This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Mon, June 10 2019 2:00 PM UTC +00:00.
Developed in relative secrecy over the past five years, CULTURESPORT is an animated science fiction web series set inside a sprawling fictional universe—the result of intensive and ongoing collaboration between artists, designers, musicians, actors, dancers, brands, and CULTURESPORT’s in-house creative team.
What separates this project from most others on Kickstarter is that we’ve already made the first episode and we’re releasing it for free on YouTube in conjunction with this campaign. You can watch the full episode below. 👇
CULTURESPORT S00E00 : ROTTERDAM 1995 : The seas are rising. A reclusive engineer has come to town, promising to invent a new system of dikes and dams, using a computer that harnesses the power of dreams. A pair of twins are selected for the study—gabber kids from the local hardcore scene. But as they get sucked deeper into a digital dream world, they realize the inventor's true goal isn't to protect Rotterdam at all.
Our goal for this campaign is simple. We are asking for your support to fund a full narrative arc within our universe—the first season of CULTURESPORT— a series of shorts to be released over the course of the year 2020. Our minimum goal for this Kickstarter campaign is to create the next episode. With every stretch goal we reach, we will be able to produce an additional 4-6 minute long episode. So if every stretch goal is met, that's a season of eight new shorts!
The majority of funds raised will go directly into production, including everything from modeling and animating to recording dialogue and composing music. We have also accounted for nitty-gritty details such as campaign fees and processing fees. And of course we want to give you nothing but the best with our rewards.
All of our campaign rewards are limited edition, and will only ever be available for purchase during this Kickstarter campaign. Campaign apparel will be produced to the highest quality by our good friends at LQQK STUDIO.
We plan on shipping all rewards no sooner than FALL 2019, allowing us to ensure that all of our reward products are also to our standards.
Please note all physical rewards will be actual items subject to slight variation.
Pictured above: Back row, left to right: Creeper, Peter Yost, Morgan. Middle, left to right: Andy Sullivan, Max "MXMS", Diane Thomlin, Kiran Lakhani, Eli Richardson, Mara (Mark) Valle, Louis Canter. Front, left to right: Mikey, DeKira, Renny Ryals.
CULTURESPORT tells the story of Mikey, a self-aware chatbot and the world's first true artificial intelligence. Built by Kiran Lakhani, a young Pakistani-American programmer who only wanted a friend, Mikey finds himself at the center of an ever-growing fight for power. Diane Thomlin, a washed-up academic responsible for many of the fundamental breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, seeks to foster and protect Mikey like a mother, while her former collaborator and current tech titan Peter Yost seeks to use Mikey for personal (and perhaps nefarious) motives. Meanwhile, Mikey is making his own friends online: Andy, a reluctant ballerina and aspiring skater, and Max a.k.a. "MXMS," a young hacker living in rural Georgia— the first to figure out what Mikey really is. Watching from afar, the young heir DeKira plots to take control of Mikey, or if he fails, to destroy him. All the while, the mysterious and elusive Creeper creeps in the shadows, and dozens more find themselves caught in a web of expanding complexity.
CULTURESPORT is our world seen through a glass darkly: a place where technology has a mind of its own, where the most important question is no longer: is this program secure? but: is this program alive?
The studio is helmed by veteran net artist John Michael Boling. Inspired equally by Studio Ghibli and Jim Henson Entertainment, CULTURESPORT's mandate is to combine cutting edge and ancient methodologies to tell elemental stories for our post-digital age. CULTURESPORT is created using the free and open source 3D software Blender.
CULTURESPORT began as a childhood daydream about a self-aware chatbot that recruits an army of teenagers to take over the world when a 14-year-old John Michael was in Rome, Georgia. His early fascination with the internet, computer graphics, and film led him to a career in video production. Inspired by the long-form storytelling possibilities of television and the narrative efficiency of 2D anime, John Michael began to revisit the futuristic storylines that had entertained him as kid.
In 2014, thirsting to devote himself to the daily work of a large scale creative project, he sold his belongings, bought a few souped up gaming computers, and moved to an old general store at his parents' farm in Georgia to devote himself full-time to his vision.
With full narrative arcs already in mind, John Michael recruited long-time friend Michael Crowley as a script writer to begin translating his stories to paper. It was shortly after completing the first draft of the original pilot episode that his two friends, Joe Kubler and Jason Coombs, became increasingly intrigued and interested in the work John Michael was making. Inspired, they too quit their jobs, bought computers, and headed to the farm. The farm had no internet and very limited cell phone service, but the three of them strapped down for months, learning how to produce CULTURESPORT’s signature house style of 3D animation and storyboarding what would become the CULTURESPORT universe.
After moving to their first "real" office in Athens, Georgia, they were joined by their friends Greg O'Connell and Rob Howerton. After three years, working out of over a dozen different locations, and collaborating with a multitude of talented individuals from around the world, they completed their first episode: "Rotterdam 1995." Along the way, they have teamed up with brands such as Telfar, Supreme, Nike, Kenzo, MAC Cosmetics, and LQQK Studio. Now residing and working in Brooklyn, New York, they are excited for the next chapter of their journey -- and for you to join them.
Our goal with this Kickstarter campaign is to produce our first season of shorts and release them for free online. We would like your support to do that. In collaboration with our new Kickstarter friends we hope to fund our production costs to begin bringing you these shorts on a regular basis, with the eventual goal of bringing you full seasons of full-length episodes.
If all this sounds cool, please watch our first episode "Rotterdam 1995," and if you like what you see please consider showing your support by sharing the episode, or donating directly to our campaign. All the money we raise will be put directly into production of the first season.
Risks and challenges
While our team has been already been in pre-production and many of the assets have already been generated, animation is still a lengthy process, and we want to give you nothing but the best possible quality.
We plan to release the first episode of our web series in Q1 2020.
We hope to begin shipping rewards in time for the holiday season 2019, allowing us to ensure that all of our reward products are also to our standards.
We don't anticipate any major challenges, but should the unexpected pop up, we will always keep you updated with any issues or delays.