About this project
Off duty from his job with the U.S. Forest Service, 30yo. Zach takes up a house sitting gig for his aunt and uncle. Spending time in a remote landscape, he reconnects with his ex-girlfriend Ellyn, working playfully to rekindle their old bond. Gradually, the two begin to experience a series of strange events and unexplainable phenomena.
Countering depictions of menacing beings and fear-based scenarios, A MORNING LIGHT will infer that extraterrestrial visitation stems from an ecological standpoint—nurturing the likelihood of benevolent curiosity.
Verité, atmosphere and experimental form combine in a quiet, psychologically tense exploration that assumes humanity is in its intellectual and spiritual infancy.
September 1-18, 2014 / Oregon • In Association with Borscht Corp.
501c3 Sponsorship by Eastern Oregon Film Festival
Contributions are tax-deductible—read the FAQ below for details.
WHY MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT EXTRATERRESTRIALS?
My last project MMXIII often had me looking toward the sky—entranced by the colors, beauty, and subtleties I observed; it's a captivating space, and one that's always evolving. Throughout the production I developed a curiosity about celestial bodies, movements, and meaning.
Around this same time, I starting coming across public testimony by a range of individuals, including renowned figures such as the former Canadian Minister of Defense, Paul Hellyer, and Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Mack. Hellyer maintains that the U.S. military has been in contact with a number of extraterrestrial groups since the late 1940s, while Mack—initially a skeptic—ultimately came to trust his clinical judgment over his understanding of reality, concluding that the abduction narratives described by his patients were real.
Related research nurtured my curiosity and I began to question why the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence was being dismissed by the scientific community, academia, and popular media.
I've always been interested in exploring our relationship to the natural world, and considering humanity's damaging ecological impact, began to speculate how this might create a scenario prompting visitation.
Just as much as this is a project about supposed abduction, it will also investigate the psychological impact of the forest and the disorienting effects of an unfamiliar landscape.
ZACH WEINTRAUB • Actor
Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Weintraub is an actor and filmmaker whose performances have been praised by critics in Variety, L Magazine, and Time Out New York. His directorial efforts include Bummer Summer, The International Sign for Choking, and You Make Me Feel So Young, and have screened at festivals worldwide including AFI Fest, BAFICI, Viennale, and many more.
CELIA ROWLSON-HALL • Actor
New York-based Rowlson-Hall is a critically-acclaimed filmmaker, choreographer, and Bessie award-winning performer. Her short works The Audition, Prom Night, and Si Nos Dejan have screened at SXSW and the Borscht Film Festival. She has worked as a choreographer on numerous commercial projects, including collaborations with Vogue, MGMT, and Lena Dunham’s HBO series GIRLS.
IAN CLARK • Writer, Director, Cinematographer, Producer
Named one of Filmmaker's 25 New Faces of Independent Film, Clark received his MFA in Digital Art from the University of Oregon and since 2009 has completed three features and one mid-length short. Recent projects Country Story, Searching for Yellow, and MMXIII have screened at BAFICI, Borscht Film Festival, and New Orleans’ Cinema Reset, amongst others. Clark is also a founding member and Programmer of Eastern Oregon Film Festival, and the newly-created Treefort Film Fest—community projects that have been featured by Hammer to Nail, IndieWIre, Tribeca, and Entertainment Weekly.
JIM CUMMINGS • Producer
Cummings is a producer at Ornana. He produced the feature films Euphonia, which premiered at SXSW in 2013, and The Grief of Others—based on the New York Times Bestselling novel. In 2010, he created San Francisco 3D Films where he produces and edits 3D films and commercials. He is an alumni of Filmmaker’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film.
BENJAMIN WIESSNER • Producer
Wiessner studied writing at Emerson College where he began working with the film collective Ornana. He continues to produce and work with story for the group. He produced Patrick Wang's second feature, The Grief of Others, which is currently in post-production. He also helped build a print press/art and literature community organization using only coffee and experimentation; her name is The Operating System.
WHY DO WE NEED YOUR HELP?
We're trying to raise $9,000—which constitutes roughly 1/3 of our total budget. Some of you might feel like this is a significant amount of money in itself, while others might feel like it's not nearly enough. In many ways, both perspectives are correct. One of the skills this team has developed over the years is sourcing as many of our needs as possible through in-kind donations. However, there are many parts of the process that simply cost money. Our promise to our funders is that every dollar donated will show up on screen. The more money that you help us raise, the more we can do for this project.
Everyone on the team has earned a reputation of being fiercely independent, bringing project after project to audiences also searching for something authentic. We've cleared our schedules to come together this September, and as a group of experienced filmmakers, the biggest challenge for us will be raising funds. Borscht Corp. has already stepped up and offered a small project grant to help make A MORNING LIGHT.
For the rest of the funding, we will rely on our communities in order to make this project a reality. Let's make this project happen together! Every dollar counts!
We're reaching out and asking for your help, because it's people like you who make independent cinema possible. The biggest hurdle for us will be fundraising, but we've found some amazing locations, a phenomenal cast, and are building a hard-working crew to support them.
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT THE PROJECT!
We understand that not everyone can donate and we would be psyched if you would share this project on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc! Crowdfunding is an uphill battle, and any help getting the word out and sharing with others is greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much for considering this project—we can't wait to bring A MORNING LIGHT to life!
If there's anything else you'd like to know, we'd love to hear from you. Additionally, if you're a potential in-kind supporter please get in touch.
Kickstarter Inquiries • Ben Wiessner / email@example.com
501c3/In-Kind Inquiries • Ian Clark / firstname.lastname@example.org
Risks and challenges
Oftentimes, filmmakers will present a list of comparable titles to demonstrate the viability of investment. Increasingly, and because there are literally thousands of small-to-midsize features made every year, these comparisons mean little; independent cinema is simply a speculative endeavor. We believe our project has the potential to be shown widely at festivals, and acquire distribution, but it would be unwise to count on best-case scenarios. However, given today's changing distribution landscape, we are confident in our ability to establish a release strategy that makes sense for the project. With previous works, our team has dedicated themselves to alternative approaches in order to find an active audience for challenging cinema.
Both production and post-production will be difficult, but we trust that the constraints of a DIY approach will nurture creative growth, force us to do more with less, and push us to craft an even better project than the one we have in mind.
We will keep production costs low, invest in grassroots filmmaking, and collaborate directly with YOU! Ultimately, we’re doing this because we aspire to contribute a striking, innovative work of cinema to our community.
Thanks again for considering our project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Since A MORNING LIGHT has obtained 501c3 sponsorship through Eastern Oregon Film Festival, all funds raised on Kickstarter will not count as taxable income. This is great for us because it means that every penny can go toward the production. And it's great for you because you have the option of writing off your contribution!
Want to take advantage of this? Simply report your contribution next April (minus the approximate $ value of the backer rewards you received). We will provide .pdf documentation if requested, including an itemized breakdown of your rewards, total value, etc.
If desirable, please email us by August 15—include your name, the $ amount of your contribution, and the level of your reward (i.e. DIGITAL PACK XL) in the subject line.
bcwiessner (at) gmail (dot) com
The artist whose work will be featured in A MORNING LIGHT wished to remain anonymous during pre-production. However, I want to sincerely thank everyone who has reached out so far and shared their work. Lots of talented people out there.
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