UPDATE: May 5
California’s future nightmare will soon be a reality! Huzzah!
Thanks to you, we did it! We hit our $23K goal. There are a few days left if you still want to be a part of the hilarity!
Any additional funds raised will be used towards the production of an additional third episode. For these early episodes, we are volunteering our time, to stretch the money as far as possible, to hire talent to work with us to create as much animation as we can.
As producer Diana Williams tweeted recently, “Comedy communicates truth indirectly. Chinafornia will do just that.” Heck yeah! Let’s do this!
Thanks as always for your incredible support!
* Thank you, Filmmaker Magazine, for featuring us on your curated page! *
Hello, everyone! I’m Ellie Lee. I’m an animation & fiction filmmaker, and I’m excited to start work on an animated comedy web series called Chinafornia. Written in the spirit of The Daily Show & The Simpsons, the pilot script was created & written by myself & Peter Dowd, and it won the 2011 Tribeca Film Institute’s Tribeca All Access Transmedia Award. Here’s the premise:
America, 2018. The economy remains in a tailspin. Some Americans even cancel their cable. Unable to pay the $10 trillion it owes to China, the U.S. comes up with a plan to erase the debt: it gives China the state of California.
“Chinafornia” is born, and Chinese Vice Premier Jidong Chen is placed in charge. It will be up to Mr. Chen – who has studied California through meticulous viewings of “Baywatch” – to manage the takeover & the chaos that follows. And it will be up to reporter Jasper Davenport, “America's Most Watched & Most Sexy Newsman,” to force Mr. Chen to answer to the people of Chinafornia.
Can Chinese determination & American creativity combine to build a better world? Or will Chinese stubbornness & American boneheadedness form the perfect cocktail for a state even more screwed up than California already is?
We’ve written 20 five-minute scripts for the web series. A sampling of the stories include:
MR. CHEN VS. THE FREE PRESS
Chinafornia’s new leader Mr. Chen, realizing he is no match for the free press, takes control over the media, with a strategy to “sedate the people with sports, gossip & internet cat videos.” When reporter Jasper Davenport goes rogue, Mr. Chen arrests him live on the air, inciting statewide riots that threaten to topple the newborn republic.
WELCOME TO TOILET TOWN
Mr. Chen has a plan to revive the Chinafornian economy. He re-names Bakersfield "Toilet Town," and intends to make it the world's center for toilet & toilet brush manufacturing.
WEST SIDE CHINESE STORY
In this musical episode, Mr. Chen, despite his “brain saying go away from the lady!”, falls in love with his daughter’s American History teacher, Whitney Van Ness. The trouble: neither the Communist Party nor the Teacher’s Union would ever approve. Forced to keep their passions a secret, Chen & Van Ness profess their love for each other through songs including "Beautiful Caucasian Lady" & “Powerful Government Official (with a Soft Side).” When the head of the teacher’s union declares war on Mr. Chen & his union-busting ways, they must choose between each other or their party lines.
U.S. citizens from Nevada, Arizona & Oregon have been sneaking across the Chinafornian border and stealing jobs in Toilet Town. Facing public outcry, Mr. Chen comes up with a plan to kill two birds with one stone: He will build the Great Wall of Chinafornia, blocking the flow of "illegals," while providing a million new jobs.
A year ago, we sent our half-hour pilot script to a few television executives. They thought it was hilarious & original, but “too smart” & “unconventional” for network TV. Well, isn't that what they said about American Gladiators? We kid… but wouldn’t it be satisfying to show the Man that he’s wrong? To show them that people hunger for smarter, funnier programming? With the support of our Kickstarter friends, we’re going to do it & bring this series straight to you!
- With $23,000 raised: I can hire a co-animator, voice talent, a composer, a songwriter, an editor & a producer to create two web episodes.
- With every additional $10,600 raised: I can produce an additional episode. Yes, *every* additional dollar raised will be used to create more episodes! We've written 20!
Since each episode can be produced relatively quickly (2-3 weeks), we can take all the absurd things happening today in politics & pop culture and make fun of it. We’ll be satirical & timely. We’re South Park meets The Colbert Report.
A successful series will allow us to eventually self-fund future episodes, through ad revenue & commercial sponsorships. (Flomax, give us a call!)
Producing more episodes would give us the added benefit of being able to deliver a kickass presentation to broadcast & cable TV networks, with the aim of bringing the series to larger audiences in the future.
I love Chinafornia so much, and I know you will too. If you like smart, hilarious animated comedies, please support us. Tell your friends, follow us on Twitter & Facebook, and join us in making Chinafornia a reality! Thank you as always for your consideration & your support.
Director, Animator & Writer, Chinafornia
Peter Michael Dowd
Writer & Co-Creator
YOU CAN BE IN OUR SHOW! For the character of Chairman Deng, my inspiration was former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. For winners of the drawing and backers at the $1500, $3000 & $5000 levels, I will transform your photos into a character that looks like you (and no, I won’t transform you into an Asian character -- unless you want me to?!!).
- Tribeca Film Institute Announces 2011 Award Winners
- San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival: Ready, Set, Pitch!
- Beijing Cream: A Kickstarter Project Worth Your Attention: Chinafornia
UPDATE: April 19, 2012
Today, The Moth (the wildly popular, MacArthur & Peabody award-winning storytelling organization!) featured one of my performances on their YouTube channel. It’s a story about my immigrant dad & showcases some of the hilarious culture clashes that helped inspire Chinafornia. If you’d like, you can check it out here:
No. Actually, to make two episodes, we’ll need $38,000, and that’s working on a shoestring budget! Animation is labor-intensive. But I am personally digging into my paltry savings account to make up the difference & am volunteering my time to work on these early episodes, because I am passionate about bringing the series to life.
We’ll use the 2 completed episodes to launch the series online, develop a fan base, & continue fundraising through multiple platforms.
And if we exceed our $23,000 goal, we'll just keep making more episodes!
• 90% = Labor: animators, voice talent, songwriter, composer, editor & producer
• 10% = Kickstarter & credit card fees
I started my career as an independent animator & fiction filmmaker. In my work, I’ve alternated between serious issues & comedic scenarios, and have always enjoyed pushing genres & the many ways you can tell a good story. My first film was an animated documentary called Repetition Compulsion, which premiered at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival & received a national Emmy Award nomination. Nice! My second film, the absurdist fiction short, Dog Days, did pretty well too, winning the Grand Jury Award at the 2000 Hamptons Film Festival. For the past decade, I've been producing & directing documentaries for television. If you’re familiar with the storytelling organization, The Moth, I’ve performed in many of their Mainstage shows across the country, and one of my stories, A Kind of Wisdom, was featured on their podcast & on The Moth Radio Hour on NPR. It’s a story about my immigrant dad & showcases some of the hilarious culture clashes that helped inspire Chinafornia. You can watch it here: http://youtu.be/w5nVI7TQPgg
My previous work is completely different in tone & style than Chinafornia, but if you'd like to check it out, please visit: http://vimeo.com/user4681506/videos
Chinafornia won the 2011 Tribeca Film Institute’s Tribeca All Access Transmedia Award & has been selected to participate in the 2012 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival’s live crowd funding event, Ready, Set, Pitch! As we launch this Kickstarter campaign, SFIAAFF is helping us spread the word during their festival in March, which will hopefully help us get closer to our funding goal.
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