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$4,428 pledged of $12,000 goal
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By Michael Kriegsman
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About this project

BEING DIFFERENT IS ONLY HUMAN

“One of Us” is a graphic novel series that reimagines the making of the most controversial studio motion picture ever made: Tod Browning’s “Freaks” (1932). This campaign is for Issue #1 of 4, a high quality, full-color 28-page paperback publication (7" x 10.5") that will transport readers onto the set of “Freaks” to experience the studio rebellions and on-the-set infighting that nearly killed the production – and the unlikely romance that kept the picture alive. 

Above all, “One of Us” carries a compassionate message of tolerance and acceptance for all ages: “Being Different is Only Human.”

WRITER MICHAEL KRIEGSMAN SPEAKS FRANKLY ABOUT WHAT LED HIM TO WRITE "ONE OF US"

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“One of Us” is the story of an aimless and jaded young man who is lured to MGM by ruthless estudio boss Louis B. Mayer to shut down the production of “Freaks” – by any means necessary. But when a strange turn of events puts the young man in charge of Schlitze the pinhead, our hero discovers that being different is only human and takes a stand against Mayer to ensure that “Freaks” – a picture that portrays the human side of the sideshow characters – sees the light of day.

Due to a lifelong illness that has always made him feel ‘different,’ “One of Us” is the most personal thing author Michael Kriegsman has ever done. He’s thrilled to share it with other “Freaks” fans and anybody who has ever felt like an outcast or an outsider. This story is for you.


COVER BY BILL NELSON

We are excited to show some of our in-progress artwork, beginning with this cover illustration by famed artist Bill Nelson. Bill will be illustrating the covers for all four issues in the series. We wanted to start with the most-recognized character in the movie, “Schlitze the Pinhead.” Bill has portrayed the lovable Schlitze as an aging, sweet and simple man with one of his favorite toys, a colorful pinwheel. Check out Bill’s sketch process which has led to a beautiful, dramatic cover as a result.

Here is Bill Nelson’s cover art in progress…
Here is Bill Nelson’s cover art in progress…

NEW!!! DOWNLOAD THE SAMPLE SCRIPT PAGES FROM “THE WEDDING FEAST” AS IT WILL APPEAR IN “ONE OF US” — THE GRAPHIC NOVEL! 

This sample 5-page script reimagines what went on during the production of the iconic Wedding Feast scene from Tod Browning’s “Freaks”!

Here, you’ll find Schlitze, Olga Baclanova, Harry Earles, Angelo Rossitto and the rest of the actors that you know and love, plus Tod Browning, his crew AND Browning’s real-life arch enemy Basil Wrangell, the man responsible for editing “Freaks”and nearly lost his mind doing it! 

You’ll also meet Ted, our hero-to-be, who has been placed on the set of “Freaks” by ruthless studio boss Louis B. Mayer to shut the picture down — by any mean necessary,  

Have fun reading this scene filled with love, pathos, humor — and a little something having to do with a ticked-off Angelo, a powdered donut and a false set o’ teeth!

Look below the download to see early draft art from this scene.

Click to download a 5-page PDF sample of the Graphic Novel script!
Click to download a 5-page PDF sample of the Graphic Novel script!

EARLY DRAFT OF INTERIOR PAGE

In addition to the cover art, we have an early sample page (sans colorization) for one of the scenes in the graphic novel. This is an early draft and does not yet have the characters’ dialogue, final character designs, or color art. If you click on the image below you may download a [high-res PDF – 2.3 MB] where it is easier to read the temporary text and see the draft images from the scene.

This is an early, uncolored draft of a scene from “One of Us” [click for PDF – 2.3 MB]
This is an early, uncolored draft of a scene from “One of Us” [click for PDF – 2.3 MB]

Also check out the character sketches from Gerry Kissell shown in “The Creators” section below. Plus, more pages will be revealed during the campaign itself, with some of them being close to final form as the campaign rolls out!

Stay tuned for lots more art, rare “Freaks” images, stories, archival facts & finds, and much more. You can also catch updates on MakingFreaks.com, as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages for lots more information and fun!

MICHAEL KRIEGSMAN

Michael Kriegsman became a “Freaks” fanatic at age three when he discovered it during sneak peeks at his older sibling’s issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Today, Kriegsman is an award-winning director, producer and writer based in Los Angeles and his obsession with “Freaks” is alive and well. Michael won an Oscar® for Best Student Documentary from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. He's written and produced movie trailers, TV spots, and more for The Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple, The DaVinci Code, The X-Files, Family Guy, 2012, 21 Jump Street, Despicable Me, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Fast & Furious 5, Ice Age, It's Complicated, Men in Black 3, Napoleon Dynamite, Pineapple Express, Spider Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean, and hundreds more. For more on Michael visit: MakingFreaks.com

These are a few of the films that Michael Kriegsman created the trailers for
These are a few of the films that Michael Kriegsman created the trailers for

BILL NELSON

An internationally known artist and sculptor, Bill’s award-winning illustrations have graced the covers of The New Yorker, Newsweek (10 covers!) and Time, to name but a few, but legions of classic horror movie fans young and old can instantly spot “a Bill Nelson” by the eye-popping portraits he’s been creating for major monster magazine publications and books for more than four decades. You can learn more about Bill and see some of his amazing eye candy at: BillNelsonStudios.com

Here’s a sneak peek at some of Bill Nelson’s amazing portfolio!
Here’s a sneak peek at some of Bill Nelson’s amazing portfolio!

GERRY KISSELL

A comic book artist best known for his work on IDW Publishing’s graphic novel “Code Word: Geronimo,” on which he served as creator and artist, Gerry has been hailed as “an art making machine” by his contemporaries. A former U.S. Army combat medic, Gerry focused most of his career on drawing military-themed projects, including book covers for best selling author Dale Dye. With Dale and Julia Dye as writers, Gerry’s graphic novel “Code Word: Geronimo” has been covered by major news agencies and reached #22 on the Diamond Comics Top 100 Graphic Novels List in 2011. Visit GerryKissell.com for more about this explosively creative artist.

DARREN DAVIS

As a kid, Darren Davis was hooked on comic books. As an adult, not much has changed. He’s still hooked, but after cutting his teeth at DC Comics he launched his own company, BlueWater Productions, which has hundreds of titles to its name from writers like William Shatner, Ray Harryhausen and Roger Corman. Bluewater is fast becoming a publishing force to be reckoned with while fulfilling Davis’ dream of creating the comics for the next generation of enthusiasts. You’ll find Darren at: BlueWaterProd.com

Meet our production partner — BlueWater Productions
Meet our production partner — BlueWater Productions

SPECIAL MUSICAL THANKS – MAIN PROJECT VIDEO 

Moment of Truth Overture & Underture
Written by Louis Clark

Used with Permission

“Hello”
Written by Eric Troyer
Eric Troyer - Piano
Parthenon Huxley - Bass
Gordon Townsend - Drums
Dave Shapiro - Guitars

Used with Permission

With each of our fabulous rewards you will get a KICKSTARTER COLLECTOR’S EDITION of ISSUE #1: A high-quality printing of “ONE OF US: The Making of Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ – Reimagined,” with your name included on the “special thanks” page (with the exception of the $1 pledge level).

This printing will be on high-quality heavy white paper with a cover-weight glossy stock. If the series goes into wide-release sometime after the Kickstarter campaign, it will be printed on light-weight “comic” style paper stock; so Kickstarter will be the only place where you can get this “COLLECTOR’S EDITION” of the book.

Take a look at some of the pledge rewards offered here!

  • $1 “THANK YOU!” — Downloadable PDF of a 5-page sample draft from Issue #1.
  • $12 EARLY BIRD — You will be one of only 500 backers to get the book, with your name included on the “special thanks” page, one month early and at this limited “EARLY BIRD” pledge level!
  • $17 ONE OF US — Once we reach 500 backers, you can still get the book, with your name included on the “special thanks” page, at a great pledge level to help support the project…
  • $75 SIGNED EDITION — At this level your book will be signed by Michael Kriegsman and famed artist Bill Nelson, your name will be included on the “special thanks” page, and you will get a print reproduction of a rare final “Freaks” shooting script (limited to 200).
  • $150 ART PRINT — In addition to getting the signed book and other perks, you will get a limited edition archival art print signed by artist Bill Nelson, your name will be included on the “special thanks” page, and you will get a print reproduction of a rare final “Freaks” shooting script (limited to 150).
  • $500 CHARACTER — At this level you will get to become a supporting character in Issue #1, your name will be included on the “special thanks” page, and you will get a print reproduction of a rare final “Freaks” shooting script, as well as all the other perks (just TEN slots).
  • $1000 SIDESHOW — There are only FIVE slots for these small speaking roles written right into Issue #1. You will work with the creators to become one of the sideshow legends that Tod Browning considered for the film but did not cast; plus your name will be included on the “special thanks” page, and you will get a print reproduction of a rare final “Freaks” shooting script, as well as all the other perks! 

HURRY! HURRY! STEP RIGHT UP!! Check out these *AMAZING* on-the-set shots from “Freaks” and a RARE CANDID photo of Schlitze the Pinhead on the midway twenty years after the release of the movie that made him an international icon!

These never-before-published stills come to us through the generosity of a private collector. Once our very LIMITED INVENTORY is exhausted, they’ll be gone for good.

ADD-ON ANY OF THESE PRINTS TO YOUR PLEDGE (AT ANY PLEDGE LEVEL) AND HELP THE CAMPAIGN AT THE SAME TIME!!

Choose any of the beautiful glossy digital photo prints from below and add the amount(s) to your pledge. At the end of the campaign you will get a survey asking you which print(s) you have ordered. The additional print(s) you’ve ordered will be added to your pledge reward package and shipped to you at no extra shipping charge. 

NOTE: THE "WWW.MAKINGFREAKS.COM" WATERMARKS YOU SEE ON THESE SAMPLES WILL NOT BE ON YOUR PRINTS!   :) 

$30 ADD-ON: A STUNNING 8x10 glossy digital photo print of the great Prince Randian practicing his big scene before the take.
$30 ADD-ON: A STUNNING 8x10 glossy digital photo print of the great Prince Randian practicing his big scene before the take.
$20 ADD-ON: A GORGEOUS look into Cleo's wagon, shot just before the production of the doctor's visit scene. In this 8x10 glossy digital photo print you'll see details you've not seen before.
$20 ADD-ON: A GORGEOUS look into Cleo's wagon, shot just before the production of the doctor's visit scene. In this 8x10 glossy digital photo print you'll see details you've not seen before.
$15 ADD-ON: A RARE look at Schlitze on the midway circa 1952 in this candid 5x7 glossy digital photo print! We look at Schlitze's face and can't help but wonder what he was thinking.
$15 ADD-ON: A RARE look at Schlitze on the midway circa 1952 in this candid 5x7 glossy digital photo print! We look at Schlitze's face and can't help but wonder what he was thinking.

We will be excited to offer unbeatable Stretch Goals and additional Add-Ons as the campaign rolls out! Please check back often, and look for our updates as we announce each goal that we unlock.

SOME COPY WRITING ABOUT COPYRIGHTS

Perhaps the biggest misnomer about “Freaks” is its copyright status. We can tell you for a fact that “Freaks” is NOT in the Public Domain. In fact it has TWO copyright numbers from the United States Copyright Office: V3492D284 and V3492D201. What can we say, the movie is just THAT good.  ;)

“One of Us” is based on intensive research from script archives, production stills, newspaper articles, personal interviews and many other sources. It’s a “what-if” story revolving around a complex, twisted web of controversy, intrigue, and fits-and-starts that eventually saw the film’s release. Because it’s a “reimagining” based on history and rights-free materials, we’ve vetted and legally-confirmed our Copyrighted use as new material. Production stills, promotional trailers, and other publicly-available materials used in our campaign and the design of the Graphic Novel are being used in the way they are allowed by Copyright law.

If you’re still awake after reading this disclaimer, we thank you!  :)

And one more thing…

“One of Us” is Copyright © 2015 One of Us Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved. Just sayin’.

Risks and challenges

All creative projects have risks, but “One of Us” is a straightforward project that reimagines Tod Browning’s Freaks – a classic movie with a built-in worldwide fan base in the tens of millions. Add to that, our creative team is made up of handpicked seasoned professionals, each with a passion for Browning’s film and for “One of Us,” itself.

Creative and logistical problems could keep a team from delivering a book like this – but we have both issues covered.

1. Creative issues. “One of Us” is written and the art is underway. All that remains is putting the book together. Even if Michael Kriegsman walks down the street and a safe drops on his head, this team could carry the project to completion without missing beat. Also, Michael is, for the most part, sedentary.

2. Logistical issues. Michael is a multi-project multi-tasker, having coordinated, written and produced major motion picture and TV spot campaigns – often simultaneously – for more than 20 years. If you drop the ball in that business you don’t last that long. Some call Kriegsman “anal.” Most everyone that’s worked with him calls him a “huge pain in the ass.”

Michael and his team have designed the project so that it’s fully manageable with no major unknowns. There are always surprises, but we’ve incorporated flex time into our schedule so that we don’t promise more than we can deliver.

We are all professionals with reputations riding on this project, so we will stick with it even if the going gets tough. Plus, we don’t want “One of Us” to be a failed footnote in “Freaks” history.

We are supremely confident that we can get “One of Us” printed and into the hands of our supporters in a timely manner, and at a quality level that we ourselves would expect for a book about one of the most compelling and compassionate motion pictures ever made.

Thank you!

Michael Kriegsman and the “One of Us” Creative Team

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    OUR THANK YOU: Just for pledging a dollar to support our campaign we will give you an EARLY SNEAK PEEK at a 5-page sample draft from Issue #1 (as a PDF download) while the campaign is still running!

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    EARLY BIRD of KICKSTARTER COLLECTOR’S EDITION – ISSUE #1: High-quality printing of “ONE OF US: The Making of Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ – Reimagined,” with your name included on the “special thanks” page. This is the EARLY BIRD of Issue #1, shipped one month early, and limited to the first 500 backers.

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    SPECIAL KICKSTARTER COLLECTOR’S EDITION – ISSUE #1: High-quality printing of “ONE OF US: The Making of Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ – Reimagined,” with your name included on the “special thanks” page!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    EXCLUSIVE SIGNED EDITION – ISSUE #1: This first edition is a high-quality printing of “ONE OF US: The Making of Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ – Reimagined,” signed by both the writer, Michael Kriegsman, and famed illustrator, Bill Nelson, with your name included on the “special thanks” page; PLUS a print reproduction of a rare, rediscovered final “Freaks” shooting script the way the film was originally intended (with about 20 minutes added); and all this shipped one month early to your door.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    LIMITED EDITION ARCHIVAL ART PRINT of “Freaks” character art, printed on 100% cotton rag paper, numbered & signed by famed artist Bill Nelson (there will only ever be 200 in this print edition, and 150 made available in this reward level); PLUS you will get an EXCLUSIVE SIGNED EDITION – ISSUE #1: This first edition is a high-quality printing of “ONE OF US: The Making of Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ – Reimagined,” signed by Michael Kriegsman and Bill Nelson, with your name included on the “special thanks” page; PLUS a print reproduction of a rare final “Freaks” shooting script; AND everything shipped one month early.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    YOU AS A SUPPORTING CHARACTER: You will be one of only TEN lucky people to forge a role in history as a supporting character, custom-illustrated based on your likeness and written right into Issue #1 of “ONE OF US.” PLUS you will get a LIMITED EDITION ARCHIVAL ART PRINT of “Freaks” character art on 100% cotton rag paper, numbered & signed by famed artist Bill Nelson; PLUS you will get an EXCLUSIVE SIGNED EDITION – ISSUE #1: A high-quality first edition of “ONE OF US: The Making of Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ – Reimagined,” signed by Michael Kriegsman and Bill Nelson, with your name included on the “special thanks” page; PLUS a print reproduction of a rare final “Freaks” shooting script; AND everything shipped one month early anywhere in the world at no extra cost.

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

    YOU AS A SIDESHOW CHARACTER: There are only FIVE slots for these small speaking roles written right into Issue #1. You will work with the creators to become one of the sideshow legends that Tod Browning considered for the film but did not cast. What could be better?!! PLUS you will get a LIMITED EDITION ARCHIVAL ART PRINT of “Freaks” character art on 100% cotton rag paper, numbered & signed by famed artist Bill Nelson; PLUS you will get an EXCLUSIVE SIGNED EDITION – ISSUE #1: A high-quality first edition of “ONE OF US: The Making of Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ – Reimagined,” signed by Michael Kriegsman and Bill Nelson, with your name included on the “special thanks” page; PLUS a print reproduction of a rare final “Freaks” shooting script; AND everything shipped one month early anywhere in the world at no extra cost.

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Funding period

- (30 days)