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A feature film about a 12-year-old being raised by women who is taken through the rite of passage of killing a deer for the first time
A feature film about a 12-year-old being raised by women who is taken through the rite of passage of killing a deer for the first time
230 backers pledged $25,060 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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We know it sounds crazy, and that's exactly why we want to do it. As far as we can tell, no film project has done a funding campaign while shooting their movie, and we think that's exciting. We want all of you to engage with the experience of the filmmaking process, and see what it's like to be with us on set in real time. That's why we'll be posting behind the scenes footage from set during the weeks of the campaign to let you know how things are going, and how your donations will be helping us succeed!

The Jerome Foundation awarded us with our seed money earlier this year, which has allowed us to get this far in the process. Thanks to them we have been able to get the momentum we needed to get the production where we are today!

 We've been rehearsing for 6 months, and planning for even longer. The cast and crew are ready to tell this story, and our gears are oiled. We've developed this film into a great piece, and have brought on some of the most talented people in Minnesota and beyond to bring it to life.

 It Wasn't Until I Was Twelve that I first faced the fatal decision of taking the life of a creature bigger than myself, in a family deer hunt, and it wasn't until much later that I realized how important that moment had become. The profound lessons--that may not have been entirely deliberate, though unleashed from the genes of my keepers--created in me an acute sense of place in the structure of life and nature.

I later discovered that the act of the death experience ritual is an essential part of many cultures throughout the world for children about twelve years of age. From the tribes of New Guinea, to Asia, Africa and the Americas, runs a common understood truth on this topic: one can only fully assume the role of adult by killing the “infantile ego” through the actual act of killing, or an experience like death.

As I got older and began to explore the world, taking distance from the environment and annual ritual of deer hunting, I noticed how the power of taking a life, butchering an animal, and meditating through the act was empowering. It changes you. It seemed clear that those who had not lived through this change have a fundamentally different experience of life.

Cold November is a hybrid narrative feature film that will be the second in a trilogy shot in the same location in northern Minnesota (Pollywogs being the first of that trilogy). The film follows Florence, a 12-year-old girl being raised within a matriarchal family who put a lot of weight on the pragmatic and traditional ritual of a child's first hunt. Through the guidance of her mother, grandmother, aunts and uncle, Florence discovers and accepts the path she must take while simultaneously living through the aftermath of a recent family trauma.

In revealing the timeless mythology embodied by this modern American rite of passage, and in the hunting and mourning experiences of a girl who is becoming a woman, I hope to spark thought about how facing mortality is a fundamental and confronting part of what it means to be human.

Stereotyping the hunting ritual as an inherently male practice is another topic about which I hope to challenge and ignite thought. As the sole young male in a “tribe” of women who guided me through this ritual in my own childhood, I understood that my mother, aunts, and grandmother had also gone through this experience as young women. Using them as a resource in developing the character of Florence has brought a unique and interesting female perspective to this story.

The Approach I will take in executing this film will be similar to the first in this series. By continuing to use a number of guidelines that reveal a very natural sense of social structure and lifestyle, I hope again to capture a cultural snapshot specific to northern Minnesota. This guideline framework, which has previously yielded rewarding aspects in Pollywogs, serves as the backbone for driving the structure of the production and involves the following: 

1. Casting as many locals as possible who have the talent and look required to successfully perform the role. This allows for natural sounding dialogue and accents, and room for improvisational gems to work their way into the story.

2. Using local assets for all of the locations, props, and costumes to portray an accurate sense of aesthetic and history.

3. Integrating the environment and its cues to inform the storytelling as we shoot. 

4. Improvising modifications to the characters and story as discoveries are made during rehearsal and production.

Inspired by the styles of Mike Leigh, Lars von Trier, Robert Altman, John Cassavetes and even Joe Swanberg--with whom I have collaborated--I continue to explore the richness that this approach illuminates and provokes. One difference in Cold November is that the structure will be much more rigid than Pollywogs, with a more formed script and more focused approach to the cinematography. I am excited to see how this process grows into the next phase of form discovery.

The Team I have assembled begins with my visual collaborator Benjamin Kasulke as cinematographer, my trusted producing colleague and mentee, Jessica Bergren as producer, Stefanie Toftey as associate producer, and a stellar team of local Minnesota talent that will round out our crew.  We also have assembled a 100% local Minnesota cast that includes a cream of the crop of local talent: Anna Klemp, Heidi Fellner, Mary Kay Fortier-Spalding, Alaina Lucy Rivera, and the magnetic and charming 11-year-old Bijou Abas in the role of Florence.

11/12/15 -- We've added to our reward list: a one of a kind hand-knit beer can hat that is a wrapped prop from the movie!

Beer Can Hat in Action
Beer Can Hat in Action

Risks and challenges

We have already had the generous backing of the Jerome Foundation to get us to this point in the project, but without your support we will not be able to get to the end. We still need money for camera and sound equipment, food, gas, lighting, stipends to pay the crew, and many more items on the production list. It's not easy to pull a film like this together, but we are confident in the support that the Minnesota community, and audiences around the world like YOU. We've done it before, and we can do it again with your help!

There will be a lot of challenges with this film, as there are on every set, and we have been spending months to prepare to make sure our set runs smoothly.

Watch how we deal with these challenges and how everything unfolds by keeping up with our process through our behind the scenes photos, blog and videos!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Your name in the credits of the film as a backer, and access to exclusive weekly video updates from set.

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    Desktop wallpaper collection of behind the scenes and set stills.

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    Exclusive pre-release digital download of the finished film. (Date subject to change, according to release schedule)

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    Pledge $37 or more About $37

    Original portrait of cast or crew member drawn as a gesture drawing, signed by the subject and artist.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Mom & Grandma's guide to Northern Minnesota restaurants, and a collection of their favorite recipes. Delivered digitally.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Cold November themed "Yule Log" video, featuring fires and scenes from Northern Minnesota. It will be digitally delivered in time for the holiday season, with your tailored message added to the titles.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    2 Tickets to a private sneak-preview screening of the film in Hibbing, MN.

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    Pledge $95 or more About $95

    Customized, cast-signed, blaze orange knit cap.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Enrollment in a one-day acting workshop in Minneapolis taught by the film's director, Karl Jacob, over a weekend in January 2016. Choose between a Saturday and Sunday class. (maximum 30 students per class).

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Come visit us on the set of Cold November during principle photography! (Airfare and transportation to Hibbing not included!)

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    A one-and-only hand-knit beer can hat that is a wrapped prop from the movie! (See the story section of our page for a photo of the hat in action).

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Take a Sauna with the cast on location during principle photography! (Airfare and transportation to Hibbing not included!)

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    Pledge $395 or more About $395

    Limited edition original storyboards, annotated and signed. (limited to this award, not available at higher award levels)

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    2 tickets to the film's world or Minnesota premiere (your choice of location, airfare and lodging not included)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Choose a design in which director Karl Jacob shaves his beard after production, and get daily emails with a photo of him sporting the new beard in public for a week. (limited to only this award level, as Karl only has one face)

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Leave a little piece of yourself in Minnesota! Name one of the 2 roads in St. Louis County that are on the property that the film is shot on. Once the sign is installed, a photo if it will be taken and sent to you!

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Pick one of the provided designs of a whitetail deer, which director Karl Jacob will tattoo on his body, with your 10 character (non-vulgar) message underneath. (tattoo price not included, billed separately)

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Funding period

- (30 days)