you're a boss. This, of course, includes every other reward above that's not limited.
If we really get a head of steam and hit our initial goal, we'll be able to offer additional cool rewards. The more momentum we build, the more surprise rewards we can offer!
Let's break the internet! Or, just wound it slightly. Hooray!
Risks and challenges
First, the opportunities. A car is a small, contained space. Unlike most locations, we can control the set fully. We don’t need a lot of props. We don’t have to worry about messing up the nice lady’s carpet who rented us her house. We don’t have to move locations through the sweltering heart of Hellay during apocalyptic rush hour. We only have to light our set once, then forget it. We can go to In-n-Out burger while still on set. And then eat it. While still on set.
Now, the challenges: we can’t just drive this thing around for a week, filming with multiple cameras, and not draw attention. Especially attention from the police. So. We’ve actually got to hire a bunch police to ride with us while we film, to discourage other police from riding over and casually asking to see our filming permits, or maybe not so casually stopping us from filming (which has happened on other short films I’ve directed and let me tell you, it was SUPER fun times).
We’re going to shoot this film in a car, which will be mounted on what’s called a “process trailer” (fancy word for a flatbed truck, where the truck does all the driving and the fancypants actor sits back and has organic cold-pressed green juice and chia pudding between takes) This will give us maximum control over our shooting conditions, which will in turn allow us to maximize the creative return on our investment of time and money.
Actual English? We are going to light and set up cameras just once, the day we start filming, and then the car will remain rigged for the entire run of the film (we’ll also need to pay some lovely security people to store and keep an eye on all this fancy equipment each night to make sure it doesn't get stolen like the Batmobile). This will ensure that we spend every minute of every shoot day — well, shooting.
You’ve heard of the Hollywood term “hurry up and wait?” Most of the waiting on a film set comes from the constant moving, rigging, de-rigging and re-rigging of lights and cameras and dollies and other crap. We are going to set everything once and forget it. And that will allow us to focus entirely on storytelling.
The process trailer allows the actor to look like he’s driving, without really having to drive (thus avoiding any unpleasant fender benders which would permanently derail production and also cost a buttload of money). We’ll have an awesome transportation guy with calves like boulders drive, so our actor can focus on acting and not on traffic, and the police we hire can make sure we’ve got a clear path through traffic, and I and the rest of our team can focus on making the absolute best film we possibly can.
The other really critical challenge is getting funded in time to start shooting May 27th. I really only have that window to make this movie, and if we miss it, we'll have to wait an entire year to get going again.
Which would be a real bummer.
Our budget is modest by even independent film production standards. $150K gets us into production. That’s all we’re trying to do. Just get us in that car and on the road, and we’ll do the rest!
HEY! HERE'S SOME LEGAL STUFF.
• Shipping dates on rewards may vary, but all of our Kickstarter supporters will receive their items within one year of our campaign's conclusion. Promise!
• If your reward is a set visit or premiere attendance, you must be over 18 or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian (who will count as your plus one).
• For any reward that requires travel, you will be responsible for your own flights, hotel and ground transportation.
• Some rewards may require additional paperwork, including non-disclosure agreements.
• Set visit dates and locations may be subject to change due to unforeseen production variables. We will do everything in our power to deliver the rewards as described.
• For events that involve cast, all cast members may not be on site due to work conflicts. We will do our best to schedule cast events for maximum attendance. Hell, we'll make sure at least ONE famous person is there.
• This fundraising campaign is subject to all applicable Kickstarter rules/regulations, movie guild rules and applicable law.
• If insurmountable issues arise with any reward, we will work in good faith to provide a substitute reward of equivalent awesomeness.
• Thanks for helping to make my crazy little dream a reality. We are going to kick massive ass, you and I. That is all.
• PS! If you purchase the $125 photo print reward, you will receive all rewards above except limited items (Archer DVD, Archer book) - there was a typo in the rewards section (states you will receive all rewards above). Our apologies! If we release any more Archer DVDs or books, we let people know buying this reward will not allow you to receive these limited items. Thank you for understanding!
• PS!!! Recently the twitter reward and beanie had to become limited due to the overwhelming amount of support - we want to ensure that we can deliver all of our rewards in time and these two would have been too much on our plate :( If you need to change your reward that's completely understandable and sincere apologies. Once the kickstarter campaign ends and you still have concerns please feel free to message me!