When Rob Thomas cast me in his awesome new film Veronica Mars, I didn't know that much about Kickstarter. Sure, I had heard it was a cool site. I understood vaguely that it was a whole new way for artists to raise money, and would perhaps allow Rob a way to bypass the studio system and get his film funded. But it wasn't until I was on the set that I saw first hand the enthusiasm, passion, and grassroots support that the fans brought, and it made a believer out me.
The lucky backers who were on the set with us were polite, informed and really stoked to be there. After all, they had paid to have ringside seats. They were the investors, not some studio banker in a Mercedes.
Kristin and Rob and the rest of the crew made it a fun place to work, and they encouraged me to take the leap with our own film, to work with Kickstarter to help offset the endless costs that go into putting a picture together.
We're not going to pretend we can raise five million dollars here (although that would be the bomb). But as Rob said, just putting the word out about our project, getting others on board, and maybe getting help to fund some of our development costs, well, it's a no brainer.
So here we are!
They say from the Teton mountains in Wyoming, you can see where the sky touches heaven. It's a beautiful sight indeed. Our idea of heaven is to make this incredible independent feature film that will live on forever and touch people's lives in a positive way.
Welcome to Wyoming Sky. An unforgettable Western set in Wyoming during the late 1800's, a time when a man was defined by his boots, by the horse he rode, and by the company he kept.
Wyoming Sky is a riveting story of faith and courage. It's both an epic horse chase and a wild adventure. It tells how Buffalo Bill Cody acquired a herd of special Appaloosa horses for his world famous Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, a live action show which was the forerunner of the modern circus and the greatest stadium act of its time.
In putting together this story, we realized we had stumbled upon the very heartbeat of the American West. With its themes of justice, hardship, family, and sacrifice, the world our film describes were not just empty words but a reality for the people who lived and died on the harsh frontier.
Women in particular had a rough time. They were expected to be modest and virtuous, work from sun up to sun down, and basically take a lot of crap from men. Considered the weaker sex, they had many responsibilities and none of the power. In our script, we underline their struggles and lift them to a higher place.
The true history of the West was shaped by the actions and courage of many unknown powerful women whom we forgot to mention or thank in our history books.
Our story follows the rise of Lillian Smith, who at 15 became the youngest sharpshooter in American history. She was able to shoot a spinning plate while standing on a trotting horse, no easy feat! Lily went on to join Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley as the star attraction in the Wild West Show, even meeting Queen Victoria of England during her Diamond Jubilee. What a girl!
Wyoming Sky was co-written by the Canadian novelist Nora Caron. Nora is currently on a book tour for the release of her second novel, New Dimensions of Being. When she met up with Ingo Neuhaus, the two realized they had a special writing spark together and they rolled up their sleeves to get to work. She is an expert on Shakespeare, has a Masters degree in English literature, and is crazy about horses and loves anything authentic and real. Nora helped shape the script into something extraordinary. You can find out more about Nora's many talents on her website: www.noracaron.com
Logline and Synopsis
Logline: In the summer of 1884, the proud daughter of a horse rancher returns home from back east, only to face hardship and danger on the Wyoming frontier. To save her father's ranch, she must move a herd of rare horses over 100 miles, with a gang of killers in hot pursuit.
Synopsis: After the death of his eldest daughter, a struggling Wyoming horse rancher named J.B Coates is left to care for his rebellious grand-daughter, a fifteen year-old named Lily. Unsure of how to raise Lily, and with powerful enemies closing in, J.B sends for his other daughter, Jenny, an educated doctor living in New York City. Jenny reluctantly arrives back home at her father's request only to discover that Lily is far more than a handful. Suddenly her life changes when J.B is callously murdered by gunmen working for the greedy cattle baron P.T Gilmore. Jenny must face a hard decision: either sell the ranch or try to save it. After she is visited by a legendary black stallion which appears during a lightning storm, Jenny realizes that she must save her father’s ranch, or die trying.
Making a Western is expensive. Look at how much it cost to make Lone Ranger. Yikes. We're aiming to make our Western for less than five million dollars. And we know we can pull it off. To shoot moving horses and wide open prairies requires all kinds of expensive equipment, from chase vehicles to helicopters. Plus we will need to have our own Western town of Laramie, Wyoming looking completely authentic. If you watched Deadwood, it'll give you an idea of the real look we're aiming for in this film.
This is where we get creative.
Rise of the Drones
To eliminate some of the costs, the producers have partnered up with HELI-VIDEO, an award winning production company located in Austin, Texas that is equipped with state of the art drones.
And we're not talking about Predator drones firing Hellfire missiles at bad guys, either. We're talking about the next revolution in film making. The aerial camera drone.
Eric Austin and his team at HELI-VIDEO will allow us to get shots that would normally be impossible, or at least unaffordable with traditional camera setups. This UAV platform is a combination helicopter, crane, jib, and dolly all in one. Not to mention, a traditional helicopter shot costs around $2000 dollars an hour. An added bonus is the reduced noise signature and distraction, allowing for much more intimate shots with running horses.
For more information on hiring HELI-VIDEO, or to check out Eric's other projects, go to: www.helivideo.com
The Horse Experts
Another crucial partner in making Wyoming Sky is the couple Robin and Kate Wiltshire. Owners of the Turtle Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming, these real life horse whisperers are the go-to team when it comes to shooting horses. Robin's horses have been in dozens of commercials, and most recently have been seen in Django.
The Turtle Ranch
An added bonus of working with the Wiltshires is the beautiful ranch that they own, known far and wide for its wide open views and gorgeous scenery. By shooting in and around the Turtle Ranch, the production is able to save huge amounts of money on locations. And Robin and Kate are just the kind of old-fashioned, hard-working and friendly ranchers any sensible producer would love to have on their side.
For more information on hiring Kate and Robin, or on shooting at the Turtle Ranch, go to: www.turtleranch.net
Check out their new Crash the Super Bowl entry, and vote to see them at the game.
A Shout Out to Wyoming
We also want to thank Colin Stricklin at the Wyoming Film Office for his tremendous support, and to the Wyoming Office of Tourism for letting us use some of their promotional footage in our video. Can't wait to bring the noise!
Since the film is still in the development and funding phase, we have to keep a few things hush hush. If you want to know more details about the film, or who's attached to the cast so far, just drop us an email and we will give you some inside scoop.
If you are a serious investor and want to know more about investing private equity in the actual film budget, contact us at Oceandoll Productions for a private placement memorandum.
Putting together an independent feature film takes time and money, and there are a lot of billable hours by high priced entertainment lawyers. As we mentioned at the beginning, we are just looking to defray some of the development costs as our film comes together.
Our team has invested a great amount of time, money and sweat for almost two years, but we're almost there. Here's how you can help.
We are offering our kickstarter backers a chance not only to participate in the early stages, but to demonstrate to the world (and our distributors and foreign sales agents) that a cool Western will fill theater seats.
We are asking for $7,800, with the rest covered by the producers. This money will help pay for our LLC costs, pay some of our lawyer fees, and pay various office costs as we close our funding and move towards production.
Here is your chance to be part of a real Western and to collect some cool prizes. By introducing our film to the Kickstarter community, we have a great opportunity to gauge public interest, get the word out about this project, and make some new friends. So saddle up and come join us, under the blue Wyoming Sky!
Note on rewards
Please note some of the prizes will only become available once principal photography is completed. For more details, please check out our FAQ's, or visit us online at:
Like William Goldman said, "Nobody knows anything" in the film business. We want you to know that Oceandoll Productions doesn't take no for an answer but sometimes, great obstacles happen to great people. We want our backers to know that backing this project in the development phase ensures that we will keep pushing to get our deal in place and our goal is to start shooting next summer. It could happen that we don't get fully funded for reasons that we will never understand. Our plan is to get fully funded and shoot this film. It's a little like tossing a dice: you hope the heavens are with you so that you can come out with the winning hand.
So if nothing is for sure in the film world, rest assured that Oceandoll Productions won't stop 'til they get to the top. However long it takes, we're making this movie and you're getting those gifts. Because the world needs an uplifting, positive Western and we want to follow our dreams all the way up to the Teton mountains. And we want to take you with us, to hear Lillian Smith's tale of how she became part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and how a woman overcame all obstacles to fulfill her father's last dying wishes.
This pledge will get you a thank you on our website & Facebook page, our cool Wyoming Sky sticker, the Buffalo Bill key chain, the magnet or coaster, AND a PDF of our script as soon as the film premiers so you can brag to your friends that you already know how it ends!
With this pledge you will get you a thank you on our website and Facebook page, our awesome Wyoming Sky sticker, the Buffalo Bill key chain, the coaster or magnet, a PDF of our script, AND a digital download of our movie after it is released. Now that is what we call a bang for your buck!
You'll get the thank you on our website & Facebook page, a sticker, a key chain, a coaster/magnet, a PDF of the script, a DVD copy of the film, AND a poster signed by the cast once the movie is complete. Bring it on!
The full package includes: a thank you on our website and facebook page, our awesome sticker, the key chain, a magnet or coaster, a PDF of the script, a DVD of the movie upon release, a signed poster by the cast, AND last but not least, a really awesome Wyoming Sky Crew t-shirt! Do you feel lucky?
Everything above which includes a thank you on our website, a cool sticker, a lovely key chain, a coaster/magnet, a PDF of our script once the movie hits theaters, a DVD in the mail, a poster signed by the cast, a Wyoming Sky Crew t-shirt AND 2 free movie tickets to go see Wyoming Sky when it comes out at the theatre of your choice. Save up for some popcorn, pardner!
This pledge includes: a thank you on our websites, a cool sticker, a super key chain, a magnet/coaster, a PDF of our script once it hits theatres, a DVD in the mail, a poster signed by the cast, a t-shirt, 2 free movie tickets AND a chance to visit the set for a day with a friend (transportation and lodging not included).
This'll get you a thank you on our websites, a cool sticker, a key chain, a magnet/coaster, a PDF of our script once it hits theatres, a DVD in the mail, a poster signed by the cast, a t-shirt, a one-day visit on the set with a friend, PLUS a headshot signed by your favorite actor AND 2 tickets to the premiere of Wyoming Sky! Pop out the bubbly because now you’re really part of the team!
The list is getting really long but here goes: a thank you on our websites; a cool sticker; a key chain; a magnet/coaster; a PDF of our script once it hits theatres; a DVD in the mail; a poster signed by the cast; a t-shirt, a one-day visit on the set with a friend, a headshot signed by your favorite actor PLUS 4 tickets to the premiere of Wyoming Sky! Bring the whole family!
Here we go!
- thank you on our website
- a cool sticker
- a lovely key chain
- a magnet/coaster
- a PDF of our script once it hits theatres
- a DVD in the mail
- a poster signed by the cast
- a Wyoming Sky Crew t-shirt
- a 1 day visit on the set with a friend
- a headshot signed by your favorite actor
- 4 tickets to the premiere
- PLUS you can attend the after party with the cast and crew (transportation and lodging not included)
-AND, for two lucky people, a vintage pair of classic cowboy boots selected by our staff (just submit your size).