The creators of Los Angeles based MewNowTV.com and Big Squid Productions announce their Indiegogo campaign launch for ZombieCON – feature film about cosplayers forced to evolve into heroes amidst an undead apocalyptic threat. More on why they’re crowdfunding here…
Film Courage: What inspired ZombieCON?
Kyle Valle: ZombieCON was inspired by a lifetime of experiences and childhood loves. My favorite cartoon/show/media in general growing up was Dragon Ball Z and from there I got into the entire world of anime. All pre-internet of course, so most of the videos were dubbed-over, sketchy looking VHS tapes via the local comic shop. But the need to marry that love and passion with filmmaking and bring new exciting characters who embodied the main principles we see in animes and manga into a world where anything can happen, the freedom to create, to craft an amazing legend around, behind and in front of these characters, in a way which really emphasizes the characters’ personal and teams, journey and growth. That was the ultimate inspiration and is what has been the driving force behind the consistent editing and re-writing by myself and my writing partner Manny Luke, after all it doesn’t cost a dime to make a great story!
Film Courage: What is your role in ZombieCON?
Kyle: Apart from bringing the idea forth and being one half of the writing team, I will be producing and most importantly directing this project; while also working as most of the crew myself due to our current budgetary squeeze. We are hopeful however that our IndieGOGO campaign will be successful and have paired with the team behind ‘Compas’, another current IndieGOGO project worthy of your time and support, in order to get some more hands behind the camera.
Post-production-wise I will be personally editing this film alongside Manny Luke. We will also be handling the post-production sound, color correct and VFX, while Rob Valle will be helping us to craft an original score and theme song.
Film Courage: How long have you been developing this story?
Kyle: This has been a passion project and a story; which, I have had lurking in the deep recess of my brain for the better part of a decade or so but the script as it stands now is something that’s been taking shape since early December 2015.
Top 4 Reasons I Bought A Blackmagic Production Camera For My Next Movie
by Kyle Valle
“This, coupled with the brutal experience we gained over the last year, fills me with confidence that we will A. hit many road blocks and B. find creative solutions, work through every single one of them and make a great film.”
Kyle Valle, Co-Writer/Director of ZombieCON
Film Courage: You’ve made many short films. How do you feel about taking on a feature film?
Kyle: The short films were great to learn the finer points of filming. However, they didn’t help much in terms of learning how to balance all the moving parts that come with larger, more expansive projects. But after creating all of the content for MewNowTV.com last year, pumping out over an hour and half of narrative work with ‘Class Act’ and ‘Journeyman’, under extremely constricting budgets, times and general personnel; alongside the hundred plus hours of other content, ‘Manny’s World of Color’, ‘Talking Points’, ‘The Joe Show’, ‘Tremen2’, ‘Jobless’, ‘Magickal World of Voxx’, ‘Tune Up’ and ‘Mission Mars #6’, I feel ready.
I am excited to get started, we have improved so much and have come so far as a team I know we are now ready. This, coupled with the brutal experience we gained over the last year, fills me with confidence that we will A. hit many road blocks and B. find creative solutions, work through every single one of them and make a great film.
Film Courage: Besides your role, which actor in in ZombieCON is going to blow people away?
Kyle: I actually will not be acting in ZombieCON and while I would love to, I want to ensure the vision is seen through to the end and the only way I can ensure that with such a small crew is by sticking behind the camera. Not that I’m needed in front of it, we are absolutely the luckiest production currently working right now because of the talent of our main cast who balance and compliment each other so well that it’s impossible to pick one out of the four. It would be like trying to differentiate between the ninja turtles! But I will break them down! First we have an extremely talented newcomer in Manny Luke playing the role of Rocket; simply put, the kid is brilliant, and has been able to learn not only his role but the world of acting methodology in a span of time that most work to perfect a single scene. Erin Áine, who is as talented as she is beautiful, is an incredibly talented veteran actress who has a passion and love for the genre and the subject matter; she had her character of Claire walking and talking in no time. She’s amazing. Punkie Johnson brings Punkie to life in the film, bringing straight fire to the screen, balanced by incredible humor. Punkie was a roommate of mine when I first arrived to LA; she is a hard worker who has been working the comedy game out here for a while and is now preforming on stage at the world famous Comedy Store and is absolutely killing it! Apart from comedy Punkie has always been an incredible actress. She brings Punkie the character to a whole new level, while Christian Casillas brings Javier or “Javi” to life. One thing you need to know about Christian: work ethic. When it comes to acting or the gym, Christian hits it hard and will work through anything until he reaches his goal – he’s a guy who’s been pushed down and pushed right back. Chris brings all that life and struggle to Javier, creating a character who only a truly masterful actor could portray. Simply put I’m the luckiest director on the planet! But we won’t stop running weekly rehearsals and preparing because we can always get better. Each one of the above actors are incredibly gifted but they’re even more hungry and none of us are going to be full until everyone else gets their fill of ZombieCON.
Film Courage: What has you most excited about the ZombieCON project?
Kyle: Being able to bring this story to life. This isn’t just a zombie movie, this is an entirely new world and bringing that and these characters into existence – that’s the most exciting part; because in so doing, it’s as if you’re able to live in one’s own dreams.
Film Courage: What’s the maximum number of zombies we will see in one scene?
Kyle: Totally dependent on the IndieGOGO! We have one sequence which takes place in the abandoned tunnels below Los Angeles – right now we’re all set to see 4 to 7 zombies but I would love see them swarming like the rats below the library in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.’ Simply put, the more support the more zombies!
Film Courage: ZombieCON sounds like a very big world that you have to create, so how many set pieces and locations are involved?
Kyle: We’re looking at a dozen or so locations currently but again everything is dependent on how much support we receive via the Indiegogo campaign. As it stands we will be building out the inner workings of the tunnel system in our studio by ourselves and will be using mainly locations volunteered by members of the team, but if we are able to hit our goal we have a few scouted locations which would allow for greater flexibility. In regards to set pieces we have our hands full. Since the film is ultimately about a group of cosplayers, a group of people who on the whole are arguably some of the best and most under-appreciated artists on the planet; able to sew, stitch, paint, fabricate, mold, shape and ostensibly create amazing works of art using any and everything at hand, mastering a boatload of skills and balancing it all on strict budgets. The props and set pieces needed are numerous, complex and incredibly time-consuming, including the thing I am most excited for/ has been my my biggest challenge to date: Building four custom sets of EVA foam armor for our heroes, all of which we need multiple copies including differing pieces for battle damage and so fourth to keep continuity. But we will all come together and make it happen! My mom has even started pitching in helping us sew original costumes.
Film Courage: Creatively, how are you build this world with your budget?
Kyle: I like to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Planning for the worst in this circumstance means that I had to budget out and figure out how to do the movie first with only the tools and cash available at the time. This meant strategically planning around locations we already had, building and creating all set pieces by ourselves and relying on our talented team to make it happen in front and behind the camera. Using this methodology we could conceivably make the film for $2,000 but we would have to sacrifice things that would appeal most to distributors and the “really, really fun stuff,” like more zombies, more killing of zombies, better make up, more locations etc. But the best way to build a world like this on a budget is to teach yourself how to do everything. If you can do everything then you don’t need to rely on the middleman and you’ll save a lot, especially when dealing with specialty items and skills. And most importantly a group of amazing friends, colleagues and partners who are willing to stick it out and work their butts off to see the project through. Our group, our indie film family and coming together as a unit to solve problems are the things that let us move past any obstacle.
Film Courage: You have a couple videos where you are building a prop gun for ZombieCON. Where did you learn to build props? Any tips on keeping props secure during transport?
Kyle: When I was about eight or so I got into a game called Warhammer 40,000; which, is ostensibly super advanced chess with pieces you build and paint yourself. The difference is that these pieces are hyper detailed, super small model miniatures which I had to paint to look lifelike. This taught me how to paint, dry brush, shade etc. from there all I had to due was scale it up, which was not without a lot of wasted time with tiny brushes. In regards to actually constructing the props, it was half intuitive, half picked up from online tutorials. I would definitely recommend Cosplay Chris, Punished Props, Evil Ted Smith and DemonWeasel1990 on Youtube, great channels.
In regards to transport always give yourself more room than you think you will need and box and protect anything fragile, no exceptions.
Film Courage: How are you going to costume design the cosplay characters and the zombies?
Kyle: I have been collecting costumes, clothing and wardrobe for the past few months, while consistently updating and refining the characters looks and costumes. As for our “zombies,” they will be completely different from anything you’ve seen before.
Film Courage: What character archetypes are within these zombies and cosplayers? Why did you choose that specific group to work with (or against) each other in the film? Which archetypes are great at causing friction amongst the others?
Kyle: Our main group is made up of four primary characters. First, Rocket our budding leader, struggling with the responsibility of leadership. Next is his best friend Punkie, the boastful warrior; Punkie is tough and bold both in humor and personality. The heart of the group is Claire, our care giver; Claire loves everyone, she’s fun and flirty and is a pure joy…unless you make her mad, don’t make her mad. Last but not least is Javier, the solitary warrior; strong of mind and body Javi is loyal and honest to a fault. Together they create an extremely dynamic group which is absolutely electrifying to watch. In this movie we’re pitting them against ‘zombies,’ or a physical manifestation of evil, forcing them to learn, grow and evolve as both individuals and a group. That singular pureness of evil was essential in acting as the catalyst to kick off our characters’ journey, as this movie is only the first chapter in what will be a 12-part series.
Film Courage: Which costumes cost more, the cosplay or zombie characters?
Kyle: The cosplayers. As any cosplayer will tell you, it’s an expensive hobby and a lot, I mean a lot, of time goes into it; that cost for material and labor eats up a lot of your budget, especially when you’re having to outfit 8 lead cosplayers in multiple costumes and a dozen or more extras.
CHECK OUT ZOMBIE CON!
Film Courage: At what point did you and any of the other Big Squid Production/MewNowTV members decide to create your own content?
Kyle: It’s been a building block of our business since day one but personally I believe we all started long before either Big Squid or MewNow and it was more something that just rolled over with us. In regards to this movie it’s important that we show the world who we are and what we are capable of. Last year we thought creating and producing 10 original series and creating a new platform would have been enough for us to establish a good bit of credibility; and, it did. But not to the degree that we wanted. What we heard over and over again in a number of ways was that we needed to make a movie to create a name for ourselves and it all clicked. We could make a movie. From that point onward we have been focused on continually evolving and upgrading mewnowtv.com and ‘ZombieCON.’ Our team is focused, driven and determined. I have complete faith that we will create something truly special in this movie.
Film Courage: What is your role at MewNowTV?
Kyle: I’m a director, a creator, a writer, an actor, a producer, an editor, a CEO, an advertiser, a salesman and a janitor! So if you need a video of someone running the operation of plunging a toilet captured in a creative way, you know who to call.
Film Courage: Can you take us through some of your duties? How glamorous or sometimes tedious (but necessary) is the work at MewNowTV?
Kyle: I run day-to-day operations in a business sense, handle the editing, directing, filming and writing* (when needed*) on, ‘Talking Points’, ‘Magickal World of Voxx’ and ‘Tremen2’. I direct and film ‘Manny’s World of Color’, which is written and edited by and stars Manny Luke. Recently I have been taking stabs at helping update and design certain portions of the site, but nearly all credit on that front goes to Navid Mayel, our extremely talented programmer and filmmaker who has recently gotten back into the talent management game with the opening of Vanshar Talent Management. I work to create ads and help coordinate our social media efforts but again 99.9% of all efforts on that front come from my talented fiance Erin Áine, who does an absolutely remarkable job of getting our name and message out there. Everything is tedious work but everything is fun. We work hard not because we have to but because we want to. We are the only people standing between us and success, and the harder we work, the closer get, so the harder we work.
Film Courage: How much are you attempting to raise on Indiegogo?
Kyle: Our current funding goal is $60,000 but ideally we hope to raise as much as possible.
Film Courage: Briefly, can you describe the allocation of costs that will go toward the campaign?
Kyle: We did all of the work for the campaign in house and are using our old action figures as perks so it hasn’t cost all that much; apart from a couple hundred dollars here and there in advertising, the cost is only time. The wardrobe and set pieces you see us working on or with in the teasers will ultimately be used in the feature; these videos are simply allowing us to get more use out of them and more importantly just make some awesome videos!
Film Courage: Did you research and/or donate to other campaigns beforehand? Were there any crowdfunding campaigns in particular that you felt were successfully managed?
Kyle: We researched a lot of campaigns but had trouble finding anything similar to our project as most were either over our budget, far below or they were wholly different categories like short films or docs. But we did find some really impressive pages, especially Code 8; which, was a project run by Robbie Armell on IndieGOGO. Very cool looking campaign, great art. We wanted to meet that level of quality and detail but focused on our theme – please let us know how we did! As for what’s successful it seems that the most well received and funded projects are those whose cast, crew, creator or subject matter already has a built-in audience; without that it simply seems up to pure determination, perseverance and level of preparation and preparedness. In regards to funding other projects we have helped out as many friends that we can but have been working so hard that we have not been able to really look through many of the newly active projects. Hopefully once we gain a little bit of traction, we’ll be able to check out and see what everyone’s up to currently, so many amazing projects and causes out there.
Film Courage: Why did you choose flexible funding?
Kyle: We chose to do flexible funding because from the onset we had at our disposal the means to make this movie in the absolute barest form; which, means if we fail to hit our goal we will still make the movie and fulfill our pledge to our backers who did believe in us!
Film Courage: How soon will production begin on ZombieCON?
Kyle: Pre-Production is already underway and we have weekly cast and production meetings to rehearse, discuss details and film promo material; which, has also proven to be a fun and refreshing way to play with the characters, the team and their overall dynamic, very cool stuff. Concerning principal photography, we are planning to get underway within the next month – again taking into consideration the performance of our IndieGOGO.
Film Courage: What sort of person is going to love ZombieCON?
Kyle: Anyone who’s ever played Zelda, watched Pokemon or even remotely enjoyed one zombie movie. If you’re a creative person who likes great character-driven stories with badass action, super powers, mystical items and epic quests to save the world, then I can assure you, you will love this world. This world of ZombieCON.
About Kyle Valle:
From setting New Jersey state records in swimming and serving as the captain of the football team to starting and managing an entire fraternity chapter as well as several businesses as just a freshman at the University of South Carolina, Kyle Valle has continued to expand his prowess as a leader across industries and state lines.
Since planting his feet firmly in Los Angeles in 2011, Kyle has produced, written, directed and acted in numerous festival short films and is ready to introduce to the world his brainchild – MewNowTV: a brand new interactive media site the likes of which the internet has yet to experience, with cinematic-level web series and immersive apps that will allow users to effect and interact with new media content like never before.
Kyle is the founder and creator behind MewNowTV, leading a creative team he has assembled of 9 young actors, writers, editors, bloggers and computer technicians called Big Squid Productions. Get ready to experience the ‘online theme park for your brain’ with 9 series and apps made by 9 people in 9 months premiering on MewNowTV.com 9/9.
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PRODUCT LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS VIDEO
Blackmagic Design Production Camera 4K
Adobe After Effects CC
Canon EOS C100 Mark II