"If the Coen Brothers filmed Flannery O'Connor's stories using the ghost of Grant Wood as set and costume designer, the resulting film might resemble the tales in this career-launching collection from Alan Heathcock, a writer distinguished by his poetic treatment of the quotidian violence that underpins too much of American life." - Barnes & Noble Review
Alan Heathcock's story "Smoke" first appeared in the Kenyon Review, and is included in Volt, his award-winning collection of short fiction published by Graywolf Press in 2011. Read an excerpt here: http://goo.gl/drvfA
SMOKE is a story of brutality, redemption, and the desolate landscape intrinsic to both. It is late summer in the rural community of Krafton, fire season, the air thick with heat and soot. Fifteen-year-old Vernon wakes in the early dawn to discover his father at his window—wounded, filthy, and blood-stained. He orders Vernon to dress quietly and quickly, then leads him miles into the woods where he has dragged the body of a stranger he confesses to killing in self-defense the night before. Together, father and son set out to dispose of the body, and to make sense of the violence that has occurred, and that which is yet to come.
A story of deep humanity, SMOKE will be a haunting, meditative film in the vein of Paul Thomas Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, and Ingmar Bergman.
Stephen Heleker and Cody Gittings are the founders of Red House Media, a visual arts collective established in 2012 in Boise, Idaho. They approach projects with unique and powerful style, creative solutions, and a passion for storytelling. RHM's clients include Amazon, CELTX, and best-selling authors Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash) and Warren Adler (War of the Roses).
Stephen and Cody are strongly committed to advancing and working within Boise's already burgeoning arts community; they have collaborated locally with Treefort Music Fest, Homegrown Theater, and Retroscope Media.
Alan Heathcock is the award-winning author of Volt, a collection of short fiction which debuted in 2011 to immediate critical acclaim, including praise from The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, GQ, and The Chicago Tribune. The stories in Volt are haunting, visceral, and beautifully rendered; sometimes menacing and heartbreaking, always compelling and potent with deeply-imagined landscapes.
Alan's fiction has also appeared in the Harvard Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Storyville, and Zoetrope: All Story. He is the recipient of the Whiting Award, the National Magazine Award, the GLCA New Writers Award, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Award Finalist. He currently lives in Boise, Idaho.
What we need to make SMOKE a reality
Film is a collaborative art. We are blessed to belong to a community of talented, generous and creative individuals. Many of the talented women and men we've reached out to have agreed to work with us at a fraction of industry rates; however, we will still have some serious expenses to deal with, including:
- Cast and Crew - There will be a lot of fingerprints on this movie, and we want to treat our collaborators as fairly as possible. We are casting very ambitiously in order to perfectly capture the inner workings of our characters. The more professional our set is, the better we can take advantage of first-rate acting talent.
- Transportation - We are committed to carpooling and minimizing our use of fuel, but with locations ranging from a Boise studio to the forests of Cascade, Idaho, it's going to take some serious gas money to get everyone where they need to be.
- Lodging - Whether in Boise or a remote location, everyone will need a place to sleep.
- Food - Production will likely stretch up to two weeks in length, and it will take a lot of food to keep everyone healthy and mentally sharp.
- Equipment - To ensure that our film is as beautiful and impacting as Alan's cinematic prose, we will be utilizing cutting-edge cinema cameras and lighting equipment.
What we've done so far
Once we received the green-light to make SMOKE, we set right to work. To date we have:
- Applied for and received a grant from the Idaho Commission on the Arts
- Adapted Alan's story into a screenplay
- Organized public readings of the screenplay with professional actors
- Developed a detailed budget and shooting schedule
- Networked with industry professionals to ensure that the finished film reaches the widest audience possible
- Commissioned six Boise artists to design original artwork for the film in the form of theatrical-size movie posters
Where do we go from here?
Once we receive funding we can:
- Begin the casting process
- Secure locations for production
- Hire key crew members
- and SHOOT THE FILM!
After we're done shooting, we'll hole up in a dark room with all of the footage and promise not to leave until we have a cohesive film. From there, we'll take SMOKE into audio mixing, color grading, and VFX design—this is where we fine-tune the cinematic look and feel of the film.
When postproduction wraps up, a final product will emerge. We'll be ready to send SMOKE into competition at some of the most prestigious U.S. and International film festivals, including:
- Sundance Film Festival
- Cannes, The Short Film Corner
- Tribeca Film Festival
- South by Southwest
- Palm Springs International Film Festival
A top prize at any of these festivals could qualify SMOKE for the short film Academy Award.
A message from the filmmakers:
SMOKE is an ambitious project—the most ambitious film either of us have ever made. The on-location photography in the great forests of Idaho will be demanding. We will need to build the walls of an indoor cave. It will take amazing acting talent to truly bring these characters to life.
In another story from Volt, one character states that "small fires make big fires." Cody and I have been working together for nearly four years, originally brought together by our love of cinema and a shared dream of becoming filmmakers. While we pursued our college degrees we would often talk about attending film school like so many of our heroes. However, we discovered new heroes that took nontraditional routes to writing and directing feature films. As the time to apply to graduate school approached, we felt more and more confident in our filmmaking abilities, and weighed the pros and cons of spending $200,000 to learn how to do something we were already learning to do on our own. So we didn't apply.
Now we're making SMOKE. Not only is SMOKE a movie we desperately want made, but it is also an opportunity for us to pursue our long-term goals. Everyone knows the film industry is rife with pedigree and outdated business models. But excellence is a language of its own, and, if we make SMOKE the way we know we can, it can open doors for us. Cody and I are each currently developing stories that we'd like to see made into feature films. An excellent short film, particularly one that places in well-known festivals, is a way for us to earn the credibility required to bring those ideas to life. After all, small fires make big fires.
We appreciate your contributions. If you are unable to give, please help us by getting the word out. We want as many people to hear this story as possible.
There's no way for us to fully express our gratitude, but thank you.
Risks and challenges
Making films is difficult and expensive. But we've been preparing and building expertise; befriending and learning from some of the most talented and successful artists in Idaho.
The biggest risk is not fulfilling our Kickstarter goal. If we don't reach our goal we will receive NO funding. Our grants and other support have carried us this far, but if our Kickstarter project is not funded, this film could very well be dead in the water.
After funding there are still risks—something could go wrong on set, a light or a lens could break. We have local fundraisers scheduled to try and raise a "rainy day" fund for the film, which will help us offset those risks.
We are very confident in our ability to get this film through production. With your help, we can make a beautiful film that all of us can be proud of.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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