WE DID IT!!
Thank you to everyone who backed us! We won't let you down! Now let's make a movie!!
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Tom, Brian & Michael-
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
Movies are getting bigger and more expensive, but they’re not getting any better, they’re getting worse. Studios have abandoned the art and the idea of saying something important that lasts. These movies are forgettable, often soulless, and that’s sad to us.
That’s why when we sat down to write a screenplay for a film called Fire City, we sculpted something personal and meaningful to us. We both have daughters and the heart of the story was about protecting them, protecting their innocence, about the sacrifices you make to do so. As fathers, we’re forced to confront our worst fears and stare into the face of evil. As creators, we were compelled to explore that fear, to try to understand that evil, the very nature of evil itself. Suffice to say, we tried to face our demons. Just so happened that some of those demons had massive wings, giant curled horns and putrid breath.
We pooled together our money and filmed test footage for Fire City. Miraculously, the studios and others got wind of our footage. But they didn’t want the creators, they wanted the rights. They made us small offers for them to own the world, to put it through their machine to make yet another soulless, forgettable film. We felt we owed it to ourselves to say no to those offers and to try to make it ourselves. So that’s why we’re here, asking you to help us (Brian & Michael) make a great film, something that will make our families proud and make other families want to go see it.
THE STORY OF DEMONS
The Interpreter Of Signs is the first feature film of the 4-film franchise. It is a demon fantasy thriller set against the noir backdrop of Fire City, a shadowy atmospheric world, where demons live among humans who can’t see them for what they are. This first film asks, when you embody evil incarnate, and give it not just a face, but many faces, a society, a history, mundane jobs and worldly humdrum routine to go along with its otherworldly attributes, how does it behave? Does it run amok or does it find equilibrium and settle into the slow burn of day-to-day existence? And if the latter, what happens when this equilibrium is suddenly destroyed?
Our story follows Atum Vine, a 700-year-old demon, who looks just shy of 30, with a bad attitude and an 8-foot wingspan. To the humans who live unknowingly among demons in a beat-up tenement building, Vine is the drug dealer at the end of the hall. But to the demons on the floor, Vine is a procurer of human misery, which demons need to survive.
While it is true that some demons misbehave, most of them abide by the Balance, a kind of unwritten rule that’s been around since the beginning of time: feed off human misery, don’t cause it. Humans are capable of creating plenty of misery on their own.
The humans on Vine’s floor are average, which is to say, selfish, abusive, deceitful, and mean-spirited. The demons on the other hand are moderate and cautious. Mostly. They just want their fair share. And they pay Vine to get it for them. The way Vine sees it, just because he’s evil incarnate doesn’t mean he’s not a positive force in the grand scheme of things. He’s a regulator, if you will, perpetuating suffering but not letting it get out of hand. If it weren’t for him, there would be dead junkies everywhere, and that’s no good for anybody.
Between the humans living in the apartments around them and the parade of suffering drug-users marching nightly down the hall to Vine’s doorstep, life for the demons on the floor is about as good as it gets. Until…
Vine’s steady flow of clientele shuts off like a faucet. And the humans in the building suddenly reform their despicable ways. The alcoholic mother stops drinking. The wife-beater stops beating. The skeevy mother’s boyfriend becomes a model father figure. The Balance is broken, and Vine and the demons around him begin to starve.
Vine consults Cornelia, an interpreter of signs, fortune teller in the demon world and guardian of the Balance. Cornelia reasons it is a curse. Vine believes it is a vendetta against him by a drug lord named Tarqus, a giant molluck demon with four black eyes and curling horns, who runs drugs out of a demon nightclub.
Vine heads to the nightclub and, after a standoff, discovers that Tarqus not only isn’t the culprit, but that Tarqus and his gang are starving too. Ironically, Tarqus believes it is Vine who is at fault.
Cornelia consults an oracle and discovers that the source of the curse is in the building itself. One of the demons on the floor has betrayed them. Vine goes toe-to-toe with the demons he once thought of as brethren, but each clue is false, every lead is a dead end, and his best suspect ends up starving horribly to death.
The other demons are demoralized. One even tries to attack a human, but it is no use. The victim’s smile never fades, the wounds heal instantly, happiness abounds, as if the attack never happened.
It is then that they confirm demons are starving everywhere. The phenomenon is spreading. And Vine begins to doubt. Perhaps it is not a curse, but this is how things are meant to be. It is Demonkind that is the curse, and the world has devised a way to cure itself.
Cornelia rejects this line of reasoning. A human without suffering is as unnatural as a demon with a conscience. Determined to restore Balance to the world, Cornelia consults a special oracle, and claims the Balance can be restored by killing Sara, the 11-year-old girl who lives down the hall and who trusts Vine. It must be Vine who kills her. Such a betrayal perpetrated on such an innocent human will break the spell the humans are under. Cornelia has foreseen it.
Faced with killing the only innocent human he’s ever known, Vine interprets the signs on his own and makes a decision no demon has ever made. Somehow, in the dark recesses of his black soul, a tiny spark of light emerges. Vine rejects his own nature and fights against his own kind in order to save Sara. Bloodied and battered, he wins the day. He realizes it was evolution after all, and even he has evolved, if only to author his own extinction.
But evolution is a painful process. And once Sara is safe and the demons in the building are vanquished, Vine discovers he has been betrayed by the most unlikely character of all. He was a pawn the entire time in a larger plan, one that threatens every living thing on earth, human and demon alike.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
We’ve been at this for almost three years. Some of our favorite moments with some of our favorite people.
We’ve put together what we think are attractive, valuable prizes for backers at all levels of the Fibonacci sequence. They include everything from t-shirts and DVDs to our comic book (signed by the artist and team) to original limited edition artwork (with letters of authenticity) to a role in the film. We’d love to hear what YOU want, so please message us if you’d like to see something additional.
With a punk rock older sister, Brian Lubocki was exposed at a very young age to mohawks, Bauhaus and horror movies. His writing reflects this aesthetic. Brian and his writing partner were the first writers to simultaneously win both of Creative Screenwriting Magazine’s TV competitions in 2007, was in the top 5% in the Warner Brothers Fellowship, and also semi-finaled in the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship. Brian had the opportunity to write on spec for Twisted Pictures (known for the Saw franchise), though nothing was produced as a result. Brian edited the book Encyclopaedia of Hell, published by Feral House, 2011. Brian has worked in all facets of TV and film production, including assisting the writer's room and on-set for the hit TV series Frasier, AD’ing for Cinemax, location scouting for MTV, and art department for notable horror director, Kevin Tenney. Brian lives in Woodland Hills with his wife and two small children and is in his fifth year of terrorizing the neighbors with his animated Halloween decorations.
Michael Hayes grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland, and made a short film when he was 12 using his grandfather’s hand-crank Kodak Zoom 8 Reflex as his camera and his little sister and her friends as actors. Since then, his love of film has deepened even as his range of interests has broadened. Hayes started drumming in high school and later received a Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has played in bands ranging from dinner jazz to techno grunge to a Led Zeppelin cover band, but gave up music for family life after the birth of his first daughter. Restless for a creative outlet, he began writing and graduated with an MFA from Brown University in 2002, winning the John Hawkes Award for Fiction in that same year. After publishing a few short stories in literary journals, Hayes decided to combine his two passions and brought his family to Los Angeles in 2005 and began screenwriting in earnest, placing in competitions, and finaling in the 2010 Page Awards. In 2008, he wrote, produced and directed a short film, entitled The Night Grift, which premiered at the Vine Shorts Fest in Santa Monica. Hayes continues to strive to create, grow, and feed his passion for story and film with humility, confidence and an iron will to make something out of nothing.
ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING Creature Designer, Tom Woodruff Jr., brings 20-plus years of experience and dozens of big-budget studio projects under his belt, as well as his creature effects house, Amalgamated Dynamics Inc with partner Alec Gillis. ADI’s movies include the X-Men: First Class, Wolverine, Spiderman, Alien 3, Alien versus Predator, and most recently Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.
After years working under Stan Winston, the godfather of special effects, known for everything from Aliens to Terminator to Avatar, Tom Woodruff Jr. partnered with Alec Gillis to create Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. in the late 1980’s.Their first film was Tremors, followed by David Fincher’s sequel, Alien 3. ADI quickly grew to become one of the major character effects companies in the business today, with their work gathering numerous accolades and awards including an Academy Award for Death Becomes Her and multiple Academy Award nominations for Starship Troopers and Alien 3.
Tom also played the demon “Rufus” in the January 2011 footage of Fire City: A Demon In The Darkness, and is looking forward to helming its prequel, The Interpreter Of Signs.
Featured in the 2010 edition of “Generation Next” in the Cinematography trade magazine, ICG, Rob is described as one of the talents to watch under the age of 35. Rob’s films have been the official selection at Tribeca Film Festival (2008 & 2009) and received honorable mention at Sundance (2004 & 2008). Last year, Rob had films at both Sundance and Cannes.
A seasoned Producer, Line Producer, and UPM, Mr. Murphy has a long resume of both studio and independent movies, including as UPM on Enough with Jennifer Lopez and as co-producer & UPM on Powder with Mary Steenburgen and Jeff Goldblum; he also worked on horror cult classics, including as co-producer on Joss Whedon'sBuffy The Vampire Slayer with Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland and Hilary Swank, and as Executive in Charge of Production on Re-Animator. In television, Mr. Murphy produced ABC’s horror-based drama The Gates, was UPM & Associate Producer on the horror classic HBO’s Tales From The Crypt, and Line Producer on FX's current hit show, The Bridge.
With dozens of commercial shoots under his belt, Dayne is a genius at executing dark horror design on time and on budget. Dayne was responsible for the gritty dark look of the hallway and rooms in the 2011 Fire City: A Demon In The Darkness promotional footage.
Chris brings over 15 years of experience to feature film sound design, supervision, and mixing. With 60-plus feature film credits to his name, including titles like The Expendables 1 and 2, Lawless, and The Matrix Reloaded, he offers a creative intuition and distinction uniquely tailored to each filmmaker’s artistic vision. Outside the world of big-budget productions, Chris contributes sound design to many successful independent and foreign films including titles like the past Cannes Palme d’Or winner, Gomorrah. In addition to Cannes, his work can be heard on films showcased at festivals including Toronto, Sundance, South by Southwest, and Tribeca, among many others. Chris is also credited with a Japanese Academy Award nomination for his work overseas. Creating soundtracks for these films develops a unique sensibility and technique, and allows true freedom of expression that is not always possible in the traditional Hollywood studio system. For this very reason, alongside the honor and privilege of working with some of the industry’s most talented artists and storytellers, Chris is a huge advocate of collaborating with first time filmmakers. Moreover, he is no stranger to the dark and supernatural film world with over 20 credits attributed to that genre. For Chris, not only does sound design complement the visual aspect of a motion picture, but it proves to be its own character – it has its own role and voice. Through this, sound supplies a major component in how the story unfolds, its tone and atmosphere, and how the audience relates to the world of the film.
WHERE'S THE MONEY GOING?
On screen. It's people working for the love of the project. $100,000 will cover basic materials and rentals, plus minimum wage for most of our crew. About 70% will go to production and 30% to post-production. The budget pays for costumes, cameras and meals for the crew during their 12+ hour days.
With more funding, we'll have more and better demons, including full creature suits rather than make-up prosthetics, wire work so that some demons can fly like they were made to, more stunts to see the demons fight. Better costumes, more locations, more demons! We'll use better materials and shoot more days! Whatever budget we have, we’ll make it look like 10 TIMES its value! We'll be able to get out of post production faster and get the film (and prizes) to you faster. .
Risks and challenges
We do not have a distributor attached, though we have relationships with sales agents waiting to take a look at the finished feature film. Distributors (like Studios who finance films) often rely on pre-sales which require, for instance, certain actors that hold certain value in certain territories. No offense to The Hoff, but we won’t be making his movie We plan to bring a distributor on AFTER we finish the film.
We will work hard to ensure rewards are delivered safely and on schedule to our backers. Many elements of the rewards will be fulfilled well before October of 2014, which is when we hope to release the film and have all of our premieres and screenings.
THE FINE PRINT (for your protection and clarity, and ours)
• For those of you visiting our set, we anticipate shooting in January in Los Angeles. However, this has the potential to change. We will keep you updated so you can plan ahead to visit us.
• If you become an extra, a demon or receive a cast credit, you must be a U.S. citizen or have a U.S. work visa, and not be a member of SAG/AFTRA.
• You must be over 18 or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian (who will NOT count as your plus one) to attend the premiere or visit the set. Extras must also be over 18.
• Some rewards may require additional paperwork. If you are appearing in the film, you will have to sign a release.
• Travel, lodging and transportation to events and set visits not included in any reward bundle, except for the $10,000-Level contributors within the Continental United States.
• This fundraising campaign is all subject to applicable Kickstarter rules/regulations, movie guild rules and applicable law. If any of this conflict, we will work with you in good faith to give you a substitute reward.
• Shipping is FREE within the United States and $25 to ship internationally, for all reward levels that include shipping.
• Film making is subject to a certain level of risk. Production is a live event and things often do not go exactly as planned. But we have a dynamic team that can think on the fly and roll with the punches.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)