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An extremist youth bible study is manipulated into performing a group suicide by their insane leader, but two members try to stop it.

Minimalistic poster by Abe Diaz
Minimalistic poster by Abe Diaz

WHAT IS CULT?

Cult is a feature film (about 95 minutes in length) that I have written and will direct. 

My name is Lance Karasti and I am a young filmmaker. I graduated from filmschool out in Hollywood a couple years ago and I am currently living in my hometown of Duluth, MN. It is my goal to make my debut feature film here.

Filmmaking is my life. I've been making shorts since I was big enough to hold a camera. My last short went to several festivals and won a couple awards. I want to make many movies in my lifetime and now is the time to start.

My main inspiration for this project is Orson Welles. Some consider his masterpiece "Citizen Kane" to be the best film ever made. He was 26 when he made it. There was no film school then, no DVD commentaries, and no internet. There is no reason why something just as good by someone younger hasn't been made yet.

PLOT

An extremist college-aged bible study is manipulated by their charismatic and insane leader into performing a group suicide, but two members conspire to stop it.

The film actually opens with the cult leader, Lowell Dietrich buying the punch that will be used in the suicide. From there we go to the house where we will spend a majority of the film watching the situation unfold. 

Lowell begins to read from his own book that he believes god wanted him to write: The Book of Dietrich. According to the book, they are meant to kill themselves that night. Laura, the newest member of the group, realizes things aren't right and conspires with Lowell's brother Buddy to stop it.

They try to understand how they got to that point and the film goes into sequences showing how the group started. We learn how the bible study helped people and how it grew to control them. We also begin to examine Lowell, and why he started the group in the first place. It turns out Buddy might be hiding some dark secrets about Lowell. As they begin to realize what they have to do to stop the suicide, Lowell becomes suspicious of their plotting.

STORY

There are many obvious themes about religion, power, and corruption, but the film is really about family. Each of the members plays an important role in each others lives. There is a supportiveness and comfort that is unique to religious groups, but there is also a bad side that is just as unique. 

One of the major themes is mental illness. As the film progresses we peel back the layers of Lowell and learn about his possible schizophrenia. Not only does he become very violent, but he convinces others to become violent as well.

While Cult is fictional, things like it have happened in real life and on much bigger scales. One of the main purposes of the film is to clearly illustrate the dangerous type of thinking that many followers of cults like this have. It shows how people can, and have equated themselves with Gods, and why this type of power is naturally corruptive.

CHARACTER STUDY

While the movie takes place within a short period time, we really get to understand the characters, and that is what I think will make this film unique. There are multiple stories happening at once.

There is the story of Buddy who is having to come to terms with the idea that his older brother might have been using him.

There is the story of Laura, the young girl who begins to realize she might not actually believe what she thought when her sister's life is on the line.

And, there is the story of Lowell, a confused and sick young man who is just trying to do the right thing.

RELIGION

While religion is a major theme and plot device, this is not an attack. The film is based on several real life events, and it was my intention to use those events as the premise of a story. The film is a raw examination of a deeply troubled man who uses religion as a tool for his own selfish reasons. 

THIS FILM IS ABOUT EXTREMISTS.

I want to relieve the tension around this serious subject matter by making a film that is entertaining.

STYLE

To learn more about my style as a filmmaker, check out this short film I made a couple years ago. I think it is the closest thing to what Cult will be like in terms of camera movement. (Skip past the intro, it is very long.)

LEGACY

As is the case with these small budget films, odds are they aren't going to be blockbusters. But that's OK. I see this film going on to collect a dedicated audience over time. A cult following, if you will.  

BUDGET

The money you donate will be going into the necessary equipment that we cannot go without. $10,000 is the absolute minimum I can make this movie for. I will be going out of pocket even with the 10K. Your money will not go to waste.

We need camera equipment, microphones, lights, a computer to edit on, digital storage, food, and so much more. Every single cent will be going into things that are absolutely essential to completing this project. Most of the crew will be working for free. We are making some of our own equipment and getting as creative as possible in order to not spend frivolously. 

Everything needed has been thought of in this minimum budget. That means the percentage kickstarter takes, and the cost of the rewards.

IF WE DO NOT GET THE FULL $10,000 BY THE DEADLINE, THEN NO MONEY IS CHARGED AND WE GET NOTHING.

CONNECT WITH US

I want this to be an interactive experience. I plan on making video blogs and updating my website and the facebook page as much as possible.

Follow me on twitter: www.twitter.com/samsdayfuss

Like us on facebook: www.facebook.com/cultthefilm

And check out my website/blog: www.samsdayfuss.com

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Filmmaking is always a risky endeavor. So many things can go wrong that you just can't plan for. The art of filmmaking is dealing with situations as they come, and doing what it takes to achieve your vision. I pride myself on being able to remain calm and work with the crew to get the shots we need.

I think filmmaking should be just as fun as it is serious and I run my set that way. I believe that as long as we find the right cast and crew we will be able to get the job done. Some of the actors have already been cast, and most of the crew has been put together. I trust my team, and can't wait to work with them.

I storyboard the entire movie ahead of time. That means every shot you see in the film, is something I drew and planned out before hand. I confirm everything is ready, until we are actually shooting.

As a director, I am completely responsible for everything that happens. If a job needs to get done, I'll be there to see it though. Pre-production and planning are essential.

FAQ

  • Casting will begin the second this kickstarter is done.

    Last updated:
  • I'm going to try and make it anyway. It will be far less cinematic and different in style than what I was going for, but I need to make this.

    The whole point of this money is to help me make a theatrical quality film on an insanely low budget. I know exactly how to get the look and feel that I want.

    Without the money the movie will no doubt feel and look less cinematic. I will probably be making the film for an internet audience at that point.

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