Losing Addison, a psychological thriller
Addison “is everything I'm not,” his twin brother Les explains. “Tall, blond, athletic, outgoing.”
Losing Addison is a psychological thriller that came from a nightmare in 2011. Marty woke up from the nightmare early one morning, with every detail fresh in his mind, as though it were dictated to him so specifically and completely that he was able to write and subsequently publish it in novella form just fifteen days later.
We optioned the rights to Marty's nightmare and he adapted it for the screen in 2015. We have since developed the feature, and are ready to begin principal photography on October 16th of this year, 2017.
Losing Addison is a film about human nature, the different sides of every person, and how every human being has a good side, and a bad side. Les, our film's hero, played by Adam Elliott Davis, doesn't believe he has a good side. In fact, he's so apathetic about even the possibility of his value, that he destroys every glimmer of self-worth before it can truly take root and become something great.
By comparison, his fraternal twin brother Addison, played by Joel Robert Walker, is so confident in his strengths and charm, there is simply no possibility of failure—it isn't a word in his vocabulary. He is everything Lester isn't.
We pick up the story after a catastrophic tragedy has occurred, and Les is handcuffed to a hospital bed, suspected of murder. His last memory is of the fight between him and Addison, as Addison argues for Mom's euthanasia. He contends that mom is in pain, and wants to go—it'll be merciful and painless. Les argues that she'll get better, her health will improve like it always does. But, Addison made a promise, and tries to see it through. When Les attempts to stop him, a violent fight breaks out between the brothers. Blackout.
When the doctor interviews him, he describes their childhood, their abusive father and loving mother, and their lives together into adulthood. He tells of the lifelong psychic connection he has had with Addison—a connection which is now broken. The doctor asks questions about the missing Addison, and Les pleads to know his whereabouts. But the doctor can't—or won't—tell him.
But the problem is, Les didn't just lose his brother. He may have also lost himself, and now has to do everything he can to regain those last threads of his own soul.
When Les wakes with the psychic bond between him and his brother severed, the voice silent for the first time in his life, he finds himself a broken half of a man, in a dark, lonely depression. As he struggles to recall the events of the night in question, he spirals into a frenetic hysteria made of loss, loneliness, and the desperate struggle not only to clear his own name, but to be reunited with his twin brother—the only friend and kindred spirit he's had since birth. Without him, Les is left empty and incomplete—an existential lobotomy.
The tone of Losing Addison is intentional and disturbing, with the occasional twisted perspective and distorted view, where Les's solutions aren't born from a rational mind, but fabricated by an aborted psyche scrambling for anomalous fulfillment. The film unfolds as a memory, where totems and details are confused at first, but come together in their own time, and sometimes suddenly, as is typical with the workings of human recollection.
With the themes of loss, depression, and psychosis, we have developed a visual mood that is at times dark and brooding, with lots of blues and grays and earth-tones, and at other times, bright and warm, soft, and pleasing, where we enjoy brief retreats to the comfort and halcyon days of youth.
These moods and themes are handled skillfully by our Director of Photography (DP) Dennis Noack, who has developed a palette and “camera language” unique to our story, designed to convey the psychology of each moment practically, with new and old techniques like Dutch angles, handheld versus dolly shots, and more.
Dennis graduated from USC Film School in 2015, and has a strong and diverse body of camera work and skills, and we're very excited to have him at the helm of our visual department.
Along with impeccable and carefully-implemented visual storytelling, a good film—particularly a thriller—relies heavily on carefully-developed and implemented, stylish sound design. From eerie silences to roaring heartbeats, every detail of the soundscape must be nuanced and precise. In our live sound and post-production audio, we are focusing on sound design that you forget you're listening to that doesn't feel recorded, but rather like you're a passenger in the toppled mind of a troubled man. Every bit of score and sound effect is brought into the reality of the situation in a way that magnifies and conveys the mood of each moment, without reminding you you're listening to music and sound effects. When the image shudders and quakes, the sound design helps you to feel the story viscerally, as though the world itself, even your own mind, is shuddering and shaking with the picture. The psychological influence of music and sound in general are topics that are heavily researched and explored, and we're taking advantage of those effects as our sound designers develop the audible world of Losing Addison.
Another key component of great cinematic storytelling, and perhaps the third pillar of production, is editing. Losing Addison, being a psychological thriller, relies on subtlety and finesse. The edit for this film won't be a simple process of cut and paste, but rather utilize the power of modern digital editing technology to continue the themes established during filming. Modern technology allows for seamless integration of effects like time-lapse or slow motion, creative color grading, overlays and multiple images superimposed, and an unlimited array of more creative choices that may be applied to every image and scene in the film to further establish the themes and tones of the film.
In developing the language of the photography, the language of the sound design, and the language of the edit, we are creating a collaboration between the production and post-production teams, an opportunity for all the departments to come together to create a visually and audibly stunning and appealing audiovisual experience that tells a compelling story, and a finished product that transcends the capability of each individual department.
In a way, this is what Losing Addison is about, a microcosm of the story itself—that only with all of our parts united can we be the best we can be.
If the script is the canvas, the production and post-production crews the brushes, and the director the painter, then the actor is the paint. The actor brings their own life and truth to the role, and fills lifeless shoes with breath, a mind, and a heartbeat. When casting this feature, we needed actors who were capable of not simply regurgitating lines, or wearing a mask and putting on a performance, but of living into their roles, of telling the truth at all costs as though experiencing everything for the first time. The job of an actor is to live in the moment—not to pretend to be a person doing a thing, but to be the person doing the thing, in order for the audience to experience the event themselves, truthfully, viscerally. Our Les needs to be dark and brooding, to have access to hidden places, to be willing to explore the shadows within; he needs to know himself, and be willing to share it with us.
When the script was developed, it was with Adam Elliott Davis in mind. Adam is an award-winning actor known for his willingness to truthfully portray the darker sides of human nature, his powerful stillness, and his quick wit and charm. His ability to descend into dark depths and access the haunted recesses of the spirit and mind make him a natural fit for the role of Les.
In our search for Addison, we needed to find someone larger than life- someone who could be a comedian or a superhero within the space of a breath. He needs to be an Adonis who could sweep you off your feet with a word or a reflex. We asked Joel Walker to take the role after he read for us, proving himself to be as charming as he is a model of athleticism—a musical theater performer with a background and training in multiple dance disciplines. Beyond superficial qualifications, Joel has an eager curiosity and interest in the subject matter and themes of Losing Addison, and in our ongoing development, we're excited to build a deeply nuanced and multifaceted individual who is as ethereal and whimsical as he is broken and human.
At the end of the day, Losing Addison is about brothers. It's about family, and friendship, love, and loss. It's a story about pain, and what happens when something essential is removed from your soul. It's an allegory for the horror of inner conflict, and the struggle to be fully oneself under any circumstances. It is a work of fiction, but we expect to honestly and passionately explore the deeper truths the story is about. With the components we have assembled, and continue to gather and develop, we will tell a story that is not only dark, haunting, and at times disturbing, but also relevant to our place and time in history as a work of art, and a commentary on the themes of the human condition we explore.
We would like to invite you to be a part of this story, and to help us tell the best story possible. With everyone we have involved already, and everyone yet to join our team, we have the highest expectation of creative excellence, and believe that we will rise up together in integrity and accountability to tell a story that will be truly impactful, engaging, and intrinsically valuable from the ground up.
Statement of Intent: The filmmaking process is notoriously a time-consuming and valuable venture that investors and artists the world-over come together in partnership to engage in, and to create art that can be a bought and sold commodity that transcends status, race, religious beliefs, sex, language, and political boundaries. Film is the bridge between every island on the planet. Because of the movies, our heroes can be anyone, and they can come from anywhere, and they can be heroes to the man on the street and the woman in the mansion equally.
When people set out to make a movie, there are two great questions asked at the outset: how much did it cost, and how much will it make? With the question of cost come details like named actors or director attached, location, theme and set pieces (how “cinematic” it will look), etc.
The fact is, actors and directors are expensive if you want them to be household names. Locations can be epic and free, or minimal and exorbitant, or some other balance of cost and value. Other details that factor in are the equipment used, cameras, lights, film (expensive, risky, but beautiful in the right hands) or digital (cheaper, safer, quality ranging from poor to near-film in the right hands), sound gear, post-production and marketing (hiring a colorist or a publicist could be the difference between getting the movie distributed or accepted into festivals, for different but equally important reasons), permits, licenses, fees, rentals, and more.
Understandably, many people have difficulty rationalizing the often vast expense that goes into making a feature film, but if you account for long working hours by even a small cast and crew (including meals on days that can run twelve hours), equipment rental, wear and tear, the value of expertise and experience in any particular area, the investment many of the individual cast and crew have made into their own equipment and training, keeping up with current technology to create the best cinematic experience (often for less money than the prior technology's cost), and even the abstract nature of art itself, those costs begin to become justified, and the extremely high value of even a massive Hollywood tentpole feature begin to make sense.
With the question of projected earnings, it all comes down to who watches the movies. Dramas are often the cheapest movies to make (and thus earn the biggest returns), but are much more difficult to sell, especially without a recognizable name attached. Horror, Sci-Fi, and Action are significantly easier to sell, even without a big name, but with special effects come costs that can quickly inflate a budget beyond most people's expectations.
In addition to types of films and how they sell, where they sell is the other major factor. The majority of films make their greatest profits through DVD and digital sales overseas- due to the population concentrations of certain regions, the general eager love of American cinema, and yes, even a well-made movie. Locally, movies are sold mainly through one or two of a handful of avenues: Video On Demand (VOD)/Streaming, Distribution, DVD sales, and Theatrical release.
Distributors open up unique access to DVD sales and more exclusive markets (including theatrical releases) both at home and abroad, and are generally recognized as offering the greatest potential for income or ROI. Filmmakers have greater chances of simply getting the movie out there by self-distributing through VOD or streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.), but with such a bounty of content, it is essential to make a good film in order to stand out from the rest.
While there is a lot to consider that goes into funding the making and selling of a feature film, every film is different, and presents its own opportunities to do things a little differently- to make the best film possible while mitigating the risk.
Losing Addison is a $100-$150k feature film. This is a shoestring budget for a psychological thriller, and we have taken several measures to ensure that an excellent and entertaining movie is made, despite the budgetary limitations. The first and most obvious is that we aren't using big names for any of the main roles. With a lesser-known director and actors as the leads, we're immediately taking a minimum of $30k and putting it toward the rest of the production.
Our actors are very talented, very experienced, and do have fan-bases of their own, but are simply not Brad Pitt or Jack Nicholson yet. That money saved can be put toward finding an actor with a bigger name for significant but smaller roles- such as the pivotal role of Mom, for example- and spread across a number of other areas where it will do more ultimate good.
Another cost-saving measure we are employing is a fully-digital production. This means we won't be dealing with the time and cost inflation that comes with analog recording and processing. To shoot on film means expensive and time-consuming retakes, extremely costly processing, higher risk of potential catastrophic damage, and long, complicated, and outdated editing practices.
Instead of the glamour of shooting a feature on film, we are opting for a shoot that relies on the latest in digital cinema camera technology, lenses, and techniques. This option ensures that our turnaround time in the editing room is much faster, the risk of damage to footage decreases as the ability to back it up and protect it increases, retakes may be done instantly at no greater cost, etc. In this way, we are protecting investment in the film, by avoiding unnecessary risks in favor of the latest in digital technology. To put it into context, ten minutes of 35mm film costs about $1500 (from purchase to processing- not including editing).
That is $18k (120 minutes, not including unusable film and footage) saved—on the finished movie alone—in favor of under 1k for all of the storage necessary for a feature film shot digitally. It's noteworthy that this cost doesn't include the cost of the film camera equipment. With the expectation that we shoot digitally, we have a collection of network resources, rental houses, and our own gear to round out the needs of the production, and guarantee a top-quality film production at a fraction of what even a minor Hollywood film would cost to make ($2.5m for SAG Low Budget).
Other cost-saving strategies include working with friends and family to provide set location resources, vehicles, catering, etc, where the cost offset will be most beneficial while still retaining value. There will be many situations where, even in the case of a friend's home we are allowed to use for a day or two of the shoot, for example, we offer to “rent” the space to account for normal wear and tear, and inconvenience. While we will take every appropriate measure to keep production costs low, we still must treat our hosts and donors with respect, and do our very best to take good care of them and the relationships.
Another strategy we are utilizing to lower our production costs is the hiring of student interns from the film programs at the local universities and art schools. In doing this, we are able to offer a tangible benefit to working on the production- experience and class credit- while keeping our own staffing costs manageable, and using the balance of that savings in other areas. It is through these and other measures that we are able to keep the production and post-production costs to a minimum, and shoot a psychological thriller- a genre where films normally run into the millions- for a fraction of the cost.
Our distribution goals for this film are fairly simple, compared to the deep logistics of the production budget. Our two-pronged approach is festival submission- which will lead to distributor acquisition and sales upon a successful festival run- and digital distribution—Netflix et al, VOD, and so on—in order to release Losing Addison independently, to begin promoting it and growing its audience via a grassroots social media marketing strategy.
If there is festival and distributor interest, we will delay our independent release until we are given an all-clear to promote our work ourselves, within our networks, friends, and family. While the success of any particular film is impossible to predict, one thing is certain: there is an audience for everything. With the writing, directing, acting, production value, and strategies for our film's release and distribution, it is certain that our film will find its audience, and its success.
With your help we can make an amazing film. We are a team of experienced storytellers and creative professionals, and as a production company, making our first feature film produced fully in-house. You aren't investing in the film... ultimately, you are investing in us! With the successful funding and production of Losing Addison, we will be able to grow and continuously provide compelling stories, well-told, on a consistently greater, more-frequent basis. We hope you'll join us for this journey, and look forward to showing you what we have in store!
Welcome to Losing Addison!
Risks and challenges
With making any film- particularly a feature- come many challenges and obstacles. Some of these obstacles, we've accepted as inevitable- cost of certain production items, and a casual shoot schedule, for example. Other challenges, we've courted willingly; they are opportunities to rise above the status quo, and we are confident we will meet this adversity with grace and excellence.
Some of our more critical assets include our relationships- we have dedicated our efforts to creating strong and long-lasting relationships with everyone we interact with. One result of this is a significant cross-section of our assets consisting of heavily discounted and/or donated items. It is in this and other similar capacities that we are able to overcome many of our obstacles.
One of the obstacles we've invited as an opportunity to rise up and excel beyond expectation is in our condensed shooting schedule. It is very fast production, even for an easy-to-shoot feature film. Despite this challenge, we are committed to bringing on talent to the cast and crew alike that is capable of handling this type of schedule. Everyone on our crew has come highly-recommended, and is not only fully aware of the challenges ahead of us with regards to the schedule, but is eager to meet this challenge fully prepared and equipped to succeed. We have one of many pre-production and pre-visualization meetings on September 21st, for example, and we are taking this and every opportunity to really have every detail squared away come production.
Another obstacle we meet eagerly, with confidence in our capacity to handle, is the fact that this film is being helmed by a first-time director. The solution to this seemingly daunting conflict is that Marty- the director- will be closely assisted by Adam, the lead performer and Portland-based acting coach, in the event Marty requires assistance, guidance, or moral support. We are certain that this partnership will eliminate any difficulties that could arise in any new director's process. Additionally, since Adam himself is a veteran performer, as is Joel- who plays Addison- between the two off them, the rapport and confidence assembled will ensure a smoother filming process than if the two lead actors- who share the significant burden of screen time- had less experience, or a less close relationship with each other and with their director.
• anyone receiving a perk that includes extra or featured-extra roles may not necessarily be in the final cut of the film- this is beyond our control, as the storytelling is the primary concern.
• anyone visiting our set will have to make their own travel arrangements. We will be shooting in the Portland Metropolitan area in Oregon. We'll keep everyone eligible posted.
• If you become an extra you must be a US citizen or have a US work visa, and not be a member of SAG/AFTRA.
• You must be over 18 or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to attend the premiere or visit the set. Extras must also be over 18.
• Set visitation days are set at Producers' discretion
• Some rewards may require additional paperwork. If you are appearing in the film, you will have to sign a release, etc.
• "Mom's Cookies" are homemade by Kelly Sina, New York-trained pastry chef, and actress in the role of Sarah Jane McCubbin (young)
That's all there is to it! Thank you for reading this far, for your support, and for keeping up with Losing Addison!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (27 days)