1. Violently ripped in two.
RIVEN tells of a troubled 13 yr old girl who is left to fend for herself after her special forces father doesn't return home from a mission. Devon, the young girl, must balance her childhood with survival in the new violent world she has stumbled upon - contract killing.
From a feature film screenplay written in 2005 by Jean Miller and Brian Ramage, RIVEN doesn't take the comic book approach taken by recent films, but instead takes the story and the character seriously and realistically, focusing both on the action and the pain; showing the hurt and drama that leads to the action. There are many risks for a girl this age in the business she has fallen into, and Riven addresses the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, the deadly serious and the comedic. This isn't a comic book superhero, this is a real teen girl.
RIVEN Premium Cable TV Series Pilot
While it started as the feature screenplay "RIVEN" and found life as a short film titled "SEVERED", what we are pitching here is a 55 minute pilot episode of the original story adapted to a 13 episode premium cable TV series format.
While I always only envisioned RIVEN as a feature film, SEVERED earned me well over a year of meetings in some top Hollywood producer's offices, and while they loved the story and characters, I did what I could to sell the feature project, but it almost always kept coming back to adapting the screenplay to a premium cable TV series. Why premium cable? Three reasons. A) The feature is full of strong language and violence, so it's likely "R" rating adapts better to premium cable; but B) More story and character freedom. Simply put - look at Game Of Thrones - you can do things on premium cable that you just cant do on basic cable; and C) premium cable original programming is exploding. Now is the time.
Finally, adapting a 90min feature script to a 13 episode premiere season offers far more room for development. It seems many shows struggle to just insert filler into their shows, completely ignoring the opportunity to use the extra screen time to further develop both the story and the characters. And to me, this was the selling point on adapting the feature to TV. I created these characters in 2005 and have worked tirelessly since then to bring them to screen. They have become living people and every action and reaction comes from the who they are - not to lazily progress a plotline, but because their character guides it.
WHAT WILL THE MONEY GO TOWARD?
The funds raised will go toward every step of the production process, including administration, cast/crew compensation, casting, fight training, props, wardrobe, locations, food, insurance and anything else I can't think of at the moment. In fact the only thing that the money will not go to is me. Everyone on this project will be compensated for their time and effort, but my only reward will be a job well done.
My bio is below, so we'll continue to:
PHILIP BLOOM - Cinematographer
Phil and I have been friends for just over two years now, having connected as filmmakers on Twitter, sharing lively discussion on every aspect of filmmaking and films. Making home in England, Philip lives most of the time out of in suitcase in hotels all around the world, in high demand working as a cinematographer and educator holding sold out workshops on DSLR cinematography as well as other emerging digital filmmaking technologies. I don't travel so much, but Philip's travels bring him through L.A. a few times a year allowing me to hang out and catch up with my friend.
For those that are not familiar with Philip and his work, Philip has been working in broadcast for almost 20 years. With clients ranging from BBC, SkyNews, FOX, Microsoft, Apple, Audio, and CBS, Philip has devoted his life to production and in the last 5 years or so, being on top of the cutting edge of digital technology - sometimes even before it emerges. As maybe the most knowledgeable cinematographer when it comes to DSLR filmmaking, Philip was brought in by George Lucas and Rick McCallum of Lucasfilm to teach them up at SkyWalker Ranch how to use these new cameras for their upcoming feature film Red Tails.
Wanting to take a bit of a break from his normal schedule, Philip and I discussed the new plan for Riven, and interested, he asked for a copy of the script. Already in pre-production for the RIVEN Pilot, and about to start looking for a Director of Photography that I not only get along well with, but can handle the demands of a short schedule as well as the desired visual aesthetic, Philip would be a perfect fit. He responded: "I love it. Let's shoot it."
So here we are.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
As explained, we are making a 55 minute TV pilot. Writing began over a year ago, pre-production began this past Spring, casting will begin in August, fight training will begin not long after that, and principal photography begins this Winter. Upon wrap, we will move to accelerated post-production with a final product within a few months.
Along the way, we will blog about everything. In fact I highly recommend checking out the $50 donation level as that will give you a behind the scenes look that no one else will have. You will get to see every step of the process. If you get in early enough, you can watch portions of the casting sessions being streamed LIVE on the web, available only to those at that level. From there you'll witness fight training and choreography, lighting tests, rehearsals, table readings, and one thing that internet filmmakers will really enjoy - watch as we decide what camera we'll shoot on. Almost anything is an option including the new Red Epic as well as the amazing Arri Alexa. But you will be the first to know.
Philip has dedicated the past few years to filmmaker education and this will be no departure. He sees this as a chance to teach and show the entire production process instead of just focusing on a single specific piece of gear or camera.
THE PLAN AFTER COMPLETION
While Hollywood is reluctant in the current market to just jump on an idea, I have several producers that are just waiting to see what we come up with, and considering what I am confident that I can deliver as well as what I know Philip can put on-screen, I am confident that the RIVEN Pilot will be met with far more enthusiasm than SEVERED has already seen.
Also, once we have the pilot episode in the can, it is about half of the feature film script, so with another concerted effort just like this, we can also finish the feature giving us another product to shop around and even enter into festivals.
What is this "SEVERED" you keep mentioning?
Warning: Strong language and violence.
SEVERED on YouTube: http://bit.ly/severedyt
SEVERED was written and produced at the beginning of summer in 2009, with a completion date of Aug. 31, 2009. Working under a very condensed schedule, the film called in tons of favors from all over, and was made for $198. VFX came from the Ukraine; music from Canada, and we were lucky to get Matt Mullins as our fight coordinator. Matt can currently be seen as "Johnny Cage" in the "Mortal Kombat: Rebirth" web series.