One week ago director Scooter Corkle and I launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund our debut feature film based on the critically acclaimed short, Chloe and Attie. Within 6 days we collected 20% of our 24K development budget which clearly showed us a demand for the product and an audience that’s willing to back us. Our project status is set at healthy…for now.
Chloe and Attie began as a vehicle to get Scooter Corkle’s directing career in motion. He and I have worked on several projects together but never in the capacity of a Producer and Director relationship. We each wanted to make our first feature film but, more importantly (being best friends since film school), we wanted to make it together. We didn’t know what kind of film we wanted to make, but we knew it was going to be weird and wonderful..
“We knew from past years that many of the entries were going to be comedic gore-baths, which are often entertaining, but the only way we were going to stick out was to try something different
and take a chance.”
Bloodshots, a 48-Hour Horror Filmmaking Challenge, came just around the time when we were discussing this. I wanted to do a feature right off the bat with Scooter, but he wanted to do a short to test his chops. As usual, I trusted him and we entered into the competition not knowing what we were getting ourselves into, but hoping for a very organic story to sprout from this challenge. Scooter was adamant about doing an unorthodox horror that drew inspiration from Asian cinema – slow, silent and creepy. We knew from past years that many of the entries were going to be comedic gore-baths, which are often entertaining, but the only way we were going to stick out was to try something different and take a chance. Before we received our Bloodshots package of prop, line and sub-genre that we needed to incorporate into the 7 minute film, we put together a skeleton crew of 11 and we were introduced to two actresses –– Identical 60 year old twins Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins. Once we saw what they looked like (i.e. creepy) our gut told us to cast them right away without knowing what our script was going to be about. We knew that these two were going to be the ‘brand’ of the film, respectively.
“Jacqueline is deathly afraid of water but was determined to do the scene and we proceeded as her sister Joyce worriedly held my hand while looking on from behind the camera.”
The time came to receive our package and our jaws dropped when we read what sub-genre we needed to work into our story – twisted siblings. It was evident that our stars were aligned and Scooter was going to get the film he wanted to make. In the next 48 hours and with the help of the most dedicated and talented crew I have ever worked with, we wrote, shot, edited and posted the film. From this brief experience, I gained two of my fondest film making memories. I remember watching it with an audience for the first time. The theatre was so silent and encapsulated during the screening that one could hear a pin drop. From that day forward, I became addicted to the connection we made with the audience and I knew that Scooter had succeeded in accomplishing a stand-out performance. The second vivid memory was shooting a scene where one of the twins, Jacqueline, ends up underwater. Jacqueline is deathly afraid of water but was determined to do the scene and we proceeded as her sister Joyce worriedly held my hand while looking on from behind the camera. Then Scooter softly spoke “action” and Jacqueline went under. Joyce’s grip on my hand tightened and when I looked over at her, I saw that her eyes were filled with tears and she was in agonizing emotional pain. Joyce really felt that she was losing her sister. At that same moment I realized that this “horror” story was also a love story about the unconditional bond between two sisters. The twins were amazing actresses but more than anything, amazing human beings. After 48 hours, Scooter and I fell in love with the twins and minutes after the screening we missed them already. We decided the world needed to experience these twins and the best way to do that was a feature film.
Right around the same time we were promoting the short and getting it seen at festivals like CFC Worldwide, Toronto After Dark, Encounters and Dead By Dawn, Scooter and I were working for a start-up company called Biracy.com (which later became SoKap), Biracy was a platform that allowed filmmakers to engage with their audience anywhere from development to distribution. And what I mean by Distribution, and this is what made this idea entirely unique, is that fans could actually buy the exclusive rights to screen a film in their chosen territory for a fee thus eliminating the middleman completely. Interesting idea, right? When we were developing the site, we knew there was a potentially significant problem for independent filmmakers – piracy. Sure, a film like Avatar wouldn’t feel the beating from a bit torrent site, but small guys like us and colleagues of ours could. How were we ever going to make a living in a market where everything has become “free”? It really made me stop in my tracks and rethink how I was going to make the feature film version of Chloe and Attie. To his credit, Dave Geertz, founder of Biracy and SoKap, wanted to make a platform that basically turned the pirate into the buyer. If you can’t beat them, create a system where they can participate and benefit in a film’s success rather than destroy it. Whether it be by promoting the DVD and earning revenue from referrals (much like Amazon’s referral system) or purchasing the license to Nelson, British Columbia and screening it there at your local theatre.
It didn’t end up working out for Scooter and I at Biracy but we learned some valuable lessons in communicating with your audience, getting them engaged in the product and not viewing them as just a bum in the seat of a theatre. The audience was more powerful than I’d realized and I was excited to create a solid product and platform for them to engage in. How I’m going to do that is in the works, but my mission is to create a platform that’s going to revolutionize the way we watch movies and interact with content created by filmmakers, whether it be the entire feature film, behind the scenes, concept artwork or communication with the cast and directors..
I currently run a small boutique creative firm called Domogeneous and i’d like to apply what i’ve learned from designing and developing sites, ad campaigns and brands to the feature film world – but the only way that is going to work is if the product is actually good. Otherwise, there’ll be no one to interact with the film and I’ll be stuck with a platform without any users. Chloe and Attie needs to be the guinea pig, but on an insane amount of steroids.
Our Kickstarter campaign is just the beginning. Regardless of how much money we raise, I find more value in the awareness and following that we’ve created and I’m encouraged to find ways to keep everyone interested before, during and after the film is . We hope you can continue following us into the journey of our first feature film. Thank you for patiently reading my thoughts and I hope to update you more a long the way. Feel free to poke some holes in my ideas; I’d love to hear what I could improve. Together we will try and make the best film possible. Until next time…
Here’s a slice of the plan for next year that will be improved/altered along the way:
– Build a viewership using our Kickstarter campaign for the first 30 days.
– After the campaign, build a stronger audience using newsletter sign-ups on our site and through our Facebook page.
– Create a ‘voice’ or ‘brand’ for the project using Scooter Corkle on Twitter
– Create an emotional bond with our audience by featuring the Twins in weekly video updates on the ‘Making Of’.
– Hire a Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD) to take on all duties of interaction with audience so I can focus on the film.
– Design, develop and launch the platform, transitioning all users to the new site where they can engage with the filmmakers and interact with content uploaded to the site.
– Finish an amazing screenplay and raise the rest of the funds privately to create the film in 2012.
– Take the film on the festival circuit, continue building hype and audience.
– Plan for an online launch on the same platform where users can PPV the film?
– Use the already built-in audience to market the release of the film theatrically.
Here’s what we’ve done so far, which will all hopefully end up being a unified platform in the future:
Daniel started off in the industry merging his passions of art and storytelling as a designer, and later Creative Director/Producer at creative agency Domogeneous. He has produced numerous award winning short films and has just recently moved into feature film territory with his latest project based on the 8 minute short film entitled “Chloe and Attie.” The short has screened in 5 continents, won jury prize for best film at the Bloodshots Film Festival and had the honor to screen at Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Dead By Dawn, Worldwide Short Film Festival, Vancouver and Encounters, to name a few. Little White Lies Magazine in the UK praised the debut film from director Scooter Corkle citing “Not since The Shining has there been a more disturbing set of twins.