AURORA practical effects retro time-travel creature feature
Help us finish our unique film!
Aurora is a unique 30-minute film inspired by the mantra: "What if Alejandro Jodorowsky created a Twilight Zone episode?"
A "creature feature" art-film homage to Universal Monsters and 1950s westerns, all the puzzle pieces are now on the table, we just desperately need help to pull everything together. With your support, this movie can be completely finished before the end of the year!
My friends John Terendy (cinematographer), Aaron Shaps (my co-writer and co-director), and I grew up on Fortean Times, Man Myth & Magic, and Chariots of the Gods? and love weird UFO history, so we decided to take a little-known historical record, pull it as far into the realms of conspiracy theories as possible, and then bring it back until it matched what we know today. It was exciting to write an absolutely outlandish story where, if you check it against the news reports from the past century, everything lines up. Read on to see what bizarre liberties we took with the story of...
The first documented UFO crash in American history.
It is widely believed that Roswell, New Mexico is the site of the first UFO crash in American history- but that distinction actually goes to a small town in Texas. According to an historical account reported in the local newspaper, early in the morning on April 17, 1897, the residents of Aurora (located just outside of Fort Worth) were awakened by a loud explosion as an inexplicable airship crashed to Earth–six years before the first flight of the Wright Bros, and 40 years before the town even had electricity. A body was found at the site and buried in an unmarked grave in the town cemetery, the wreckage was thrown into a deep well, and a legend was born.
Signal Service officer T. J. Weems, the military presence at the site, was coincidentally (or not) an expert in Astronomy and reported that the creature was a Martian. The well water where the wreckage was reportedly dumped appeared to be tainted in some way from that point forward, causing strange afflictions. Almost 80 years later in the 1970s, a grave widely believed to be that of the unknown pilot was robbed before the body could be exhumed by university scientists, and a fragment of metal unearthed in Aurora defied scientific explanation.
All this leads to the question:
What crashed in Aurora, Texas, in 1897?
A popular conspiracy theory is that German scientists developed an antigravity engine in the 1940s that powered a saucer-shaped craft called Die Glocke, or "the bell," and that these test flights were responsible for the increase in UFO sightings in that era. I won't go into detail here, but a google search will open up a Pandora's box of theories- including that the experimental craft was capable of inter-dimensional and time travel. What if they were right? What if the 1940s and the 1897 UFO sightings were connected?
The Fledermaus Pilot.
Our first step was designing the suit for the test pilot for Die Glocke; he would need to be alien and elegant, and we needed a visionary to conjure our retro-futuristic fashion. Brom is high among the most celebrated artists in the world of Fantasy (in 2013 his thirty-year career was honored with the prestigious Spectrum Grand Master award), and he's also one of the genuinely nicest men I know. To design the costume for Die Glocke's test pilot–from an elite division of pilots known as Fledermaus, or "bat"–I gave Brom one direction: imagine if 1930s sportscar maven Ettore Bugatti were designing a deep-sea diving suit. And to construct the suit with an eye towards hypersensual fetishism, we needed someone rooted in fashion over costuming–the atelier Ritual crafted the perfect embodiment of our vision and Brom’s design.
The inter-dimensional travels of Die Glocke attracted the attention of a rare and peculiar cryptid-style creature we affectionately named Pango; to create this extra-dimensional cryptid SyFy Face Off winners Rayce Bird and J. Anthony Kosar envisioned a bear-pangolin hybrid and Rayce's team brought him to life using masterful skills in creating time-tested practical effects.
Jack Campbell starred in the two most-watched programs in Australian television history: the internationally acclaimed series Underbelly: Razor as the notorious legend of Sydney's 1920s underworld "Big Jim" Devine, and the award-winning All Saints as the romantic Dr. Steve Taylor. I met with Jack the day he moved here from Australia, and he's the finest leading man I could imagine to portray the gravitas of a soldier thrust into the cauldron of one of the greatest mysteries of the late 19th century.
The Aurora screenplay was specifically written with English film, television, and theatre actor Robert Boulter in mind. He's best known for a recurring role as Kieron Fletcher on the BBC series Casualty, turns in the theatre productions Mercury Fur and Citizenship, and the film Donkey Punch. Boulter's meticulous stagecraft delivers the subtle, magnetic intensity needed to humanize a complicated character, delivering a performance reminiscent of legendary silent film star Conrad Veidt.
Behind-the-scenes photos of the filming of Aurora... To learn more click here: https://www.aurorafilm.info/blog
No one on the planet is better equipped to conjure the tones needed to create an alien language than visionary artist Genesis P-Orridge. From honors including being named the legendary "Godperson of Industrial Music," founding the psychedelic, world-shaking band Psychic TV and their most recent incarnation PTV3, and changing the minds of magicians and artists everywhere as a visionary cultural engineer, Genesis is comfortable moving through dimensions other than this earthly plane. Utilizing cut-up techniques inspired by William S. Burroughs, Genesis provides the voice of the creature.
The eerie and jarring moments on the soundtrack are the work of two of my favorite musicians on the planet: the unearthly sounds of elegant avant-garde thereminist Armen Ra, and experimental rock drummer Brian Viglione (Nine Inch Nails, Dresden Dolls, Violent Femmes).
The gorgeous orchestrations that completely bring Aurora to life were created by composer Troy Sterling Nies; his work for the H. P. Lovecraft Society is equal parts terrifying and heartbreakingly beautiful. Tying all the music together is production master Joe Cassidy of the Belfast-founded band Butterfly Child and Shepard Fairey's L.A. art project NØISE.
In our case, we envisioned a certain kind of movie: Black and white. Western. Science Fiction. Cryptid-style monster. UFOs. Twilight Zone-style anthology. These are all subjects that are a lot of fun and have a lot of artistic integrity, but not much commercial appeal to a larger studio. If you love the things on this list as much as I do, supporting us on Kickstarter is how we can finish the film and make this unique story come to life, exactly as imagined and with NO artistic compromise.
All the money raised goes directly into the production and manufacturing of rewards. There are also a number of post-production steps including taking our edit into a studio for what is called grading- where it's fixed to look right on every possible viewing platform- and the same step on the audio side, called mastering. Those are expensive steps, but necessary. Many of the people on this page believed both in me and in this movie so much that they have generously deferred payment until we could run a Kickstarter- so we will hopefully have enough left over to get everyone caught up as well. It would be impossible for this movie to be profitable, but without this Kickstarter campaign it will take another two years to get everything for this movie finished.
Above all else you get not only my deepest gratitude, but I can share that you'll have the appreciation of everyone involved with this project– there are an infinite number of pursuits more financially rewarding than being an artist, and our culture continues to move on a path where everything is available and everything is free- making the support of the people who want to experience the artwork more directly necessary than ever. By helping us make this you also get the invisible badge of being someone who took part in an act of creation.
While that is both romantic and noble, my friends and I have all banded together to make it rewarding on the physical plane as well by making some very special objects. Not all of the designs are finalized, but we promise that they will be gorgeous, tactile experiences that will exceed your expectations!
- Two-disc sets (The movie and the soundtrack)
- Specially-printed movie posters (Letterpress, varnish-layered offset)
- Tintype photo facsimiles (Insanely cool 1897-style metal print photos)
- Vinyl records (We will be going really far with this packaging.)
- T-shirts (High-quality screenprinted vintage-style tees)
- Enamel pin of the creature!
Please note: if you select the Complete Poster tier ($250) you will receive ALL the posters published- all 6 posters with text, and also any variant posters that we produce (up to 11 posters for $250!)
Wet-plate photographer Anton Orlov brought his 19th century camera to the set, and took photos of the cast and crew in the wild west setting. We'll reprint some of these onto metal plates with modern ink techniques so that you can hang on your wall perfect 8" x 10" facsimiles of the tintype photos- these look and feel just like the original metal plate photos!
The vinyl record and the wax cylinder will contain the sounds of Troy Sterling Nies, Genesis P-Orridge, Armen Ra, Brian Viglione, Andrew Dalziell, Joe Cassidy, and myself (Thomas Negovan). I also did a TEDx talk on archaic technologies, so we will be releasing a song on wax cylinder that won't be available anywhere else*.
I've always devoted my life to trying to encourage connection through art and stories. For over twenty years I've written books on history and art, and curated exhibitions of late 19th and early 20th century artworks of art and artists who have inspired much of today’s popular culture. Researching fascinating history and finding ways to share those stories with the world in an exciting way– plus decades of hands-on contact with the finest relics from earlier eras– has helped me develop an intense sensitivity to aesthetics and visual art.
For my first art project exploring the 19th century, I gave a TEDx talk on archaic technologies back in 2011.
Aurora is the next step in that evolution.
As a kid, my two favorite shows were The Twilight Zone and The Rifleman. Now as a dad, I find myself wanting to create something that might inspire my son when he's a little bit older. With this project, I wanted to create something that had the excitement of the 1950s and 1960s television shows I watched in syndication on Sunday afternoons, but with an undercurrent that was absolutely modern.
I can't articulate how grateful I am for everyone involved in this project, for their incredible support and creative energy. If I typed how much the people named here mean to me, the page would be overflowing with love.
I hope that you are as excited about this film as I am, and just as excited for the posters and tintypes and records! Check out the beautiful rewards that we plan to make to get this movie out into the world, pick your favorites... and thank you for your help in making this movie come to life.
DANGEROUS MINDS: CLICK HERE
TROUBLE CITY: CLICK HERE
HORROR-MOVIES.CA: CLICK HERE
HORROR FIX: CLICK HERE
Please share this campaign with your friends who are bloggers or podcasters- and contact us at email@example.com if you need extra information! EVERY post and share helps!
Thank you to the media above who covered our Kickstarter campaign!
Risks and challenges
We waited to launch this campaign until the creative work was nearly finished- your support will fund the completion of the technical phases and manufacturing of materials to get this movie out into the world! We've created a number of similar objects, so we have manufacturing experience with DVDs, CDs, posters, books, and everything hand-made in this campaign. Barring a natural disaster, there is no risk- delivery is guaranteed in a timely manner!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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