[As of December 8, 2014, new rewards have been posted here. Please see the Rewards section below.]
Tree Hugger is a film about Clara, a wide-eyed, innocent, freshman high school student encountering the social pressures of dating, friendship, and sexual expectations. Her best friend Cody has a crush on her, but is dismayed when Clara becomes involved with the cute, popular senior Leo.
Paralleling her life's reality and her desire for Leo's attention, Clara also lives in her own magical world that she created with Cody. By simply shutting her eyes, she can escape reality.
Her fantasy world slowly transforms into a darker and dangerous place as her real life is confronted with imposing threats. She comes to grips with her changed worlds when she realizes that her self-worth does not come from the affirmations of others but from herself. In the end, there is someone she can speak with and trust. Cody has always been there for her.
Tree Hugger hand art by Talia Wahl.
The Director: Kira Bursky
Filmmaker Kira Bursky is a visionary artist, whose unique perspective is already engaging audiences from around the world.
A 2014 graduate of the Motion Picture Arts program at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan, Kira’s films have been screened at the Guam International Film Festival, the White House Student Film Festival, the Chicago International Children's Film Festival, the Princeton Student Film Festival, and the Portland Oregon Women's Film Festival, to name a few.
An award winning filmmaker, Kira's most recent dark fantasy short film We're Okay won Best of Fest at the All American High School Film Festival in New York City in October 2014, First Place at the Mosaic Film Festival 2014 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Second Place at Highway 61 in Pine City, Minnesota. Her fantasy romance film Girly has won Best U.S. Narrative at The Lovett School High School Film Fest in Atlanta, Georgia and First Place at the Mosaic Film Festival 2013 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her film Hello From Malaysia was a Finalist at the first ever White House Student Film Festival. Warm Rush and What Are You?, the former a music video of one of Kira's songs from her debut album Confused Travels and the latter an experimental film have also won various awards.
Kira has been recognized nationally as a 2014 National YoungArts Foundation finalist where she was selected from more than 11,000 high school candidates. Along with 170 national finalists from a variety of art disciplines and six other filmmakers, she spent a week of intense master classes and workshops with internationally renowned artists in Miami, Florida.
Kira was nominated as one of sixty 2014 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts finalists, the highest honor that can be awarded to any artistically talented graduating high school senior. YoungArts serves as the exclusive nominating agency for the artistic graduating high school seniors for the U.S. Presidential Scholars program. Every year YoungArts nominates sixty YoungArts winners to the White House-appointed Commission on Presidential Scholars from which twenty are selected as U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.
All Around Artsy is Kira's film production company, which she founded in 2009. The company has produced approximately thirty films during the past five years.
At the age of eight, Thatcher Johnson-Welden persuaded her parents to allow her to take acting lessons at the local theatre. A couple of months later, she auditioned and was selected for her first theatre role. In 2012, Thatcher began her transition to film, which has included roles in over forty films including the multi-award-winning films Perspective and Cardboard.
Thatcher is proud of the varied characters she has portrayed and the number of lead roles that she has been offered. In 2013, she began a new aspect in her career, voiceover work, and has recorded a vast array of projects.
Thatcher first worked with Kira in the summer of 2013 in the All Around Artsy film: Eating for Beginners. Thatcher is thrilled about the opportunity to once again work with the very talented director Kira Bursky and the rest of the All Around Artsy crew and cast in the dark fantasy Tree Hugger. During this past summer, Thatcher shot her New York City film debut in the supporting role of Krystal in the feature film Life Is Too Short and is scheduled to return to New York in the spring of 2015 to shoot her second film with the same production company.
Jack Fulghum grew up in Powder Springs, Georgia. After taking a drama class his freshman year of high school, he realized that acting was his passion. Since being bitten by the acting bug, he has trained in commercial television, improvisation, monologue performance, scene studies, and acting.
Jack made his film debut in the music video for the song Dream Cave by Cloud Control and appeared in two short films. He is currently working on the web series Gritz. His character, Colby Michaels, is an arrogant, self-centered teenager and captain of the basketball team.
When Jack is not filming, he enjoys hanging out with his friends and playing basketball. Jack is delighted to be cast as Leo in Kira Bursky's short film Tree Hugger.
Sam Bible-Sullivan has been acting in school and community theatre productions since the age of six. Sam is a graduate of the North Carolina Stage Professional Youth Actor Training Program and a member of the International Thespian Society. He is active in the Asheville High drama program and is currently enrolled in Theatre II Honors.
Sam's film experience includes a role in the award-winning 48 Hour Film Project short film, Brown Fat. He recently played the role of Harold in the Asheville High Theatre production of Canteen.
Members of the Crew
Paul Lewis Anderson (Cinematographer)
Paul Lewis Anderson is an Asheville-based filmmaker and photographer. Over the last few years, Paul has served as Director of Photography for nearly a dozen short films, and has written and directed several short films and music videos. Paul recently earned the distinction of Best Director and Best Editor for his most recent film, Split Decision, which also won Best Film and Audience Favorite at the 48 Hour Film Project in 2014.
Paul launched his creative media career at Moog Music in 2010 where he had the privilege of working with a number of legendary musicians and producers. In his short time as Media Director, Paul produced more than 100 videos, many including high profile artists, and oversaw the launch of two on-going live music series: The Moog Sound Lab and AHA AVL. During this time, Paul developed the lustrous style guide by which Moog would continue to produce their photos and videos.
Since then, Paul has made a name for himself as an efficient, high quality, independent, content creator; known for telling engaging stories with striking and surreal imagery.
Wayne Culpepper (Assistant Director)
Wayne Culpepper and Kira Bursky have worked on multiple film projects together. This past summer they began collaborating on a new musical comedy web series, Absurducopia, and have completed five episodes. With growing positive response and an expanding audience, the series wryly and humorously serves up its own brand of social commentary. As co-creators, Kira and Wayne produce each episode of Absurducopia: writing the scripts, composing the music, developing the lyrics, working as their own crew, and starring in each episode.
Kira and Wayne initially met in 2010 at a year long, once a week film class taught at the Carolina Film Institute by Brad Hoover, the gaffer/assistant cameraman for Tree Hugger. As their final course project, Wayne wrote and directed Taste the Power and Kira served as cinematographer. Since then, Wayne has worked on five of Kira's films in a variety of capacities including producer, assistant director, actor, key grip, assistant cameraman, and gaffer.
A professional photographer for the last ten years, Wayne helped to found Fisheye Studios, a commercial photography studio, in 2004 in Greenville, South Carolina. Wayne has served on the board for the American Society of Media Photographers of South Carolina for four years and currently serves on the Greenville Tech Visual and Performing Arts Advisory Board. Wayne’s fine art photography has exhibited in shows and galleries nationally as well as in Europe and China. In his spare time, Wayne is a real-life, aspiring ninja. He has been a contestant on the last two seasons of NBC’s reality show American Ninja Warrior.
Bradley D.P. Hoover (Gaffer and Assistant Cameraman)
Bradley D.P. Hoover is Carolina Film Institute's director and primary film production instructor. He began teaching filmmaking in 1995 at the Seattle Film Institute (SFI), and has a few decades of experience with shooting and directing feature films, shorts, commercials, and industrials. In 2008, he began to teach at Carolina Film Institute when David Shulman opened the location as a sister school to SFI, part of Film Institutes of America. Brad taught Kira Bursky, Tree Hugger's director, in 2010 during a year long, once a week film class at CFI. Since then, Kira and Brad have worked together on a number of film projects. Most recently, Brad served as Kira's cinematographer on her dark comedy short film Demons in Disguise.
Brad's filmmaking journey began in California during high school while helping a close friend by serving as a production assistant on an independent film. While living in Seattle, Washington, he began making music videos and short films as a director and cinematographer. This led to a position as cinematographer on an independent feature film. After completing a few more feature films as cinematographer, he began teaching film production at the Seattle Film Institute, then later moved to Greenville, South Carolina to teach at SFI's sister school, Carolina Film Institute.
Brad has continued to balance a teaching career and film production career, enjoying both teaching the craft to aspiring students and experiencing the industry as a working professional.
Nicolas Martin (Composer)
Nicolas Martin's collaboration with Kira Bursky began in February 2013 when he composed the score for Kira's award-winning film, Girly.
Originally from Rodez (Aveyron, France), Nicolas now lives in Andratx, a small village on the island of Mallorca (Spain), where he built his own recording studio. It is there, surrounded by a network of faithful musicians, that he creates his pieces, either orchestral or minimalist.
The evocative richness of his music draws creative artists from varying visual disciplines including film and animation who have used his compositions in their works. Among the artists he has worked with are:
- Jeremy Clapin, author of the film Shkizein, for whom Nicolas wrote a melancholic score for strings and electronics that won the Leo Award for Best Music at the Festival of Braunschweig 2008 (Germany), and
- Barry Purves, one of the world masters in stop motion animation, for whom he composed a symphonic score for orchestra and choir for the film Plume.
Nicolas has participated on several production music albums for GUM, Cezame Music Agency, Alter K and Encore merci. Many of his tracks can be heard on several documentary and television programs including Des racines et des ailes, Le Grand Tour, Dans mes yeux, and La Grande Expo, to name a few.
Since 2013, Nicolas has partnered with the Barcelona label, SaraoMusic, with whom he has completed two solo albums, String Quartet and Electronics and Miniature Fanfare Orchestra, published by Universal Publishing Production Music.
Nicolas has also composed for:
- the advertising for major organizations including the 2013 European Campaign for Disneyland Paris, French Bank La Caisse d'Epargne, Peugeot, Canal+, and Ajax,
- a number of television programs including the animated series Geronimo Stilton which has been broadcast to over 90 countries,
- the theatre serving as the composer for the French theatre company N et I Ni et Compagnie since 2008; and
- other artists as their arranger-producer.
Nicolas is excited to work once again with Kira on the new film, Tree Hugger!
What Your Contribution Is For
Your contributions will be put towards:
- Paying crew and cast
- Original score
- Set design
- Special effects
- Props, costumes, makeup
- Festival fees
- On set food
Why You Should Contribute
Tree Hugger focuses on the very serious topics of abusive relationships and sexual assault. By supporting this project, you are helping to bring these important issues forward and expanding awareness. Many people; the young, old, female, male - the demographic doesn't matter; accept less than they deserve because they assume there is nothing more in the world for them. My goal with your assistance is to spread the message that no one under any circumstance should ever accept or allow abuse to continue. Love and support are always out there, even if it is hard to find.
Kira's recent film, We're Okay, has been screened by psychological, psychiatric, and mental wellness groups around the country. Following screenings, she has met numerous people of both genders who have informed Kira how important We're Okay is and how it has touched them personally. One young man, after viewing the film, told Kira, "Your film is the first film that ever made me cry. Thank you for making it."
In a similar fashion, Kira wants to bring Tree Hugger to the public to expand awareness, motivate discussions, and, hopefully, help those who find themselves in abusive relationships or have been sexually assaulted.
As a young filmmaker, Kira Bursky continues to strengthen and expand her skillset. Supporting this project will help her to continue to grow as an artist. You can view the recently produced film We're Okay that was made with a $2,000 budget. Imagine what she can do with double that amount.
What You Will Receive in Return
Aside from knowing that you will be an important advocate in helping to spread a critical message through the medium of film, there are rewards you can receive for your contribution.
[Please note that as of December 8, 2014, additional new rewards have been added to various contribution levels. These rewards do not show up on the Rewards sidebar to the right but are listed below. All new and prior contributors will receive these rewards.]
Risks and challenges
Exposure: after a film is made, it is always a struggle to get it out into the world in order to be seen. A portion of the funds raised on Kickstarter will be applied to registering the film for a number of film festivals.
It should be noted, however, that submitting a film to a festival is not a guarantee that it will be accepted and screened for any of the festivals and should be regarded as a risk.
Special Effects: Tree Hugger requires special effects where the evil tree entwines itself around the female lead. Although the special effects can raise challenges, we feel comfortable that this effect will be realized since we have developed and already tested the special effects in pre-production.
The Budget: The funds will be covering a wide range of needs including equipment, original score, set design, special effects, props, costumes, makeup, token payments to the cast and crew, on-set food, and festival fees. Although the budget is tight and we run the risk of going over budget, All Around Artsy has successfully completed a number of film projects with budgets as tight as or even tighter than the budget for Tree Hugger and we feel secure that we will complete the project within budget even if unforeseen circumstances arise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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