A Kickstarter Staff Pick, Kickstarter 'Film & Video' Project of the Day, and an IndieWIRE Project of the Week!
Articles: IndieWIRE | Examiner.com | Geeks of Doom | Hi-Def Ninja
At its heart, Spectrographs and Soliloquies is the story of Edwin Aster, an astronomer who comes face-to-face with loss because of his obsession with a mysterious anomaly in the sky. It's an inspiring tale about shifting one's perspective and coming to terms with both life and death.
Unlike much of today's sci-fi fare, this is a character-driven project. It's important to us that the film is about Ed first and that the sci-fi elements support and augment his arc. In turn, the story is told through Ed's point of view via narration (the titular "soliloquies") and flashbacks. We're all very proud of the screenplay and we hope you're as excited to see our story come to fruition as we are.
It means a lot to us to have the opportunity to make this film. We are a team of huge sci-fi fan-filmmakers and we would love to make our mark on the genre. As a crew of mostly recent film school grads, this project is also a way for us to do what we love right out of the gate and we are ecstatic to have the chance.
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Spectrographs and Soliloquies is inspired by some of your favorite sci-fi films and shows including E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Contact, Super 8, and the 2014 Cosmos miniseries. Think of the project as a spiritual successor of Spielberg, Zemeckis, and Abrams films, but with the grounded, scientific tone of Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan.
Cody has been involved in the film industry in one way or another for over fifteen years. He began his film career as a child actor at the ripe old age of five, eventually appearing in such TV and film projects as iCarly and Role Models, but he ultimately gravitated toward work behind the camera. Cody recently graduated magna cum laude from the USC School of Cinematic Arts (which was coincidentally just named by The Hollywood Reporter as the best film school in the U.S. for the third year in a row) and is making his postgrad directorial debut with this project. Cody has always been fascinated with world-building which is why science-fiction is his favorite genre. For Cody, Spectrographs and Solilioquies is not only a calling card, but a passion project, as the film fits neatly into his area of expertise.
Marlene is a coffee enthusiast and recent film grad from the University of New Mexico. She already has an impressive first place win at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Film Fest under her belt in addition to several national broadcast awards in student television. This year she also produced the senior capstone for UNM's film program, entitled Jubilation, and, for the first time in the department’s history, secured endorsements from theLala and the San Diego-based Latino Film Industry. She hopes to continue this trend of breaking new ground and pushing the limits with Spectrographs and Soliloquies and beyond.
Madeline recently graduated from the University of Rochester, where she studied film and media. During her time at Rochester, she won two Telly Awards, two AVA Digital Awards, and a Communicator Award of Distinction for her work on the sports documentary episode of Amerks All Access, entitled "The Mind of a Goalie." Since graduating, Madeline has worked as a member of the Events Coverage team for the Los Angeles Film Festival, which provided her access to a host of burgeoning talents from disparate fields of the film landscape. In addition to producing Spectrographs and Soliloquies, Madeline is a writer for examiner.com's film column and is pursuing a Master's Degree in Entertainment Industry Management at Carnegie Mellon, which she realizes is a mouthful.
Will graduated alongside Cody from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, with a degree in Film and Television Production. As a student, he produced several short films, music videos, and various content, and enjoys pushing the boundaries of traditional storytelling. Will continues to produce both classical content and new forms of media installations, artwork, and virtual and augmented reality—attempting to tell new stories in inspiring and challenging ways.
Brian Tang—Cinematographer (http://www.briantangcinematography.com/)
Brian is our super talented director of photography. A native New Jerseyan, Brian is currently completing his final year of study at USC's School of Cinematic Arts and is passionate about his camerawork, classical piano, and Chick-fil-A. He has shot, directed, and edited everything from narrative short films and music videos to commercials and feature length films.
Aaron is a musical chameleon of sorts and is fluent in jazz, pop, orchestral, electronic, R&B, and Gospel. He’s played piano with as well as written songs and arrangements for some of the top artists in the world, including Albert “Tootie” Heath, Abe Laboriel, Stevie Wonder, Elliot Yamin (American Idol), Scott Hoying (Pentatonix), Trevor Lawrence Jr. (songwriter/producer for Dr. Dre, Alicia Keys, and others) and many more. Aaron also appeared as a band member in several episodes of Glee. He enjoys collaborating with other art forms and is currently on staff at the California Dance Institute and the JazzAntigua Dance Ensemble as a composer/arranger for dance performances. Aaron hopes to use the skills he has acquired working in various genres and mediums to create a fresh and exciting score for Spectrographs and Soliloquies.
Mary Iannelli—Costume Designer (http://www.maryiannelli.com/)
Mary is an industry veteran with nearly twenty years of costuming experience. She is a two-time Emmy winner and four-time nominee. Mary recently completed work on Independence Day: Resurgence and is currently the lead costumer on Colony, the new sci-fi series on USA Network. Her experience with science fiction projects makes her invaluable to our crew.
Casting is currently underway. Cast to be announced!
We will be highlighting our amazing rewards individually in project updates, but here's a teaser. Don't blink!
Note: All reward levels $35 and above include physical items. We have budgeted for their manufacture, but shipping and packaging are an additional cost which will be added onto your pledge.
You may notice that one of the featured rewards is a print by pop culture graphic artist Marko Manev. While we will provide more details in a future update, we wanted to show you some of his previous work because that's how excited we are to have him on board.
Spectrographs and Soliloquies is ambitious for a short film project, trust us, we know. It will involve the use of visual effects and several locations. As previously mentioned, much of the crew has just graduated from film school and instead of opting to work entertainment desk jobs, we've banded together and vowed to hit the ground running with this project, because… why not? They say the early bird gets the worm. That being said, we're sure many of you can imagine the challenges from a financial standpoint of making a film of any decent length or quality fresh out of film school. Many of us are freelancers, which at this point in our careers is a fancy word for "unemployed," so we need your help to make our dreams a reality and get this project off the ground. And after all, who doesn't like a good sci-fi story?
Below is a more detailed breakdown of what we need backing for and how we plan to use said funds. While our budget is $20,000, our Kickstarter goal is $18,000 with a stretch goal of $20,000 and beyond. This ensures that we if we get a little less than our budget asks for, we can still keep what we make and make up the difference.
Cast & Crew
We want to find actors who can give us (and you, the audience) the best possible performances. The same goes for the crew. We want Spectrographs and Soliloquies to look and sound great and we also would love the production process to go as smoothly as possible. In order to achieve these goals, we need to be able to pay our hard-working cast and crew members.
Our story takes place in several locations, including a hospital, a house, a suburban street, two different lecture halls, and the doozy: an observatory. All locations are secured at this point, but we need to compensate the various homeowners, and pay for permits, other site usage fees, and insurance.
We'd like to take a moment to specifically thank the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, who has generously loaned us their observatory and clubhouse, the Garvey Ranch Park Observatory, for our shoot. Thanks LAAS!
We are using some of our own camera equipment, but we still need to rent all of the standard accessories required to make the film look and sound great. This includes lighting, rigging, and an audio mixer. For some of this equipment we not only have to pay for the weekly rentals, but also insurance.
Post-Production & Effects
This is a sci-fi film, so as you might gather, there are some visual effects involved, as well as some color correction. We don't want to spoil the film, but we will say that these effects shots require someone with the proper chops to pull off. In addition we of course need an editor, who is pivotal to the final outcome of the film. These essential elements deserve to be rewarded with fair compensation.
This part is all about you, our loyal backers. We love being able to give you cool perks and swag to get you even more pumped for the project, but we also need to make a net profit on your pledges. Therefore, the reward levels are set so that we can afford to make your goodies and still have the ability to make our film. This way everybody wins!
As mentioned in the main Rewards section, we have only budgeted for the manufacture of your rewards. An additional shipping and packing fee will be added onto your pledge upon submission.
We are looking at about 8-10% of our funds going back to Kickstarter and payment processing. This is an inevitability and thus it is beneficial for us to raise more money and offset these fees.
Miscellaneous Expenses & Buffer
Think of this as a rainy day fund. Murphy's Law is usually in full force on film productions and this emergency buffer will help to alleviate any potential issues that come up. Additionally, we can use these funds to feed the crew and pay for gas. If any happens to be left over at the end of the production phase, it will be incorporated into the post-production budget.
A Note About Festivals
Way down the line, once the fruit of our labor is complete, we would love to take our film to festivals and have a shot a winning some awards and acknowledgment. This also helps us as filmmakers to get our names and faces out there for future projects. After all, this is ideally the first step in our long careers! Unfortunately, our budget is so tight that we can only go to festivals using Kickstarter funds if we make more than our goal. This Kickstarter is focused primarily on completing the film. However, we will find a way to to get the project to festivals even if we don't do so using surplus Kickstarter funds, so have no fear and stay tuned!
When are you shooting and what is your post-production schedule?
Excellent questions! We've secured our locations and are shooting on November 6th-8th and 14th-15th (subject to change). Because our talented cinematographer and a sprinkling of other crewmembers are still seniors in film school, we can only shoot on weekends. Immediately following principal photography, we will go into post-production, which entails editing, VFX, color correction, sound mixing, and scoring. That will ideally run from late November through January/February 2016. We hope to have the project totally finished by March 2016 (once again, subject to change).
Risks and challenges
Filmmaking is an inherently risky proposition. We are, sometimes literally, recreating the world from scratch, both visually and audially and, just as in the real world, there are many moving parts. One of our biggest challenges is that, for most of us, this is our first project after graduating from film school. At the same time, our core team's collective (and fresh) film education adds up to almost twenty years of experience, and our trust and confidence in one-another and the team as a single unit ensures that we are not aimless or naïve about any facet of the filmmaking process. What we lack in real-world experience we make up for in cold, hard knowledge. Every member of the Spectrographs and Soliloquies team feels that by working together they will make a high-quality short film quickly and efficiently.
More objectively, what all of the information on this page boils down to is that our locations, most of the cast and crew, and equipment have been secured on paper, which means that there is already less risk involved, but we need your backing to seal most of these deals with finality. Once these elements are totally secured, we can focus on the wholly creative aspects of the project.
Lastly, while we intend to manufacture and ship out your rewards as soon as we go into post-production, many of the people handling the rewards also have duties in post-production, so our shipping schedule may be a slow and steady flow, as opposed to an all-at-once shipment. And one of the rewards (the Marko Manev/HCG print) is based on imagery from the film itself, so it will not be complete until the pertinent shots for the film are finished. We want to be as transparent about fulfillment as possible. Our priorities lie with the film itself, but that does not mean we will not do everything we can to fulfill rewards as quickly as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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