"I always loved silent movies. I was not a specialist, but I loved them. And when I started directing, I became really fascinated by the format - how it works, the device of the silent movie. It's not the same form of expression as a talkie. The lack of sounds make you participate in the storytelling."
- Michel Hazanavicius
Hey there, Kickstarter! My name is DJ•II (DJ the second), writer and director of the horror/thriller, Oh, These Emeralds!. I'd just like to express the biggest thank you for showing interest in this project thus far. I can't say I had a particularly grand inspiring moment when the idea to make a modern silent film came to me. It was just during one of those seemingly menial passing moments that I came to the realization that something like this hasn't been seen before in modern cinema. The idea of bringing the poetic literary visual back into films suddenly struck a chord with me and for two years, I've carefully plotted the story and concept for what I think has the potential to be something extraordinary, if not groundbreaking.
Now, I've always been a fan of horror; a fan of being taken to a place of utter fear and vulnerability. If someone tells you they fear nothing, beware. I think the essence of fear is what grounds humans beings the most, otherwise, what is the basis of faith? To incorporate an essential human emotion to a style of filming long lost - or rather less appreciated by today's generation - in a modern way, I feel, will bring an unforgettable cinematic experience, reinventing what those pioneering classics brought to audiences and will hopefully blossom into a new genre of its own.
Where there is dissatisfaction in men, there is insidious business for Penelope. For years, she's shamelessly carried out her work with a mysterious onus upon her to make sure business surthrives.
But Penelope's emotions run rampant as she tries hard to keep a controversial secret from the people she works for when, intensely and unexpectedly, her path crosses with Marco.
Marco, having dark secrets of his own, is thrust into Penelope's heinous lifestyle and soon finds use in Penelope's craft to solve his problems. The result of her help is a twisted infatuation that leads to love for the both of them.
Then the unthinkable happens. When Penelope's secret comes to light, forces greater than herself force an end to the treacherous business, but the people who work with Penelope to keep business going refuse to discontinue their work and won't go out without a fight.
In an epic battle to stay alive and hold together their fresh love, Marco and Penelope work to try and put an end to the chaos that's unfolded in the Emerald City. But will they succeed?
"THE CINEMA OF TRANSGRESSION MANIFESTO"
Filmmaker Nick Zedd wrote an article in The Underground Film Bulletin called "The Cinema Of Transgression Manifesto", explaining his philosophy behind creating films that broke from the bonds of what's socially acceptable regarding movie making creativity. He shamelessly stands behind his ideal to push the limits of cinema far beyond "...morality, or any other traditional value systems shackling the minds of men."
Nick Zedd and many filmmakers like him attest to putting forth an exhilarating cinematic experience that forces audiences out of their comfort zones and to question their value systems as well as the values of mankind. Pushing boundaries is an art form in and of itself, an art form that ""Oh, These Emeralds!" truly draws inspiration from.
OUR MAIN GOAL
A silent movie is almost always synonymous with the life and times at the turn of the 20th century. No doubt these classics paved the way for the films we love today, but in modern cinema, especially in big budgeted blockbusters, audiences are bombarded with intricate sound effects, on top of the dramatic performances of the actors, along with an epic score to make the cinematic experience more intense and worthwhile. As amazing and inspiring it is to watch these types of films, for this project, we want to go in a different direction.
With our interpretation of a modern silent movie, we want to tell an epic story, stripping it of the background noise, and only presenting a strong visual using the best of modern filming techniques as well as accompanying it with a strong score inspired by the music of today.
There are so many references to pull from when it comes to filmmaking of the modern era including the essence of entirety in nature films, the in-your-face filming of documentaries, the epic ariels of ancient period films, to the intricate choreographed camerawork in a lot of martial arts movies. For this film, we definitely want to tap into all of those styles to heighten the suspense and to also give a true feast for the viewers eyes so that they'll never quite know what to expect next.
Since this is a silent movie, it's important that it's not just the actors portraying the story, but the videography as well so that it's clear for the audience to understand, making it easy for them to participate with the storytelling.
It only makes sense that we use modern styled music in a modern silent movie. But what is it that's going to make this music stand out from any original movie score? We're going to be working with composer Donnie Bell, who has a unique sound and use of eclectic instruments that we feel really captures the essence of the characters, the setting, and the undertone of the story.
It's rare in independent films that the score is at the forefront of the film; without the sound of dialogue and background noise, the audience has no choice but to not only focus on what's going on, but also how the continuous music carries the story along as if it's conducting everything that's happening on screen.
MATERIAL (wardrobe, props, visual effects material) - $15,000
TALENT (main cast & extras) - $ 22,500
CREW - $18,500
CATERING - $2,250
LOCATION FEES - $5,000
POST PRODUCTION (editing, effects, music) - $7,500
FESTIVAL FEES - $3,500
PROMOTION FEES - $10,350
BACKER REWARDS - $11,500
TOTAL : $115,000
WHEN OUR GOAL IS REACHED
EVERYONE who helped get us here can expect a personal message from the director, thanking you for your faith and dedication to this project. It really means a lot. But once we're there, why stop? If we can raise more than our goal, that would be beyond incredible! We'll have the opportunity to put extra work into bringing THE best quality film we can bring.
The exciting thing about this project is the fact that we'll actually be filming in Seattle. I'm sure you've seen movies that "take place" here, but it's more than likely that those films weren't filmed here at all. That's the magic of editing. All people really need to see is the Space Needle then a fairly grungy street corner and people will think it's Seattle - that's why it's more popular to film in Vancouver and Portland, because both have areas that could easily pass off as the good old Emerald City - but we don't want to fool you.
We will be filming in and around downtown Seattle, particularly in some of the well known locations like the tunnel stations, waterfront, and areas around "Belltown", as well as some of the more grittier areas hardly scene by large audiences.
One of our goals is also to showcase this pacific northwestern culture, it's art form of unified passive aggression that many call the "Seattle Freeze" as well as the more lively characters your not likely to meet anywhere else.
The action in the film is big! The huge advantage we have with the fact that this film, even though silent, is made using modern filming styles is that we have the opportunity to take you to places you never thought a silent film - a low budget independent film for that matter - could go. But just to assure you, this isn't an "action movie". The action is a big part of this story, it is not the focal point of the film.
Now, what's a good thriller without some psychological mayhem? One of the main characters, Marco, deals with the regrets he has by hallucinating that he's physically fighting against them -- Quick! The first ten people to leave a comment on this page guessing correctly what film this references gets a free t - shirt with designs based on our film! -- We go with Marco as he painfully reminisces about the woman who bore his child, to the immoral debt he's paid to his brother. The choice to make Marco physically fight off his regretful pasts was to show, in the end, how strong he is coming out of it. Don't worry, this isn't spoiler alert.
The other main character, Penelope, leads a lifestyle in this film where action is a given. Without giving too much away, let's just say she has to fight to make sure her clients don't leave in one piece!
Shit hits the fan quick when Penelope's dark secret comes to light, and Marco has to defend himself and this crazy woman he's grown to love as things go from bad to worse. This is when majority of the other main casts action comes in. Each main character has their own battle to face that requires them to get physical for their survival and for what they stand for.
The physical demand for the moments of horror, though, is just as crucial. For every horror film, there is a victim, and in this film, there are many; this is where Extras come extremely in handy for us.
In order for us to pull off these incredible moments, it's important for us to work with professional stunt coordinators who can make sure everything we need done is executed safely and who can be there to make sure we don't try anything that can't be. We'll be working with the best we can find that fits within our budget and hopefully giving those big shots in hollywood a run for their money!
Many of the props featured in the film will be original creations as they are symbolic to many of the main characters. For this, concepts are yet to be determined as this is a great opportunity for us to find and showcase some local talented craftsmen and women of the Pacific Northwest.
Regarding the horror aspect of the film, we can't shy away from what the gore of this film means. Nick Zedd put it best: "...any film which doesn't shock isn't worth looking at."
HOWEVER, even though the goal is to create exhilarating cinema, when you see a movie that purely focuses too much on the shock factor, the audience is truly left out on the experience of connecting with the actually story and feeling for each character, instead just waiting for the next irrelevant act of violence or explicit material.
Everything in this film happens for a specific reason, and pushing certain boundaries and having our audience understand the reasons behind it, gives them more time to question each actions coming affects, thus hopefully feeling truly accomplished with their participation in storytelling when the film is over.
With everything said, we have an ambitiously tight filming schedule, slated to begin in January with post production completed by mid March.
WHEN THE FILM IS COMPLETED
Having the film completed before the summer will give us the advantage of submitting it to as many local and international film festivals we possibly can for the 2013-2014 festival circuit. It will be a while before the film is available for public purchase, but for everyone involved, including our backers who pledge the required amount, they will receive DVD copies of the film as well as music from the soundtrack.
A few special screenings will be planned in the Seattle area after the film's festival runs - should it meet the guidelines of any or all festivals that officially select it - for the general public to hopefully generate buzz around the film so the big thing here is promoting it as much as we can. There is no telling what's going to happen to the film when we submit it to festivals, how far it will go, if it's even selected. We can only hope for the best, but by offering the chance for the general public to see the film, should they receive it well, it's a greater opportunity for the word to be spread about it and for more people to hopefully show interest in seeing it as time goes on.
HELPING AND GETTING THE WORD OUT
This is a rare opportunity to make something really special. If you've ever wondered if a silent film could work in the modern era of filmmaking, now is your chance to be a part of making that happen. Pledging any amount to this project is EXTREMELY appreciated and crucial for its success. But if we're going to get this done, and done right, pledging is only the beginning.
We encourage you to spread the word about the project, tell your friends, family, your neighbors, and co-workers; get as many people as you can to notice this project. Especially if you like the horror genre, you'll definitely be proud to have been a part of this awesome movie making experience!
Risks and challenges
It's pretty obvious that making a movie is a lot of hard work and there are things that can come up, some we can plan for, some we can't. The weather might prove to be the biggest issue since we're filming in the height of winter in the pacific northwest, and in that case, some delays are to be expected.
It's also always a risk when stunts are involved in filmmaking. Our stunt coordinators will be working to make sure the process is a fun and safe experience, but should someone get hurt during filming, we'll definitely take responsibility and accommodate them for any injuries that occur.
Filming on location is another huge risk. In the places we don't have permits to film, there's sure to be issues with bystanders who might not be too generous to give up public space for an independent film crew. We can only deal with this one step at a time. Luckily, should any problems with one location occur, Seattle has many beautiful spots to film without compromising the needs for the story.
When it comes to cast and crew and collaborators, everyone who chose to be a part of this project has faith in it and has the finish line in mind. Whether it be differences with the project's progression or simply the fact that more important matters have come up that need to be dealt with in someone's life, losing a team member can always put a project in jeopardy. That being said, we are prepared, should anything of this nature occur, to take the time to make sure everything is in place before resuming production.
Thank you so much! A pledge of $50 gets you everything mentioned above, a DVD which will include both a "faint of heart" version and the extreme director's cut of the film, as well as downloads to over 50 pages of concept art!
For people in the Seattle area, you'll receive two free tickets to the films premier included with an invitation to the after party!
You've just earned yourself an Associate Producer credit in the film! Along with everything mentioned in the previous reward, you will also receive a special prop from the film! (Certain special props will be saved for people who pledge more!)
Wanna meet the cast? Along with everything mentioned in the previous reward, as well as a Blu-Ray copy which will include both cuts of the film and behind the scenes features, you will get a scheduled Skype interview with the main cast and the director! (This is exclusive for people who pledge $250!)
The biggest thank you isn't enough! You get everything mentioned in the "Pledge $100 or more" reward as well as the "Oh, These Emeralds! Deluxe Package" which includes a 41"X54" film poster signed by the cast, a Blu-Ray copy of the film, and a special book including photos from behind the scenes, a copy of the script, original concept art, and a special 15 page comic book that acts as the film's epilogue! Also included in the package is not one, but are ALL FOUR custom designed t-shirts based on themes from the film!
Want to come to one of our festival premiers? Pledging $1,000 gets you all the rewards mentioned above AND transportation to and from the premier location (excluding airfare), as well as a special dinner with the director, cast, and crew!
You are now an Executive Producer! This means you get to call some shots and direct a special scene from the movie! There are three alternate endings to the film that are planned to be released as a special feature with the Blu-Ray of the film. And guess what? You just earned the chance to co-direct one of them! Scripts for the alternate endings will be sent to you and you will choose which scene you want to be a part of co-directing. After details are discussed, we'll provide the transportation to and from our location, and you'll get to come to set and work your magic!
You've just brought the film to you! Along with the credit of an Executive Producer and the rewards from the "Pledge $500 or more" reward, the director and available cast will come to your hometown (anywhere in the U.S) and give you a screening of the movie for you, your friends, and family before it's main premier! You'll be the firsts to see it before anyone else! All you do is provide the venue and we'll bring the party!