The word alone evokes intense feelings among millions of Americans. Few groups claim stronger reactions among the general public. To most people, Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are a shadow culture, shrouded in secrecy – and conspiracy theories abound.
Around the world, Mormons are derided, admired, ridiculed, hated, loved, feared, and misunderstood. Yet The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints remains one of the fastest-growing religions on earth.
POLITICS, PROPAGANDA, AND POLYGAMY
Whatever the media, whatever the medium, Mormon controversy makes for great ratings. Shows like “Big Love”, “Sister Wives”, and “South Park” prove that Americans’ curiosity for this little-understood culture produces viewers in spades.
A Pew Forum Poll asked over 1,000 Americans what word best described Mormons. Is there any surprise that 'polygamy', 'family' and 'cult' were the top three answers?
More recently, the multiple Tony-award-winning musical The Book of Mormon is a sold-out Broadway sensation – proving that Mormon-centric stories are more than just a sideshow. Now with a lifelong Mormon potentially becoming the next President of the United States, the world is eager to get to know this unique and very American Faith and it’s people.
TRUTH IN FICTION
Creators Todd Bay and Chris Larsen wrote a television series called THIS IS THE PLACE with one question in mind: How do you boldly answer the world's intriguing and sensitive questions about Mormons without needless controversy or stereotypes?
That question is answered in THIS IS THE PLACE - where thought-provoking drama, real life characters and Hollywood-quality storytelling collide with the values, history, and traditions of the LDS Faithful in unprecedented fashion.
Surrounding Mormons, there’s been enough politics, propaganda, and polygamy surrounding the Mormons; it’s time to cut through to what is real with truth in fiction.
Vince Strauss, born and raised on the East Coast as an agnostic, has the curious perspective of one who's "never seen an actual Mormon in real life."
Due to devastating loss and heart-breaking divorce, Vince has taken his company's first available transfer - not caring about location, simply distance.
From the bottom of his driveway where he routinely smokes, Wallace, Colorado appears to be a typical American suburb, with a slight twist - it's proximity to a Mormon Temple has drawn a higher concentration of members of the LDS faith.
That same driveway also puts him directly across the street from something called a "stake center" that not only gives him a front row view to the 24/7 peculiar goings ons of Mormons, but a whole new slew of vocabulary; home teaching, endowments, disciplinary councils, and the term "Word of Wisdom".
Among his neighborhood - Young Bishop JOSHUA AVERY and his wife SARAH try to balance their religious obligations with family and career. EMILY CARLSON, a devout Mormon and returned missionary, deals with her non-Mormon husband's indifference in the church, a growing chasm created by her in their otherwise "perfect" marriage. MICHAEL WILKES and his wife LEAH struggle on his detective salary as pregnancy expands their already large family and threatens their marriage. Teenagers PORTER COLLINS and ERICA FOX explore a budding romance and powerful forces that young adulthood brings - all within the boundaries of their beliefs. Widowed only days after her wedding, the 25 year old stunning blonde bombshell, known only to Vince as SISTER THOMAS, is annoyingly protected by the married men of the neighborhood yet oddly avoided by potential Mormon suitors.
Mainstream Hollywood is just no longer capable of developing a project on the level of THIS IS THE PLACE. Tied-down by their cynicism, agendas, and shortsightedness, the mainstream production studios in Hollywood are too busy cranking-out re-hashed, re-made, regurgitated carbon copies of what has worked before. More reality shows with slight variations of identical formats, more duplicates of 'Law & Order' and 'CSI', more sitcoms starring the overweight schlub with his gorgeous, long-suffering wife and smart-mouth kids. When Hollywood does manage to deliver true unique quality on television, it tends to be either totally inappropriate for families ('Breaking Bad', 'Dexter', etc.) or it forces a tired progressive agenda ('Glee', 'The 'L' Word', etc.) on its viewers.
THE SERIES AND STRUCTURE...
Although THIS IS THE PLACE centers around a religious community, its goal is to tell compelling drama founded in the human experience - not promoting propagand for or against - but to tell honest, compassinate stories born from truth. The ability to boldly tackle intriguing and sensitive topics without needless controversy or stereotypes is what draws and keeps viewers tuning in, and has never been done before with this subject matter. Mormons around the world will be drawn to THIS IS THE PLACE, without feeling mocked or abused. At the same time, millions of regular people from all walks of life will peek inside something they've only heard of before. Each week, they will want to know more about the families that live in the Colorado town, without feeling preached and proselytized to.
The series will launch with a four-episode miniseries, written in a format familiar with ABC's 'Lost' - structured flashbacks and flash-forwards engage the audience by building deep relationships with each member of the ensemble cast; showing them a variety of perspectives on life - who they were, who they are, and what they will become.
We're going to be straight with you: There's quite a bit of conflicting expectation out there about how the drama in an LDS TV series should be handled.
The problem is most Mormons don't spend their lives teetering on the edge between absolute heaven and absolute hell. That doesn't make them uninteresting and doesn't mean they have no drama in their lives. But, we've been lead to believe that somehow an LDS film either needs to challenge your core beliefs (the so-called 'real') or confirm your core beliefs (the so-called 'ideal'). One or the other.
There's a manifest desire for so-called 'real characters' with 'real problems' and somehow there always seems to be an assumption that dealing with those 'real problems' necessitates pushing the audience into uncomfortable ground in terms of: 1. Keeping within a family-values standard, or 2. creating a sense of moral morass where 'evil' is rationalized.Once we decided the types of stories we were interested in telling, we set about designing a set of operational rules to keep ourselves on track. The goal of these rules is to safeguard the quality of the show by keeping ourselves clear of what we felt were the pitfalls of religious film in general. We encourage you to click on them to learn more of their importance to maintaining the integrity of THIS IS THE PLACE.
- Our story will never criticize the hierarchy of the Church.
- Our story will take place almost exclusively outside of the Church building.
- We are telling stories of redemption, not apostasy.
THE STRETCH GOAL...
We will create a great two-hour pilot on a $100k budget, but will have little-to-no-room for mistakes. Therefore our stretch goal is $250k. Should we raise $500k, we will shoot the first four episodes. Our justification?
If I went to a ward activity of yours and asked how many want a better Hollywood portrayal of our church, how many would raise their hands? I'm suspecting most would. Then why isn't there?
Simply put, Hollywood and the media make more money negatively portraying our church. That is unacceptable to us and it should be unacceptable to you. But it will continue. There's no funding, nor ever will be, for a positive or even neutral portrayal until a few of us say "Yes, it is unacceptable. Here's my $20. Make it." To equal Hollywood's televised quality, a budget of $250k is needed.
HOW IT WORKS
- Watch the trailer video (2:30 min.)
- Browse Pledge levels with corresponding Perks to the right ====>
- Click on desired Pledge amount, complete payment steps
- If goal is not met, you will not receive your Perks
- If goal is met, Indiegogo keeps 5% of Gross funds pledged
THIS IS THE PLACE has network-level production quality without talking-down to the audience - no axes to grind - just compelling real-life drama. Although real industry heavyweights are involved the series, it's developed and filmed outside of mainstream Hollywood - just outside Park City, in Heber City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival and forthcoming Raleigh Park City Motion Picture Studios. Some of the talent involved with the project include:
GORDON LONSDALE - Director of Photographer/Cinematography
Renown Director of Photography Lonsdale (Fox's 'BONES', 'THE BEST TWO YEARS') will bring his expertise in crafting a stunning cinematic look , comparable to the production quality of top network television and feature films. Lonsdale's extensive background in network TV and filmmaking provids substantial saving in budget costs without sacrificing the top-dollar Hollywood look THIS IS THE PLACE will deliever on.
DON BRACKEN - Props Master
Bracken is simply a Hollywood powerhouse (ABC's LOST, JJ ABRAMS & STEPHEN SPEILBERG's SUPER 8). To be able to secure professional talent from such hit shows as LOST and SUPER 8, really speaks to the quality and dedication of THIS IS THE PLACE team, and demonstrates the unlimited potential of the Project.
TODD BAY - Creator/Executive Producer
Bay entered filmmaking as the Vice President of Marketing for the Main Street Movie Company (GOD'S ARMY, BRIGHAM CITY, STATES OF GRACE), and has most recently helped conceive and garner state and local support for the development of a $50 million film studio expected to create nearly 30,000 jobs. BAY secured Raleigh Studios - the studio management company for such films as AVATAR 2 & 3, TRANSFORMERS, IRON MAN, etc. - to manage the studio which will be located in Park City, Utah - home of the Sundance Film Festival.
CHRIS LARSEN - Creator/Screenwriter
Although screenwriter Christopher Larsen was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, he has spent nearly his entire writing career overseas first in Rome, Italy, where he divided his time between a staff writing position at the Italian national film school, the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, under the direction of Giancarlo Giannini, and writing commissioned work for Oslo, Norway based production company eMotion a/s helmed by director Erik Gustavson. Larsen is currently living in South East Asia, where he is producing Laos' first supernatural thriller, Chanthaly. Larsen’s broad range of experience abroad has given him a rare expertise for developing entertainment for specialized markets, including the understanding of how to develop unique communities into a dedicated core audience, how to design engaging, character-centered drama suited for small-scale production, and how to effectively distribute unique content via internet.
BRAD JOHNSON - Producer
Brad's mother, Charlene Johnson, raised him on the sets of projects she was working on as Key Hairstylist (Mork & Mindy, Brady Bunch, Charlies Angels, etc). During the production of NEWSIES, Director Kenny Ortega (HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 1-4, THIS IS IT, HOCUS POCUS, etc.), and Brad started a relationship that has led Kenny to be a friend and mentor. While Brad still acts, he has been directing and producing independent projects for the last 10 years. Some of his more well know projects include: “Opening & Closing Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and Super Bowl Pre-Game and Half-time shows. He is most excited about his current projects, “$6 AND A BOTTLE OF WATER”, “THE RUN” (which both he and his brothers star in) and a “Jimmy Demers” music video starring Amy Smart (of Starsky and Hutch, Crank) and Cheryl Tiegs (Super Model). Brad has been brought on to be the head of Media, TV and Film for Fusion-io (APPLE FOUNDER Steve Wozniak’s new company). He Producing/Directing commercials and an 18 month web series that shoots around the world. He recently returned from producing a feature film in Ireland, PALADIN, that is set to be released this year and is in post-production on 2 features that he starred in (SCENTS AND SENSIBILITY and THE MILL).
DENVER ROBBINS - Producer
Robbins has been producing film and other media projects for over 16 years. Although he has consistently worked on bigger films (LONE RANGER, THE STAND, INVASION OF PRIVACY), his bread and butter has always been commercials, music videos, industrials, rentals and clients here in Utah. Together With Lauren T. Hart they run Dark Sun Studios in Ogden, Utah - complete with a 5 ton grip and lighting package housed in a 24 foot box truck, camera packages including Red, BlackMagic, and Canon DSLR, and many extras that are not typically available in the standard packages. Because Robbins is synonymous with quality production in the intermountain region, it only makes sense for THIS IS THE PLACE to partner with Denver.
HARLEY CLOVIS - Producer/Marketing Director
Harley has worked primarily in Targeted Media Advertising for Cox Communications, Landmark Group, and Dominion Enterprises. His expertise lies in creativity and out-of-the-box ideas; finding ways to deliver tangible results at a lower cost. As the owner of MTM Media LLC., Harley focuses on developing Partnerships between businesses with a genuine “win-win” strategy; to deliver solid returns of investment by working together to reach the end user. Harley lives and works in Los Angeles.
HENRY FERREYRA - Executive Producer/Technology Director
Ferreyra directs the 2GO Entertainment marketing division at Simplicity Group. 2GO Entertainment is a company that provides quality video downloads and service since 2006. Henry’s vision and passion for this Project—along with his background in web design, video download solutions, and next-generation distribution—drives THIS IS THE PLACE to the leading-edge of entertainment marketing and distribution