A psychological drama about Mira, a scientific illustrator who desperately conceals worsening temporal lobe epilepsy from Kaya, an immortal jellyfish expert, until tragedy forces Mira out of hiding.
When Kaya invites her graduate student, Mira, to her remote island lab to complete a study of the life-cycle of the immortal jellyfish, and illustrate it for a research grant, it's the opportunity of a life-time for Mira.
However, on the claustrophobic island, Mira struggles to hide worsening short-term memory loss from seizures. As her own mind cycles through life, reversal, death, and rebirth, she finds a sense of hope in the jellyfish's unique ability to regenerate itself.
Though she refuses to be held back by her epilepsy, Mira must learn to do the thing she's most afraid of: be seen and value her life, flaws and all. Many of us can relate to Mira's shame: suffering in silence - valuing our work more than our lives - believing hiding is protection.
Mira and Kaya search for regeneration in their research, but ultimately find it through each other.
MIRA is inspired by a friend of Amanda's struggle with improperly treated temporal lobe epilepsy that caused her to lose years of her life. Through emotional connection with these characters, Amanda hopes to convey how coping with this illness can effect ones emotions, identity, and relationships, and heighten a sense of impermanence.
If you knew that at any moment, your mind might stop, what could you hang onto? How would you live?
If the jellyfish's ability to reverse is what makes it amazing, is there a silver lining in Mira's reversion?
Turritopsis dornhii, the immortal jellyfish, is the only known species that reverts from an adult to embryonic state when stressed or old. If Turritopsis weren't so fragile, they could reincarnate indefinitely.
Amanda's background is in animated storytelling. She is passionate about telling this story using a strong visual style, with hybrid live-action and VFX, tonally and thematically inspired by the following films (and Magritte!)
- underwater camera photography
- hypnotic CG & Stop-motion jellyfish
- exteriors at a Marine Preserve
- creative use of sound to immerse the viewer in the protagonist's mind as she struggles with temporal lobe epilepsy
SLOAN & SCIENCE ADVISERS
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Program aims to influence the next generation of filmmakers to tackle science and technology themes and characters, to increase visibility for feature films that depict this subject matter, and to produce new films about science and technology and about scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.
To ensure scientific accuracy, the Sloan Grant requires filmmakers to work with a science adviser. For MIRA, we have the good fortune of having two!
Dr. Heck, medical director of the Keck Medical Center of USC Comprehensive Epilepsy Program and Chief of Neurology, has been instrumental in advising on the accurate portrayal of epilepsy.
Dr. Miglietta, professor of Marine Biology at Texas A&M, is one of few scholars of Turritopsis dornhii, the immortal jellyfish, and has been Mira's lead science adviser on lab research and the life-cycle of this species.
- 8 DAY PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY: December 2014
- EDITING & VISUAL EFFECTS: Spring & Summer 2015
- SOUND & FINAL POLISH: Fall 2015
- FESTIVAL SUBMISSIONS: Starting Fall 2015
To make MIRA, we need to raise $15,000.
The Sloan Production Grant covers 60% of our expenses. The following require this additional Kickstarter fundraising:
- Underwater photography camera and crew costs
- Visual Effects (all the jellyfish will be computer generated, for safety reasons the underwater world will be shot in a pool and recreated in post-production: models, animation, compositing, etc.)
- Water locations, permits, boat rental, stunt and safety staff
For this Kickstarter Campaign, we hope to raise $12,000 to make it through production and half of post-production. We will seek additional grants for finishing funds.
Risks and challenges
To create a believable and immersive underwater world and to accurately portray the immortal jellyfish in the lab, MIRA will have Visual Effects shots and underwater camera photography, which are time-consuming and can be expensive. Luckily, Amanda has a background in animation and VFX, so understands budgeting time and money in this area, and can complete shots herself as necessary. Nonetheless, this does increase the amount of time that this project will take. Realistically, we expect post-production to take a full year, so we hope you'll be patient with us!
The other main risk associated with this project is that we are tackling a challenging subject matter told through a delicately unconventional voice. This is also what excites and draws us to this project. Amanda believes strongly in these characters and this story, and is in the process of developing a feature script based on the short. We are absolutely committed to seeing it through and have a talented crew with a great track record. We would love for you to join us on this journey!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (20 days)