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In the heart of North Korea, a girl is desperate to belong. But in a world full of deceit, can you trust anyone--even yourself?
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113 backers pledged $10,195 to help bring this project to life.
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$10,195

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THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT!!! WE'RE ADDING A STRETCH GOAL OF $10,000.

So we hit our first goal in LESS THAN 24 HOURS. Thank you, thank you,  THANK YOU for your love, word of mouth, and incredible contributions!  We're thrilled, overwhelmed, and beyond excited. We couldn't be more  grateful to all of you for your generosity. 

You're also why we want to make this film the best it can possibly  be. To that end, we aren't stopping here. We're going for a stretch goal  of $10K!

Our first $5K covers casting, translation, transportation, and crafty  (food). But that's all just bare minimum to get this done, even with  many people donating their time. To immerse you in our incredible world,  we need a remote location where we won't see any modern buildings or  even any cars. And with a remote location comes extra costs for  lighting, generators, transportation, and well, yes, we'll even need our  own portable privy. (Too much?) We've also got plans for the coolest of  costumes and props that will transport you to our world.

 We don't want to just get this made, we want to get it made well,  with authenticity and style. We want to make you the best film possible.  So thank you for supporting our stretch goal of $10,000!!

STRETCH GOAL OF $10,000 to cover:

(First $5000 covers casting, translation, transportation and food. THANK YOU!)

REMOTE LOCATION

Our film is set in North Korea. To create a believable world we need a remote  location + permits where we won't see any modern buildings or cars. We weighed the cost and benefits of leaving LA to shoot, but decided that we'd have more access to talent and crew here. Plus plane tickets + hotel rooms are expensive too. Needless to say, a remote location in LA really boosts the budget. 

LIGHT US UP: GAFFERS + GRIP + GENERATORS

Filmmaking is all in the lighting. Every crew relies on the guys and gals (this is where  gaffers and grips come in) who can help create a magical, monumental  world. We have some extra challenges too. Part of being on a remote location is we need to get generators to power everything, from lights to portable bathrooms to our computers. And we need transportation for the generators.

COSTUMES

What would a film set in Korea be without hanboks? (Traditional  Korean clothing) We had 'em ordered. All the way from Seoul. Cause we  want our amazing actors properly dressed and gorgeous. 

PROPS

Life-size Billboard  with mural art (!)  that lets you know where you are, check. Signs in Korean for our factory  and school, check. Realistic mouse, check.  We've got an amazing  Production Designer on board and we want to give her the budget she  deserves.

THANK YOU for all!!!

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The Story 

Fifteen-year-old Kyong-mi is smart, athletic, a devoted student—and relentlessly tormented because of her “dirty” Southern roots. She leads an isolated existence in the heart of North Korea, bullied by her fellow students and even her teacher, until a mysterious government recruiter appears. With him comes the possibility of escape, but not until Kyong-mi learns a lesson of self-reliance, and what it really means to belong.

The Vision

The first time I saw North Korea was through barbed wire and heavy fog. I'd traveled from Seoul to Panmunjeom, near the Joint-Security Area, where the armistice that brought a close to (but never officially ended) the Korean war was signed. 

The only people we saw that day were soldiers. But the character of Kyong-mi was already in my mind. Who were the people behind the wire? What were their lives like? How had they remained so effectively isolated from the world for so long?

When I returned to Seoul I was shocked to learn that the North Korean state's central philosophy was juche or self-reliance. In America, self-reliance meant independence: the freedom to travel, to speak our minds. Was the North Korean isolationist take clever gaslighting? Or is the American ideal more complicated than we think? Perhaps, both?

Living far from home, I grappled with questions of going my own way, isolation, and the universal need to belong. We pledge our loyalties to one another because we all require support. But what if those in whom we place our allegiance do not deserve our trust?  And what if, surrounded by deceit and division, we lose trust in even ourselves?  These were the questions I asked myself, peering through that impenetrable fence.

And so began Kyong-mi’s story.

FAQ

Q: Why are you shooting it in Korean?

A: When we did a reading of the full feature a few months back, we all realized that original language was going to be the only way to go with this project. So we're hiring a translator and will have help on set as well. It's an additional expense, but well worth the authenticity it will bring to the project. 

Q: What’s been your biggest challenge?

A: One of the challenges of this project has been portraying North Korea -- a place about which very little is known. This project has required an inordinate amount of research, helped by the fact that it's been a lifelong topic of interest. The next challenge will be accurately portraying a world that looks nothing like our own: bikes over cars, no non-Asian faces, architecture that doesn't bump us out of the setting. We will need to find more remote locations than a short film like ours would usually demand. But we're committed to getting the remoteness right. After all, isolation is central to the short's theme.

Q: Um, isn’t North Korea the bad guy?

A: A people is not necessarily their leadership -- a lesson America is in the throes of learning. This is one of the first (if not the first?) American films to attempt to portray ordinary North Koreans. Its themes are universal human ones. It is not an apologia for repressive government, quite the contrary. But it asks us to emphasize people over politics. And to engage -- and support -- our fellow citizens of the world. 

Q: Who drew the amazing storyboards you are using?

A: That is the incomparable Cuong Huynh. Read more about him and the rest of our team, below.

OUR CAST

(Please see updates for more on each of our incredible cast members....)

Jennifer J. Kim as Kyong-mi



Edward Hong as Mr. Kim

Jennifer Yun as Teacher Kang

Carol Kim as Eun-hwa

Yoshi Sudarso as Woo-jin

THE TEAM

Dedi Felman (writer/director) once upon a time lived and taught in South Korea. During that period, she developed a life-long interest in the North and its inhabitants. 

Previously, Dedi worked in publishing as an executive editor at Oxford University Press and a senior editor at Simon & Schuster, where she developed award-winning and bestselling book projects across a range of genres.  

She attended the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting and teaches TV writing for Script Anatomy. Most recently, she wrote and directed an award-winning short, Emotional State, and was a 2016 HBO Access Writing Fellow.

Will DaRosa (director of photography)  is a native of Sacramento, CA, a music video director, a cinematographer, and a filmmaker. Will’s rapidly lengthening resume testifies to his dedication to his craft and his growing reputation as one of the fresh talents to work with on the Los Angeles indie-genre scene. 

The shorts, web series, and feature documentaries Will’s shot have screened at Cannes Short Film Corner Program, Hollyshorts, Riverrun Film Festival, LA Shorts Fest, Burbank International Film Festival, Cincinnati Film Festival and more. As director/dp, his music videos have aired on MTV and VH1 and been viewed millions of times on YouTube.  Will's Reel 

Darryl Reeves (stunt coordinator) has won multiple Screen Actors Guild Nominations for Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble and has worked on over 150 television shows, films and commercials as a Stunt Coordinator or Stunt Performer. He’s best known for his work on Iron Man and The Dark Knight Rises. Darryl's website.

Helen Cho and Kim Joo-seong (translators) Helen Cho is a freelance translator and interpreter  based in Seoul. She received both her bachelor's and master's degrees  in English Literature from University College London, UK. She won the  46th Modern Korean Literature Translation Commendation Award in Fiction  and a Translation Grant from the  Literature Translation Institute of Korea. Her interests include  literature, film, theatre and performing arts. As well as literary  works, she has translated numerous films, plays and musicals.

Kim Joo-seong was born in Osaka, Japan but was later sent to North Korea, where he lived for fifteen years before defecting to South in 2008. Prior to coming to South Korea, he worked at Academy of Sciences of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and was a member of the Chosun Literary Association. He completed his master’s degree in Society, Culture and Unification at University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. He currently serves on the board of directors for the nonprofit organization BeNaMu, and teaches at the Institute for Unification Education. He is a member of the Korean Association of Writers, and his articles have appeared in a number of newspapers and magazines.

Adam Bonsib (editor) is a LA-based creative specializing in post production -  everything from promos and demos to feature documentary. He graduated  from NYU with a major in Film and TV and a minor in Producing in 2010. He won the Best Editing Award at the International Independent Permanent Memories Festival (Italy) for the previous short he and Dedi worked on together: Emotional State.  Adam's Reel 

Cuong Huynh (concept artist) is a San Diego-based storyboard artist with more than 15 years  experience helping writers, producers and directors visualize and tell  their stories. His clients include filmmakers, ad agencies and music  video producers. Cuong is also a co-creator of a series of comic books  to be published in the near future. 

Craig Kemp (composer) is an Australian-born musician, composer and producer currently residing in Melbourne. He started his musical journey at a young age,  immersed in the music always played in the family home. Whilst earning a bachelor of music, Craig played in various bands of different styles allowing him to create a unique, natural sound. He decided to fuse his knowledge of contemporary music with his love for film and started composing large scale theatrical scores. Post-degree, he dived into the world of music production and has been working on a never ending list of projects ever since. Craig's reel.

Sarah C. Reeves (consultant) is currently editing the pilot of Tarell Alvin McRainey’s (co-writer of the Oscar-winning film, Moonlight) TV debut, David Makes Man for OWN and Warner Horizon. She was previously an editor on FOX’s Gotham and AMC’s The Walking Dead. Other premium cable shows she’s worked on include Preacher, Homeland, Masters of Sex, and American Horror Story. On the feature film side, she edited the lesbian/action cult favorite, The Archer, which premiered at SXSW and was a nominee for their Gamechanger Award. She also edited Fatal Flip, I Am Watching You, and the Hong Kong $100 million worldwide box-office smash, Cold War 2, for which she, along with co-editor Jordan Goldman, ACE, received a nomination for Best Editing at the Hong Kong Film Awards.

Chandus Jackson (Consulting Producer) is an award-winning screenwriter, who participated in the inaugural Universal Writer’s Fellowship, Disney Feature  Writing Program, and the Producers Guild of America Diversity Workshop. His crime thriller screenplay MUTI made the Hit List, a list of Hollywood's top spec screenplays. Chandus served as an  Army Air Defense officer and was stationed in Germany where he  participated in Operation Joint Endeavor and later Japan where he ran  logistics for PACOM (Pacific Command). Drawing on his experience in the military, Chandus recently finished writing SPOILS OF WAR, a gritty political thriller. He  is repped by WME and Bellevue Productions.

Ester Song Kim (Production Designer) is a Los Angeles based art director / production designer. A filmmaker herself, her stylish anti-rom-com, The Practice of Loneliness was recently featured on nobudge.com. Highly-regarded and much-in-demand by up-and-coming directors, Ester's production design credits include Sundance pick, Susaneland, feature film For Izzy, and Sound Speeds. For more on Ester's stunning work, visit her brand new website.

WHY KICKSTARTER?

We need you and your support to bring the full story to screen.  By pressing one of the buttons to the right and donating, you help us:

Find our actors (finishing the casting process, renting  audition/rehearsal space)

Secure crew (art department, production design, stunt performers, lighting)

Secure locations (abandoned warehouse, classroom, snowy field) 

Ensure we can bring awareness to the finished short (festival applications, marketing, outreach)

Risks and challenges

Making any short film entails risks. A film set in such an unusual world, as per our Q&A above, entails additional challenges. But your help and participation will allow us to turn those challenges into opportunities, to make the best film we can, and to realize the dream.

We are grateful for your support and to have you sharing this journey with us.

Credits (Thank you!!):
Poster: Jacob Arden McClure
Kickstarter video edit: Michael Allen Bell
Photo of Reading: Jeremy Kerr
Actors (Pictured, Feature Reading): Cruz Kim, Edward Hong, Intae Kim, J. Elijah Cho, Jennifer Yang, Jennifer Yun, Katusha Jin, Kelvin Han Yee, Walter Hong, Yvonne Lu. Readers: Geneva Burleigh, Alissa Davis
Thanks: Laura Brennan, Tracie Laymon, Geneva Burleigh, John Crye, Philip Eisner, Greg Stern, Cruz Kim, Joanne Lee, Cynthia Furey, Marisa Tam, Gary Hershberger, Hollywood Casting and Film.

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Funding period

- (30 days)