An "unreliable" documentary about modern day fairies (and other monsters) living in plain sight.

Prologue...SUPPORT THE VFX INDUSTRY and the proper use of CGI!

OK, before we get into what this film is, I want to especially encourage my fellow VFX professionals, aspiring VFX professionals, and fans of VFX and the proper use of CGI to get behind this project by contributing a little but especially by sharing it with as many people and in as many VFX friendly forums as you can think of.

We don't want to make a film that is pro-CGI or anti-practical effects.  We want to make a film that is anti-anti-CGI.  If we can get this film made, we will make it a platform from which to help spread the word about the issues the VFX industry is facing.

Now, read on...

In short...

Hello!  We are brothers Sean and Tim Cunningham.  We share a deep passion for films and filmmaking that took us to Hollywood where we have spent the past 35+ combined years working on high-end visual effects (VFX) at some of the industry's leading facilities such as Digital Domain, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Rhythm & Hues Studios.  During that span we've notched more than 60 feature credits and contributed work to 9 films receiving VFX Academy Award nominations.

 While helping others tell their stories with cool visuals can be fun, our passion for filmmaking compels us to do more.  We are reaching out today to share our passion with the IndieGoGo community and beyond to raise $35K to produce a unique independent feature film entitled Preternatural, an unreliable documentary about fairies and other monsters.

Preternatural will be a classic creature feature disguised as a documentary and aims to put the "terror" back into fairy folklore.  If you are a fan of horror films, monsters, and science fiction, then read on...

We have a stack of stories that we would like...no, that we need to tell, and your contribution or your sharing of this campaign with others who might contribute will go a long way in helping us to realize that goal.

In addition to our genuine and eternal gratitude, we are offering some exciting "perks" to try and help make a contribution worth your while including very cool, limited edition figurines of our creatures, so please, for the love of movies have a look around, and PLEASE pass this along...

How much do we need and where will the money go?

Yes, $35K is a lot of money, but not when it comes to producing a feature film.  In our experience producing VFX for big budget Hollywood movies, one shot can cost you $100K...or more.  In truth, the $35K we are looking to raise will not cover the complete budget for the project, but will be used to fully fund the pre-production, production, and some marketing of the film.  Primarily, the money raised here will pay for the design of our creatures, shooting our live action plates, paying our actors and crew, feeding them...paying for locations, insurance, and renting equipment.  It will also go toward editing our rough cut and putting together marketing materials needed to raise the remainder of our post-production budget.

Since this is a creature film, most of the post-production budget will go toward the completion of our visual effects.  That's where our VFX experience comes into play.  If push comes to shove, we can handle much of the post ourselves over time, but in order to finish the film in a timely manner, we'll need some help...and that costs money.  Luckily, we have a lot of talented friends willing to lend a hand.  Another couple of areas that cost money are sound and music.  Both of these elements will be critical to the success of the project both artistically and financially.  We cannot skimp here.

The ideal situation is that we are able to raise the complete $35K here, but since this is a flexible funding campaign, any money we are able to raise will go toward shooting what we can of the film as a means to raise the remaining budget.

Once a film is completed, there are still costs to account for.  Most independent films don't get that far, but in order to distribute a film, you have to put a package of deliverables together.  The required deliverables vary from territory to territory, and they can cost thousands of dollars...It will cost us nearly $10K just for lab costs to QC our master and generate dubs of various flavors, secure an errors and omissions insurance policy, and submit to the MPAA for rating.  Without some, or all of these things, you cannot distribute your film. 

Why should someone donate to this project?

Well, that's a good question.  Personally, I feel that we are going to be telling a great story in an interesting way.  If that is something you would like to be a part of then join us and contribute.

We do not have a big name attached to this project, and we do not have the means to finance this story through traditional methods.  It's just not that type of film, and even though we have been working in the film industry for several years, those doors are just not open to visual effects guys.  Even though Hollywood makes billions on the work we (the VFX community) do for their tent pole films, VFX studios and artists continue to be marginalized and treated like simple vendors and not like creative collaborators.

You may have watched this year's Academy Awards.  Well, I worked for Rhythm & Hues Studios until February of this year, the company that shared in the Academy Award win for Best VFX for LIFE of PI.  If you watched, you may also remember that VFX was the only group that had their speech cut off while the cinematographer and director of the film were allowed to ramble on about their wins and thank everyone except the folks most responsible for the amazing visuals - the VFX guys that made a film previously described as "unmakeable" a reality and a huge critical and financial success worldwide.  Heck, Ang Lee even thanked the Chinese water stage crew.  I'm sure they worked hard, but much of their effort was replaced with CG water.  I say I worked for R&H, because shortly after the Academy Awards, the company declared bankruptcy and was forced to lay off about 300 people from their Los Angeles office because Warner Brothers didn't want to back the studio up and allow them to complete 4 shows already in progress.  Many of the folks who lost their jobs are still looking for work.  Ang Lee was aware of R&H's situation the night of the awards which made their omission from his speech all the more insulting.  The big studios don't respect VFX studios as the talented collaborators they should despite the money they make off of their efforts.  Instead, they have fostered an environment where the domestic facilities ravenously fight against each other for contracts just to keep the power on.  On top of that, the big studios have turned to overseas facilities where they can get similar work for less driving the overall price point down and destroying domestic facilities' ability to make any sort of profit.  The result is an industry where talented and experienced VFX professionals must be willing to work longer hours for less pay and travel the world following the big movie studios' path of exploitation.

I have a family, and I'm through playing their game.  Backing Preternatural is a small step in the direction of creating a game of our own where everyone contributing to the telling of a compelling story is treated with the respect they deserve.

Increasingly, there are projects being financed through crowd funding that have other options and have even turned down those options to ask you for money - millionaires asking you to help them make their pet projects.  That is not the case here.  We are truly independent filmmakers who have no other options and truly need the help of independent film fans to make a unique movie.

We are offering some fun "perks" for contributing including t-shirts, limited edition posters, signed DVDs, copies of the score, one of a kind props, access to exclusive online content, screen credits (for all contributors), and tickets to the cast and crew screening among other things.

Still interested?  Here's a little more info...

We have been describing Preternatural as an unreliable documentary about modern day fairies living amongst us in plain sight.  Ok, so now you are probably asking one of two questions...or both:

  • What the heck is an "unreliable documentary"?
  • Fairies?

But maybe not in that order...

We are describing our approach as unreliable documentary, while others will undoubtedly describe it as a found footage film.  That's fine, because no matter how you describe it when done well, the illusion created that the extraordinary events playing out on screen are real makes for a unique and thrilling filmgoing experience.  We will be using the documentary device much more in the spirit of The Troll Hunter and Incident at Loch Ness.  While neither unreliable documentaries nor found footage, we also like and will be influenced by the naturalistic style of Monsters and District 9.

It's hard to use the word fairy without thinking of Tinker Bell...Thanks, Walt.  Well, that's not what we mean when we say fairy.  This film will be a monster movie and a horror movie, and when we say fairies we are referring to the pre-Victorian, eat your face type of creatures that include changelings, shape shifters, undines, hags, "weres", trolls, ogres, and beasties much, much worse.

VFX is cool, but that doesn't mean you can make a movie...

True, although in recent years, there have been more and more former VFX folks making the jump to filmmaker: Eric Brevig, Scott Stewart, Tim Miller, Gareth Edwards, Andrew Adamson, and Neill Blomkamp just to name a few.  But we are not expecting anyone to trust us just because these guys have done it.  You will be happy to know that this will not be our first feature either...

While our passion for film and filmmaking runs deep, our professional experiences have left us with little love for Hollywood and Hollywood types.  Working on Hollywood films has taught us many things, though, not the least of which is that we would be much happier using our skills to tell our own stories.  In 2001, we did just that and produced the micro-budget indie feature Xtracurricular.  This film was successful in many respects.  First of all, we completed it, which in the mico-budget indie world is an achievement all it's own, but it also played a few festivals, landed international distribution, and made it's money back.  The primary success of this film, though, was that it confirmed for us that we could do it.  We could make movies, too.


Since we were handling so much of Xtracurricular ourselves, it took us a while to complete nights and weekends when we were not toiling away at our day jobs working on other peoples' films.  And because Xtracurricular did not lead immediately to a second feature we got stuck toiling away at our day jobs working on other peoples' films...for 10 years.  It's not a bad gig, but we again eventually got fed up enough to walk away long enough to make a second film. 

In 2010 we went the horror route and produced Sick Boy for less than a third the budget and in less than a third the time of Xtracurricular.  Despite the film's smaller scale all around, the end result was a much more polished product that has been much better received.  The speed at which we were able to move on Sick Boy while maintaining quality was a direct result of our having done it before and the 10 extra years spent in the trenches learning our craft.  Sick Boy, too, played a few festivals and landed international distribution.  It was recently released on video in the US in October 2012.


Preternatural will be our third feature and will benefit from our collective experience both in the VFX industry as well as our two previous indie outings.  But it will be different in two significant ways:

  • We will be exploiting our VFX backgrounds more than ever before.
  • For the first time, we will be starting a project with a strategic partner in distribution already in place.
Xtracurricular had a bit of VFX in it, but it took us two years to complete the post production.  Sick Boy had very little obvious VFX in it, because we could not allow that project to go on for two years in post.  But when people hear that a couple of VFX guys are making a movie, they expect to see some cool VFX...For Preternatural, we're pulling out all the VFX stops and will be giving folks what they want - plenty of "holy sh#t" moments.

Our first two films were made in a vacuum, meaning we just went out and made a movie, and then crossed our fingers that we would find a sales representative willing to shop the project around at various film markets in order to land distribution.  Fortunately, both cases worked out in our favor, but that is rare.  This time, Raven Banner Entertainment will be with us from the beginning and will start the task of locating the best distribution deal they can as soon the film is ready.

Other ways you can help...

We understand that money does not grow on trees, or we wouldn't be here.  If you are not in a position to contribute monetarily, you can still be a huge help by simply passing this campaign along to someone you might know who loves film and might find it interesting.  Use the IndieGoGo tools and share this campaign on your Facebook or Twitter and help us reach our goal.

We are very excited about this project and know that it will be a lot of fun once it's completed.  We just need a little help, so let's go make a movie.

Thank you!

Team on This Campaign: