ONLY 3 WEEKS LEFTto run on the campaign so we’ve decide to give it a boost with 4 brand new ‘affordable' perks.
$15 (that’s only £9.38p) - gets an invitation to a social event at Side Cinema on Thursday 29th Nov at 7.30 pm to meet with some of the cast and the Amber production team. Have a drink, see some exclusive footage from the development of the film. Hear some live music by some of the band and watch the newly mastered version of ‘The Filleting Machine’ by Tom Hadaway made by Amber in 1981
$25 (that’s £15.64p) gets a ‘Girl on a Spacehopper” signed by Sirkka- Liisa Konttinen ( http://shop.amber-online.com/products/girl-on-a-spacehopper-poster-sirkka-liisa-konttinen)
$25 gets any poster from the Side collection (subject to availability) with a signed thankyou from the Amber production team ( http://shop.amber-online.com/collections/posters-postcards)
$35 gets a signed copy of the book ‘Step by Step’ by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen(http://shop.amber-online.com/products/sirkka-liisa-konttinen-step-by-step)
How can you resist….. DONATE NOW !
WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP
Who are we?
Amber is a collective of filmmakers and photographers. We’ve been based in the North East of England for the last 40 years, working with communities and creating stories around the experience of ordinary people. Over this period we’ve created an almost unbroken narrative, which reflects the impact on peoples lives of the various social and economic changes - and the physical changes of the landscape in which they live. This body of work has been seen all over the world. It’s been broadcast in many countries, won many awards, and just recently we’ve been honoured by UNESCO in having our work inscribed in the UK Memory of the World register.
For more see http://www.amber-online.com
or read our film blog http://www.amber-online.com/sections/amber-film...
To watch extracts from early Amber documentaries go to http://vimeo.com/44255926
To watch later productions and extracts from Amber feature films go to
What is the project?
The project that has been boiling away in the Amber pot for the last 3 years is a collaboration between us and a remarkable and diverse group of people who are now living in Newcastle upon Tyne. What has emerged is a love story set against the background of a rapidly changing Tyneside. It is also the story of a band.
A chance meeting between Shar, a Geordie single mother and would be singer, and Jamal, a Sudanese refugee rapper and drummer, sets away a chain of events that changes both their lives and the lives of those around them. In the last 10 years, Newcastle has experienced a very rapid transformation from a predominantly white working class culture to a place of many cultures. ‘Between the Mud and the Farthest Star’ is a story that reflects both the hopes and tensions inherent in a community in transition.
From a broken working class background, Shar knows she’s a failure, doesn’t know how to be a mother and wants to be a singer. Jamal was a singer in Sudan, but after seven years in asylum-seeking Limbo would consider doing anything to move on. Meanwhile, he sings and plays in Jo’s Utopian band of local and refugee musicians. And Jo has fallen for him. When Jamal rescues Shar from a violent boyfriend, she’s drawn into the band’s world and a host of new and difficult choices.
It’s contemporary Tyneside: industry has gone, regeneration’s fading, asylum-seeker dispersal is changing its cultural face and the English Defence League are claiming the streets for England’s flag. Shar builds up the courage to come to the band rehearsals and she’s a fish out of water, but they unlock something: maybe there’s a world beyond hostel accommodation, an ex who won’t let go and a son she can’t cuddle. She’s a good plant in bad soil, Jamal tells himself and he just wants to help her. But Shar makes him laugh, maybe even makes him feel less angry. Jo looks on with alarm and the band’s harmonies begin to falter.
Shar must deal with a grandmother not prepared to forgive her many past misdeeds, a father whose born-again Christianity absolves him of responsibility for his, an ex who isn’t prepared to let her move on and a best friend whose casual racism is becoming more formal. She wants her 5 year old son Carl to have some stability in his life, but she needs to learn how to be a mother. More than anything, she wants to be a singer, but first she needs to overcome her sense of failure.
Jamal must deal with the vulnerabilities of the asylum-seeker economy, the arbitrary decisions of the UK Border Agency, his burning anger. When he rescues Shar from her boyfriend’s aggressive attempt at getting her back, he begins to draw her into a new world of opportunity. As Jo struggles with her jealousy, the harmonious utopianism of the band begins to crumble and Jamal must find a way of earning the love and respect of a woman who does not love and respect herself...
The film’s narrative has been developed out of documentary footage as well as out of the stories and improvisations of a cast who are drawing extensively on their own experiences.
Where have we got to?
The feature length screenplay has been devised together with the people on whose lives the characters are based and who will themselves play the lead roles. It is now ready to go into production. But, although we have funders keen to back the project we still need to raise 50% of the budget. That’s where you come in. If we can raise $30,000 we can shoot the first 10 minutes of the film. This will play into the total budget and convince other funders that there is a real interest out there in the film happening. The footage you see in the video was shot as part of the development process, but we need a more polished piece of work to show potential funders. We will also release the first 10 minutes as a special preview episode online, available only to those who have funded us. If we raise our target we will start shooting in Newcastle in early winter and the first episode will be ready to take round the film markets in the new year. The money we raise will be spent on locations, sets and costumes, cast and crew, catering, equipment hire, transport, post production and insurance.
We have chosen a flexible campaign because, although we have a target of $30,000 to make the first episode of about 10-15 minutes, if we raised more, we could shoot more. Equally, if we didn’t make the target, we could still shoot something, maybe a 5 minute teaser, which will still be useful to raise other money. OR, and we’re dreaming now, if we raised $240,000 we would have enough, with the funding which is already close to being secured, to complete THE WHOLE THING!
Why are we crowdfunding?
There are so many reasons why Amber finds it difficult to get money for it’s projects. It’s partly that we don’t fit. We’re a collective and are committed to an egalitarian approach both in terms of creative input and who takes credit. We don’t work with stars. We work with non-actors, because they bring a real experience of life to their performances. But in a media world that is dominated by celebrities and an increasingly commercial focus, this approach becomes problematic. Amber projects take a very long time to gestate and equally have a long life and a responsibility to the community from which they are drawn. All of this is quite hard sometimes to sell. To be honest it’s always been that way, but it’s getting harder.
We know we have a fan base out there and that there are many people who are sympathetic to our approach. So we decided, instead of sitting on our hands and waiting for the funders to realise that too, we would launch this campaign to test the water publicly. We are committed to making this film, no matter what, even if it takes us another 3 years, but we cannot take our collaborators for granted. We need to do something NOW, and we need to give something back to those who have given us their time and access to their lives.
We know that this film is going to be something special, but we need your help to prove that.
What else you can do?
If you feel you can help fund this project, that's great, but you could also help by SPREADING THE WORD. Link to our campaign on Facebook or Twitter. The more you share this page via Indiegogo, the more Indiegogo will help promote the project.
We are also interested in your feedback. This is an ongoing project and we would love to hear people’s responses to the first episode.
When the film is finally finished you could also help by hosting a screening (maybe with a live band performance) in your area. We want this to be a celebratory experience. Just as the film brings together cultures that would not normally coexist in one space, we would like community screenings of the film to bring people together and we will be organising a band tour to coincide with the launch of the film.
Between the Mud and the Farthest Star has been devised collectively by the Amber Production Team and the performers.
Key production roles:
Graeme Rigby (writer) has written: novels - The Black Cook’s Historian (Constable, 1992); music theatre - Jungle Book (Cleveland Theatre 1987, Unicorn Theatre 1989), O’er The Hills (Northumberland Theatre 1988); Big People from Outer Space (Big People 1996); radio - Rigby’s Red Herrings (BBC Radio 4, 2000); The Legend of Los Trombastardos (2 series, BBC Radio 4, 2000 & 2001); poetry - Dreaming North (Portcullis, 1986), 50 Botanical Travellers (Portcullis, 1990); Documentary - Askam & Skinningrove, Durham Coalfield, Coke to Coke (Side Gallery, 1982, 1983, 1989) Peaceable Kingdoms (Newcastle City Council, 1992). Since joining Amber in 1999, the films he has worked on include: Shooting Magpies (2005), The Bamboozler (2007), The Pursuit of Happiness (2008)
Ellin Hare (director) co-wrote and edited the feature film Acceptable Levels with Frontroom Productions before joining Amber Films in 1983. She has been editor on all of Amber’s feature films and several documentaries and co-directed T Dan Smith(1987). She has also worked as producer on several Amber productions. She directed three of Amber’s feature films, Dream On(1991) The Scar (1997) andLike Father(2001). All have won multiple awards including Prix Europa and Prix Futura for Dream On and Prix Europa for The Scar. All have been screened on BBC or Channel 4 and Arte or ZDF as well as cinemas worldwide.
Peter Roberts (cinematographer) DP on all Amber productions to date (except High Row) and on some worked as editor and/or director. e.g. Laurie, Launch, Keeping Time, Byker, Letters to Katja, The Writing in the Sand, Double Vision and Today I’m with You. From 1982 -2012 he has worked exclusively on Amber enterprises, like all Amber members in a wide variety of roles, but especially in the area of dramatic feature films.
Magnus Dennisson (producer) who set up ‘Meerkat Films’ with partner Katja Roberts in 2005. Over the last 7 years Magnus has produced several documentaries for broadcast including Crossing Hell’s Mouth a 49 min one-off for BBC Scotland and The Camels that Race currently being distributed by National Geographic. He has produced the short drama Because I Like You in 2007 and The Ball in 2010 which has won a number of awards at festivals around the world and was longlisted for a Bafta in 2012. He is currently developing a slate of feature films including the black comedy Callcentre, the psychological thriller Above Time.
Katja Roberts (co-director) who set up Meerkat Films with Magnus and directed all their films to date (see above).
Other Members of the Amber Team are Bella Adam, Bryan Dixon, Sirkka -Liisa Konttinen, Kerry Lowes, Annie Robson and Peter Scott
Lead acting roles:
Krystal Spencer (Shar) was identified as a potential collaborator in the making of Amber’s documentary Today I’m With You, which explored the Byker Wall Estate, its indigenous and its new asylum seeking communities. From one of Byker’s extended working class families, her teenage years were spent mostly in care and the education system passed her by. In her adult life she has experienced the homelessness and hostel accommodation pictured in the film’s narrative, as she has rebuilt her life, trying to be a good mother to the son she abandoned in his early years. Driven in her desire to be a singer, her vocal and songwriting talents were a revelation in the development process. She has a powerful and husky R&B voice, which, through the workshops, rehearsals and recordings for the film, has begun to attract the attentions of a number of producers.
Abdulrahman Abuzayd (Jamal) was an asylum seeker when Amber first worked with him on the documentary We are all Survivors http://www.sidetv.net/channel1 about Crossings, the community music project on which the band in the film is based. The years of asylum-seeking limbo were both psychologically and practically difficult, but after six years he has finally been granted refugee status in the UK. A Sudanese singer and percussionist, he was brought up in Khartoum from an African/Arab-speaking/Muslim family background in Darfur and the now-seceded South. A charismatic performer, his material ranges from traditional Sudanese comic storytelling songs to his own Arabic raps.
Anisa George (Jo) is from the USA, an actress and filmmaker who came to work with Amber in 2007 and helped with the making of Today I’m With You. In its work with non-professional actors, Amber has often used professionals in certain key roles, their input raising the bar and offering both license and confidence to their fellow performers. Anisa George took the role of Emma in Jonathan Demme’s 2008 ensemble drama Rachel Getting Married http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1084950/Having travelled and studied in both Yemen and Iran, she speaks both Arabic and Farsi. She is a strong singer and tabla player. Language is an important element in the film and her ability to speak Arabic opens up a key textural quality, allowing a greater richness in the portrayal of the lives concerned. She has her own film and theatre company in Philadelphia, USA www.penndixieproductions.org
Other collaborators in the development group include: Fred Phethean (Danny), a rapper and community musician with political commitments ranging from anti-facism, Palestine and no-borders/anti-deportation campaigning; Chantelle Warden (Nandi), a mixed race Zimbabwean refugee who has settled in Newcastle and who, like Fred, is a member of Crossings, the original for the film’s band; Gwan Mohammed (Shirwan), a Syrian-Kurdish asylum seeker and a great player of the saz – a small lute-like instrument; Jessica Johnson (Jazz), a Tyneside actress who comes from a very similar background to that of Krystal.