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An animated short about two gay men struggling with depression in a ruined environment, and a botanical glassblower mourning his wife.
85 backers pledged $5,638 to help bring this project to life.

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The Story

Flora Borealis tells two stories about our troubled relationship to the natural world. 

The first is a story of renewal in a darkened future, a tale of queer love and a chance for redemption as two men, Pat and Theo, struggle with depression in a ruined environment. 

Theo knows they need to make a radical break with the past and start over somewhere new, but Pat feels this effort is hopeless. To buoy Pat, Theo tells him a story.

The story Theo tells is one of the past, of loss and hubris, of art and science, of knowledge and morality, as a botanical glassblower mourns his dead wife. Haunted by her memory, he seeks solace in nature, which leads him on a fantastic journey.

The two tales weave together, as both Pat and the glassblower struggle to find hope in despair and appreciate the beauty of nature. 

Pat and Theo
Pat and Theo
The Glassblower
The Glassblower

Why This Film Is Important

Film has the power to change perceptions. 

The pressing issue of our time, Global Warming, is a product of the view that the earth and nature are resources there for us to exploit. 

I hope this film can challenge that idea, and maybe shift the conversation towards working with nature, rather than against it.

This film is also important because it pushes the boundaries of animation. 

It will made of 3d models, 3d scans from Harvard's Ware Collection of Glass Flowers, and rotoscoped actors shot on a green screen. For every frame we shoot, I’m going to create one drawing. This means I’ll be doing about 10,000 drawings to bring this film to life. 

Concept Art
Concept Art
Garden concept art
Garden concept art

Director’s Statement

I’m interested in exploring two things in my work: inequality, and nature. This film looks out how these things affect each other and us, whether physically or psychologically. I want to explore why we view nature as something to be controlled and wonder if humanity can return to a more loving and reciprocal relationship with the world. Until now, I've done so in a series of drawings and some short animations, but this is my chance to look at plants and people on a slightly larger scale.

The ideas for the film came to me in parts, but a big inspiration was discovering the story of Leopold Blaschkha, who made thousands of glass flowers for Harvard in the late 19th and early 20th century. I was inspired by how he found solace in nature after his wife’s death, and by his amazing ability to perfectly recreate flowers from glass.

The Blaschkas' Glass Flowers, from the Ware Collection at the Harvard Museum of Natural History
The Blaschkas' Glass Flowers, from the Ware Collection at the Harvard Museum of Natural History
More glass flowers from Harvard's Ware Collection
More glass flowers from Harvard's Ware Collection

Our Team:

Casey Friedman (Writer / Director / Animator)

Casey is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and artist, and a graduate of Brown University with a degree in Sociology. Originally from Montclair, NJ, he is the Spring 2019 Valentine & Clark Emerging Artist Fellow at the Jacob Burns Film Center. He has worked at Cinereach, Ghetto Film School, DCTV, and Meteor Films. He's interested in queer ecology, environmental justice, and is exploring the history of colonialism through botany.

Sean Weiner (Producer)

Sean is the Director of Creative Culture - Fellowship & Residency Programs at the Jacob Burns Film Center. He has produced films that have screened at festivals around the world.

Jake DeNicola (Cinematographer) 

Jake  is a NYC based Director and Director of Photography. Along with his interest in visual anthropology, comes his deeply passionate and active engagement in filmmaking and music.

Michael Cafiero (Landscape Designer)

Michael is a student in the Landscape Architecture program at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. He's interested in regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and all things green.

Why Donate?:

I’m raising funds so I can pay the talented people who will bring my vision to life! That includes the actors, the cinematographer, the sound recordist, and the composer. 

I need pay these people for their time, as well as feed them during our four days of shooting. They also need transportation to the soundstage where we’ll be shooting. 

During post production, I’m going to need to rent out a more powerful computer that will allow me to composite everything (the rotoscoped actors, the 3d backgrounds, and the 3d models) together. This costs big bucks!

Any support you can provide is greatly appreciated, and highly rewarded! Check out those perks!

Timeline:

Pre Production: May 1 - May 24

We’re finalizing casting decisions, and starting to plan the shoot.

Shoot Dates: May-June

Shooting begins in May on the soundstage at the Jacob Burns Film Center and wraps in June.

Post Production and Animation: June - October

Casey will doing the animation and compositing, and we have a great team of other talented individuals who will doing composing, sound mixing, and color grading!

Concept Art
Concept Art
Concept Art
Concept Art
Concept Art
Concept Art

Learn More:

Curious about our planet's impending doom? Here are the basics. Here's a sobering reminder from the UN. Here's a list of organizations working on fighting global warming that you can support- but make sure to do your research!

Want to learn more about Harvard's Ware Collection of Glass Flowers? Click here!

What is rotoscoping? Here's a handy video!

What is 3d scanning? Here's another handy video!

Video music: Open Space by | e s c p | https://escp-music.bandcamp.com

Risks and challenges

The main challenge this project faces is combining 3 different types of media - live action footage of actors that will be rotoscoped (a process which involves creating a drawing for every frame shot), 3d sets I’ve created in Cinema 4d, and 3D scans I’ve taken of the glass flowers the Blaschkhas created in the 19th century. As far as I can tell, no one has created a film that combines all three of these techniques in this way, but the actual workflow is not unprecedented, so there are plenty of resources available for whatever challenges arise!

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Funding period

- (30 days)