Some time ago, my sister Darcy and I began writing a script together. Darcy is a registered nurse who specializes in neo-natal care and was inspired by the often touching stories of the young women she had aided in delivery. Over time, that script became The Land of the Dead.
In our film, April, a young pregnant girl, has always been told she was the result of a summer-long fling her mom had when she hitchhiked across the West with a wanderer named Ernest, a man she claims has disappeared from their lives without a trace. But recently, unbeknownst to her mom, April's tracked him down. One night, feeling stifled at home, she sneaks away to find out the truth about her father for herself. After a long drive she arrives at the remote desert town where he lives, full of expectations. Though like most things, it doesn't unfold as she had planned, but the experience will change her life forever.
The title of our film references a traditional Serrano Native American narrative I came across early in my research - the story of a man's attempt to follow his deceased wife into the land of the dead. Though dissimilar in specifics, both protagonists experience similar realizations on their respective journeys of resurrection.
This story has developed a life of its own and now affects me in surprising ways. I recall the same feelings April has when she's first out on the road, on an adventure all her own, seeing the world in a new light. April's need to learn her family history has raised questions of my own about how we identify ourselves through our family, the familial traits we choose to embrace or reject and how our understanding of family changes over time. It's my hope that film-goers will find The Land of the Dead as evocative as I do.
-Sarah Morton, Director, Co-writer
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP:
The Land of the Dead is an independent film, which means it's being made entirely without support or funding from a studio. So we're depending completely on your help to make it happen.
Though everyone involved with this project is doing it "for the love," like many of you we are working artists and your donations will go directly to supporting the many talented people involved in making it. This means everything from giving our Cinematographer the best possible tools to realize his vision for the film to making sure our crew is well fed (a film crew, like an army, marches on its stomach).
But more than that, and we can't say it enough, this project begins and ends with your support. It simply does not exist without it.
WHO WE ARE:
Director, Sarah Morton
After graduating from UCA, Sarah Morton got her start in the film industry in New York City, working for Mira Nair and her company Mirabai Films. She spent the next several years as a camera assistant on various film productions, including national commercials, music videos and award winning feature films such as Red Doors and Darkon. Recently, she was the Director of Photography for the urban sprawl documentary, Country Mice and City Mice, directed by Alex Hanawalt. She completed her first short film Walking in the Blue in 2010, and is thrilled to be gearing up The Land of the Dead.
Producer, Nathan Gulick
Nathan Gulick has been Producing and Directing independent and sometimes experimental films and music videos since his graduation from New York’s School of Visual Arts in 2003. Since then, his work has been exhibited in venues such as the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, The California Center for the Arts and broadcast on the underground music show New York Noise and Britain’s SKY TV.
Recently he has served as cinematographer and co producer for the independent feature documentary in progress Comics Are Everywhere! directed by Neil Kendricks - an exploration of the wild world of alternative comics and the dedication it takes to make it in the Arts.
The Land of the Dead marks his return to narrative film.
Director of Photography, Zeus Morand
Born and raised in New York City, Zeus Morand has been working in the film business for 15 years. Prior to becoming a cinematographer, Zeus cut his teeth as a highly renowned gaffer working for the Who’s Who of commercial DP’s. It was then that Zeus first developed a reputation for bold lighting styles produced quickly, and in any environment. Today, Zeus is known for his bold and dark, highly emotional imagery. He has DP’d award winning feature films such as Red Doors, La Soga and Forged. Zeus lives with his wife Toby and daughter Bella in New York City.
Co-Writer, Darcy Muñoz
After graduating from high school, Darcy Muñoz decided to spend a year in Tijuana, Mexico helping to build houses while also learning to speak spanish more fluently. She later attended the University of Arkansas, and graduated with a B.S. in Nurse Science and a B.A. in Spanish in 2006. When she's not caring for pregnant women and new born babies as a registered nurse, she enjoys blogging, making art and taking French classes. In 2010 she starred in Sarah Morton's short film, Walking in the Blue. Currently, Darcy is pleased as punch to be working with her sister again, this time as a co-writer on the short, The Land of the Dead, which is her first screenplay.
Composer, Andy Hentz
Andy Hentz is a composer based in Los Angeles. He's written music for Adult Swim's Kitten Vs. Newborn, the SXSW award-winning website How Do I Say This?, a healthy handful of short films and the soundtrack to at least one feature length homage to 1980's swords and sorcery adventure films.
Mark X Farina
We're grateful to have such talented artists contribute their time and works to the film.
To give you an idea of where the money will go and the costs of making even a small film, here is a brief Budget Breakdown:
Insurance - $1,000
Can't leave home without it.
Actors - $1,200
Our actors carry the movie. Full stop. It's crucial to take care of them and pay them for their time.
Camera, Grip and Electric, and Sound Equipment - $2,200
We're very fortunate to have a great friend who is donating a RED EPIC Camera Package (the same one used to shoot a film you might have seen in the theater recently), otherwise this number would be much higher. However, it's still very expensive to rent lights and other equipment for the production and pay our Gaffer and Key Grip, the crew responsible for the lighting and film equipment (you want to keep those guys happy).
Art Department - $1,200
This includes all of the props and furniture that we'll need to dress our sets, as well as a the fee to pay the Art Director. Art direction can make or break a film and says volumes about the story. Think about what your home says about you, the places where the characters live have to speak for them as well.
Locations - $850
Again, each location is important and is part of the character. You have to get it right.
Costumes - $500
We're working with a great costumer to get the right look for each of our characters. What you see each character wearing is the first way you'll learn something about them.
Food - $1,200
Not only is our composer talented at cooking up notes and tones, he's great with food as well! He'll be preparing delicious homemade meals each day for our crew.
Transportation - $800
Have you seen how much gas is lately?
The money we raise here is the bare minimum required to produce the movie and get it "in the can". If we are fortunate to raise more the $9500, it will go directly to the costs of marketing and distributing the film, which is a big job on it's own. Once the film is ready, we'll be submitting to film festivals all over the U.S. and to festivals over seas as well. We'll also be hitting the road to show it in small venues where we can, so get ready to see it in your home town!
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts if you've contributed to this project, and regardless, we thank you for your interest in our project. We can't wait to show our film once it's complete!
Sarah & Nathan
- (25 days)