We're writing this note with 10 minutes left in our Frank & Zed Kickstarter campaign. Bringing Puppetcore out into the world has been thrilling, strange, scary, and wonderful all at the same time.
We have many stories left to tell; come find out which one we're telling now.
Thanks to all who were with us on this leg of our journey.
Jesse & Team Puppetcore
Final film will be 35 minutes of complete puppet mayhem!
Centuries ago, a desperate battle left a village wasted, a new bride dead, and two mortal enemies dependent on each other for survival. Forgotten amongst the crumbling ruins, our two heroes have eked out a meager existence, each responsible for feeding the other.
One fateful day, a villager trespasses into Frank's hunting grounds. The resulting 'harvest' provides Zed with a full tummy and sets the entire town on a course of bloody retribution.
Our undead heroes are out-numbered, out-axed, and falling apart but they're not going down without orchestrating a macabre symphony of blood, guts, & felt.
"We open on Frankenstein's Monster in a HUGE rotten castle..."
How do you tell that story if you are an independent filmmaker in the Pacific Northwest? Our answer: Puppets.
It all comes down to control. Using puppets, filming in a converted garage, and self-funding the film has given us the ability to tell the stories we want to tell with as few compromises as possible.
We can create our characters exactly as we see in our heads, mis-stitched eyeballs, gaping head wounds, and all. We can take our time making sure each shot reaches its full potential. Our characters can chop, maim, kill and be killed in the fantastic locations in which they belong. We can make the film as it should be made.
Of course, the price you pay is that every shot becomes a special effect!
There's nothing more rewarding nor challenging for us than making an inanimate object come to life; it's just magic when it works. To do that and to scare people is the greatest thrill we've found in the world of filmmaking.
We love practical effects. (You don't get into horror to play with CG blood.) The visceral realism and happy accidents that occur bring the films to life in a way that we feel is worth the extra time and effort.
We've also committed to hand-building the entire world of Frank & Zed. Whether it's constructing a silicone puppet from scratch or re-purposing an old candle holder to create a stained glass window, we want every element on screen to be something you've never seen before.
People always ask, 'How far along are you?' to which we reply, 'If you count pre-production, we're at least halfway done."
The majority of the last two years has been spent designing and building the characters, props, and sets, designing mechanisms, and assembling the core production team.
The story of Frank & Zed will be told in 450 shots. We know this, because we have storyboarded the entire film and created a full-length animatic. We then use these tools to workshop the puppets and mechanisms and plan the camera placement and movement. This saves valuable production time.
We've also completed roughly 16% of principal photography, including all of the castle interiors sequences that feature Frank and Zed as well as some key moments from the final, epic battle that were possible in our small studio. Below is a sample of scenes from the film that are not in the trailer.
The finished film will dwarf the trailer in scope and badass-ness. (There are some fantastic shots we couldn't pull off in the garage. Dear viewer, you're in for a real treat when the film is done!)
Stretch Goals! See Chart at top of page.
The world of Frank & Zed is big and our characters move throughout the breadth of it. When you watch the film, we want you to completely forget they are puppets and just get lost in their story. To achieve this we need your help.
We also want to connect with you. We make our films for the audience. One of the fantastic benefits of Kickstarter is that we can extend that past the film itself and invite you along for the ride of the filmmaking process itself.
We'll be providing major updates via Kickstarter, if you're interested in seeing even more of the day-to-day production, join us on Facebook or Twitter.
These sweet banners will take you to social media nirvana!
Every time we film something we're really saying, 'We think this is cool and we want to show it to you!' Now, with the rewards, we can put that cool stuff in your hands. We've worked really hard to make the rewards great. We hope you like them!
The rewards are almost all 'packages' so you get a whole bunch of cool loot. For instance, at the $95 t-shirt level, you will also receive the DVD or Blu-Ray, the Frank Print, and the poster. Lots of cool stuff!
We are hand-dying the resin of each mini-set in exclusive colors for the Kickstarter campaign. These guys are over three inches tall and made of solid resin. We've painted a couple of them to show you the detail.
All the props at this level will be screen used from the film. We'll have a grab bag of brains, heads, gears, and other goodies that we will send out once the film is done. The above picture shows you some of the items most of which can be spotted in the trailer.
We would love to get you in the film itself. We have loads of sets and props to make and getting your name or mug on them would be so much fun. Whenever possible, we'll also send you the prop or set piece with your name on it once we wrap.
Our villagers belong to the 'Cult of Krampus' and have decorated all of their holy weapons with his visage. Take one of these screen-used beauties home with you. These weapons are all hand-sculpted, molded, cast, and painted and featured throughout the film.
We've attempted to make shipping as fair as possible. For U.S. backers, we've rolled the shipping cost into the pledge amount. Our international backers will find their shipping charges added as they check out. We've kept them as reasonable as possible.
The story of Puppetcore begins with me as a filmmaker. I had been making films and enjoying some success: I was picked by Drew Barrymore for a film series and a true highlight was having George Romero pick my zombie short film (despite having running zombies!) to be distributed on the Diary of the Dead DVD. *("Protege" may be a bit generous, but hey...) But I still struggled to tell the stories I wanted to tell.
At that particular time, I wanted to tell a barbershop horror story:in a moment of desperation, I turned to puppets. The resulting film was Shine.
What this experience taught me was that there was an audience who had as much fun watching the films as I had making them. I was hooked.
From there we went on to do Chompers, a proof-of-concept trailer for a shape-shifting monster feature (script and storyboards are done, financiers!).
While writing the script for Chompers, I conceived the initial idea for Frank and Zed. I talked to the team and we decided to pursue Frank and Zed as a full demonstration of what we want to do with puppets. Not only was it a chance to show off our technical prowess, but tell an actual story with characters you care about. What lead sculptor, Erin DeBray coined as "Puppetcore." A sandbox we hope to be playing in for a long time to come.
Risks and challenges
Every project encounters risks, challenges, obstacles and pitfalls; anyone who says differently is selling something (thank you, Westley). Frank & Zed is no different. However, we feel confident that we're in a good place to succeed. Here’s what we’ve done to prepare:
-Because this style of filmmaking is so laborious, we’ve storyboarded the entire film so that no effort is wasted.
-We’ve filmed over 30% of the film already. During this process, we workshopped the entire production pipeline from creating the puppets through post-production.
- You’re not just hiring one person: you are hiring an entire team. We inspire, motivate, and help each other. After all, it takes a village to raise these guys.
- We’ve completed extensive preproduction on the remaining parts of the film including sketching out the locations and developing the mechanisms for all the new characters.
- We’re not afraid of what we don’t know. We created four different slimes from scratch (KY mix, PVA, Borax, and Methucellulose) before finding the right stuff in "Goo #5." We didn’t know anything about slime before but we sure did our homework. This is how we approach every problem. Work. Work. Then work some more.
- We have a track record. Although certainly our biggest, this is not our first film. We've included links to two other Puppetcore Films here.
- Lastly, we care. We love this film. We love the characters. We’ve found that you have to if you’re going to keep going on a project like this.
Of course, anyone can say the above. We wanted to show you. This is why we put two years into the project before bringing it out. We hope you see characters and a world you love as much as we do. We can’t wait to show you the rest.
The Puppetcore TeamLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (23 days)