A hitman known only as The Snowman. A call girl known only as Star. Not their real names, obviously, but real names are a liability in the shadowy underworld these characters inhabit. Star and the Snowman is the story of two people searching for "normal" in a world of death, betrayal, and revenge. Snowman is a killer born into a family of violence; he knows no other way of life. Star is a woman out of control in a whirlwind of drugs and sex, unable to focus a damaged mind long enough to find an exit. When Snowman's latest job threatens to rip open some very old wounds for them both, they find themselves torn between the opportunity to escape this hellish life, and the need to finally learn the truth about a decades-old secret which began the whole nightmare. But in their world, learning the truth always comes with a heavy price, and such debts can only be paid in blood...
On the surface, Star and the Snowman is a crime drama, but like the characters themselves, the film is determined to tear beneath that surface. It's a tale not only of guns and gangsters, but also of the depths to which the human soul can fall, and of the courage and strength needed to climb into the light again. The filmmakers' intent is to transcend the conventions of genre, creating a universally potent drama whose bedrock will be the authenticity of its lead characters: two people struggling against a cruel world, armed only with the same hopes and dreams all of us share.
We are Ohio-based filmmakers on a mission - a mission to produce world-class independent films in Ohio that can compete in the broader feature film market. Not an easy task.
In the spring of 2012, we shot three scenes from the script as a proof-of-concept to illustrate director John Whitney’s vision for Star and the Snowman.
These sample scenes were produced with the help of a professional volunteer crew dedicated to the film's success. That's the key. The most critical element of our plan is to surround ourselves with seasoned professionals that love the process of filmmaking and believe in us and our vision of making quality films.
The one thing that we are sure of is that as filmmakers, we enjoy compelling stories about people who have been placed at a crossroads. In our past work, themes of loss and how people navigate life changes are what have driven us creatively. Fictional stories with one foot in reality that immerse audiences in familiar worlds while asking questions, giving few answers and having the filmgoer ask themselves, “What would I do?” We feel this is essential to telling original and compelling stories.
Because of the type of worlds in which our stories are set, we're able to use existing locations to communicate the visual tone of our films. By doing this, our brand of filmmaking remains cost-effective and efficient without compromising quality or production value. Our approach follows in the footsteps of successful independent films like Sundance Grand Prize winning Winter’s Bone and Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter, which was shot and produced here in Ohio. These films were done with modest budgets. By bringing together a talented team and working from a great script, they tell human stories that truly connect with the audience in a way that has resulted in critical and commercial success. This mirrors our philosophy.
Because you want to see good movies made. Because you want to see THIS movie made. Because you're a good person. Because when this movie is completed, you can say, "Oh, yeah. I helped make that happen." And because you're a good person. I know...we said that twice but it's true. Lets make this happen.
What if I can’t pledge right now? No problem! You can still help us by sharing this page with your friends, family, and colleagues and spreading the word about our film and campaign. Tweet us, share us, like us on Facebook—every bit helps.
Every dime of what we raise through Kickstarter will go toward the three parts that make up phase one of producing Star and the Snowman.
Part One - Winter Scenes and 2nd Unit Exteriors
The stark, gray Ohio winter itself is like a character in Star and the Snowman, and is essential to the tone and setting of the film. The winter weather is something we can't recreate - we have to capture the film's establishing shots, exteriors and footage for the title sequence in Steubenville and Mingo Junction, Ohio before we move into spring. At the same time, additional shooting of winter urban landscapes will take place in Columbus and Cleveland as well. This is an important element in the film. The mood we establish in the opening of the film and the atmosphere we infuse throughout the film is PARAMOUNT... so we feel that if we snooze, we lose on this.
Part Two - Casting
Casting an independent film is a delicate process and critical to the film’s success. If we don't handle it properly, we will have failed as filmmakers. While the majority of the roles in the film will be cast with regional actors, we think it's important to cast familiar faces in key supporting roles to better position ourselves when we offer the film to distributors. To do this, we will be working with a Los Angeles-based casting director.
Part Three – Production
We need funding for continued preproduction and materials for phase two of production, principal photography and additional fundraising. We all know that Kickstarter is a powerful crowd-funding tool, but we can't rely on it alone to make the film happen. Kickstarter will also help us reach out to well-heeled individuals to help with our future funding goals. We also need to produce additional materials that will help us with further development, sales and marketing of the film. If you want to build a house, you must have the proper tools. Exciting and eye-catching materials that speak to the potential investor and outline our plan are paramount to the film's success.
We have been working in production for over 20 years and have done everything from PA work to producing feature films. And the takeaway from all of this experience is that we have the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work in independent filmmaking. We're in the process of building a strong creative team and crew made up of talented individuals who are dedicated to creating work of surpassing quality…and this is the start.
John Whitney – the director
Our director is award-winning filmmaker John Whitney. John’s films have played in festivals across the country and garnered a number of awards. His films A Passion for Filmmaking and The Fixer have screened on the Independent Film Channel (IFC). Check out his latest film Eroded which has garnered many awards.
Bill Farmer – the writer
The script was written by two-time Nicholl Fellowship finalist William Farmer. Bill is a seasoned Hollywood screenwriter who has optioned multiple scripts and most recently received story credit on the big budget film, Jonah Hex starring Josh Brolin. We are extremely lucky to have Bill on board and feel that the script is fantastic.
Kevin McClatchy – the lead
Kevin has been cast in the lead role in the film. He is a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and has appeared in feature films and television programs including Unstoppable, Love and Other Drugs, NCIS, The X-Files, and General Hospital. Kevin is also an accomplished stage actor and recently appeared in the CATCO production of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.
Phil Garrett – producer
Phil has 20 feature films under his belt in positions ranging from his early days as a production assistant to writing and producing. Phil's experience includes studio features and independent films in live action, animation, and visual effects, and his body of work includes projects at DreamWorks Animation SKG, PDI, and Disney.
Dino Tripodis – producer & playing the role of “Frank” in the film
Dino started Never the Luck Productions five years ago and produced the festival award-winning feature film Minus One, the short films The Funnyman and Happy Endings. Dino also served as co-producer on John Whitney's and Phil Garrett's award-winning short film Eroded. He currently serves as Executive Producer of Nite Owl Theatre, an online series now in its second season.
Gil Whitney – the cinematographer
Gil brings his talents and unique visual style to this film. He has worked on many independent short films and features and recently the documentary feature Meet the Phantods. Gil is also known for his award-winning cinematography on the short films Measured Sacrifice and The Fixer, which was broadcast on the Independent Film Channel.
Michelle Messenger Garrett – publicist/PR coordinator
Michelle is a public relations consultant and award-winning writer with more than 20 years of experience executing successful PR strategies for companies ranging in size from small and startup businesses to enterprises such as Adobe and HP. Her background includes working with clients in the entertainment industry and with Cinequest, the San Jose Film Festival.
Risks and challenges
There are always risks in filmmaking, especially at the independent level. With as much planning that goes into any feature film, unforeseen circumstances can cause a number of challenges: the schedule may need to be revised, location issues can arise, and weather can be your friend or most despised enemy. Unlike a studio film where money can be thrown at any problem as a solution, as independent filmmakers we have learned to be resourceful and flexible, allowing us to overcome any obstacles. We have exceptional talents at the helm of every department of the production, and they're ready to take on this challenge and be a part of something special.
A risk relative to the ultimate success of the Star and the Snowman is completing post-production by summer of 2013 in order to take the film to the American Film Market and other outlets in the fall. Producer reps (sales agents) want to have a finished film in hand. Gone are the days of showing a trailer, movie poster, or a work-in-progress to sell an independent film domestically and internationally. The main hurdle to completing the film production and post-production is quite simply, funding. With the proper funding, we can ensure deadlines will be met and deliverables will be completed on time.
We have a fantastic script. We have the drive and the desire to make this our best film yet. (Until of course we make the next one after this.) And most of all, we have a project that we know people will want to see and in turn tell others to see it. We believe in this film. We want you to believe in this film and especially us. The challenge? Making it happen.
- (30 days)