UPDATE: It's just a few days until the end of the campaign, and as it becomes clear that we won't reach our full goal, we just wanted to let everyone know that we will absolutely be finishing the film. We all still believe very strongly in the project, so we'll be continuing production whenever our crew has time to spare between paying gigs. Also, unlike Kickstarter, we get to keep whatever we raise, so we'll cherry pick the areas where the IndieGoGo funds will do the most good and put them towards that. What we've raised so far will help immensely towards making the film better and getting it done in a reasonable time, so thank you so much for supporting this project! Also, all of the perks will still be honored. The masterclass will still be happening in full. The DVDs and behind the scenes content will still be delivered. The only thing that will change is that it will take a little longer to finish the film, so we'll keep everyone updated on our progress and let you know when you can expect your perks to arrive.
Thank you again for your support and generosity, and don't stop spreading the word, as every little bit we can raise in these last few days will help us get the film across the finish line!
About the Film
The OceanMaker is a 9-minute animated short film that takes place after Earth's oceans have disappeared. It tells the tale of one courageous pilot who fights against vicious sky pirates for control of the last remaining source of water: the clouds.
From a visual standpoint, we're steering away from the air pirates often found in steampunk and going straight-up "Mad Max" in the sky. The film is packed with old, beat-up planes that have been cobbled together from spare parts found in airplane graveyards.
Tonally, The OceanMaker is filled with exciting action, but the ending is emotional and powerful in a way that even feature-length films rarely achieve. The film also contains no dialogue, which means that the visuals and soundtrack need to be top notch in order to tell this story properly.
Finally, this film is unique in that it's a complete story which stands on its own as a self-contained short film, but it's also part of a even larger, more epic tale. Contributing to this project means a double dose of good karma, as you're not only helping us complete the short, you're getting us one step closer to making the feature! Our sights are set high and it's going to be an amazing ride. We hope you'll come along and share the adventure with us!
Lucas Martell: Writer/Director/Producer - His first short film "Pigeon: Impossible" has been shown in over 250 festivals in 43 countries, and won more than 20 awards including Best Short at the Oscar-qualifying Montreal World Film Festival. The film was also a viral hit, having passed 8 million views on YouTube.
Tad Catalano: 3D Ninja - Tad has done it all... modeling, textures, lighting. He's also a hair/cloth specialist, having done stints at Blur and Nickelodeon, as well as all of the hair and cloth on Pigeon: Impossible.
Michael Cawood: Head of Story - Mike has worked in animation for over a decade on such high-profile films as "Happy Feet" and "Narnia: Prince Caspian." However, he's best known for his short film "Devils, Angels & Dating" which he wrote, directed, and did a large portion of the CG.
Tray Duncan: 3D Samurai - Another swiss-army knife of 3D goodness, Tray has worked as a producer, post supervisor, and also did previs animation for "I Am Legend" and "Zathura."
Henning Koczy: Animator - We've got a thing for multitalented individuals... Henning is not only a brilliant animator, he's also a director and a game designer. You've almost certainly seen his work on various commercials, especially the Coca Cola Happiness Factory spots.
Billy Lord: Models/Textures - Our newest addition to the team, Billy has been spending a lot of time turning our plane models into beautiful pieces of junkyard art! After all... it is Mad Max in the sky. We can't have clean, shiny planes now can we?
Christina Martell: Co-producer/Festival Coordinator - After 13 years of working in the non-profit sector, Lucas has finally managed to pull her over to the dark side of filmmaking. Fortunately, indie filmmaking basically works like a non-profit, so with all of her skills in development, she's right at home!
Kat Nowlin: Animator - A recent graduate from Animation Mentor, we snatched her up before anyone else could! She's also one of the rare people to know both sides of the filmmaking coin, having worked as a producer on several projects, including the student academy award winning "Roadside Assistance."
George Renner: Effects/Compositing - A one man VFX powerhouse, George has cut his teeth on too many films and commercials to count. His big task is making pretty clouds, which requires a lot of complex things like "pyroclastic voxel operators," and "multiple advection schemes to minimize numerical dissipation." Hooray for geeks!
Chris Reyman: Composer - Chris holds a DMA in Jazz Piano Performance from the University of Illinois, and has performed with groups all over the world. Most importantly, he composed all of the music for Pigeon: Impossible, so pay close attention to the 74 live musicians playing his score!
Ryan Saper: Modeler - Currently a masters student in Animation and Visual Effects at the Academy of Art University in San Franciso, Ryan has been cranking out some stellar looking models. We can't wait to show you his handiwork!
Why make an animated film on an island?
There's several reasons. First off, it's very hard to be creative when you're sitting in some dark, windowless room. Most modern animation studios resemble sweatshops more than creative spaces, and the bean counters don't seem to realize that the happier an artist is, the more productive they are, and the better their work gets. Plus, many studies have shown that the best way to boost creativity is to travel. By experiencing a totally different place and culture, the creative side of your brain is thrown into overdrive.
Another big reason was a simple practical matter... I've worked on several remote projects, and while its possible to have meetings online, animation is a collaborative art form. Having artists in the same room and able to bounce ideas around is not only more efficient, but it leads to a much better end product. I knew that this would really make a big difference for our production, but as an indie animation, how do you get a team of professional artists to commit to working on something full-time with such a limited budget? The answer, is that you turn production into a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is too cool to pass up.
How will the money be used?
Because of the nature of the project so far, we want to lay this out very specifically so everyone who donates knows exactly how the money will be spent. (And we want to make sure no one thinks we're taking a vacation with their money. :)
After the credit card fees and costs to deliver everyone's perks, 90% of what we raise will go to paying and feeding the crew. For the round of production we did in Belize, everyone worked for next to nothing. Even though it was an awesome experience, we cant ask them to do that again so soon. We're all freelance professionals in the animation industry, so this isn't just a hobby, it's our livelihood. Taking time to work on this project will mean passing up other paying gigs, so we need to make sure that everyone can cover their monthly expenses.
The remaining 10% will go towards travel expenses. Our first round of production showed us just how effective we can be when we're all in the same space, so its definitely worth it to get the team in the same location once again. See the section below for a much deeper explanation of how the location will be chosen.
Beyond our goal, we have a number of "stretch goals." For instance, if we hit $60,000, we'll be able to hire a live orchestra to record the score. That additional $10,000 beyond the previous tier will go towards the orchestra and recording expenses.
Where will this last phase of production take place?
At the moment, its wide open. The simplest choice would be Austin, TX where a significant portion of our crew lives. However, it comes with many of the day-to-day distractions we managed to escape during the first round of production. So, we're also looking at several places within driving distance of Austin. If we can somehow replicate a few of the conditions that made us so productive in Belize, while staying within our modest travel budget, that would be optimal. Finally, going outside of Texas would almost certainly cost more than our budget, BUT, if anyone out there has a living/working space you might be willing to let us use for production, it could very well be cheaper to bring the whole crew to your location. So, if you are the proud owner of a large(ish) house, hotel, chateau, castle, abandoned orphanage (with good wifi) or perhaps even a boat big enough to sleep 8 people, please email us directly to chat about it.
Where and when will the pre-release screening party be?
It will take place in Austin, TX sometime after we've finished the film, but before its festival premiere. We're shooting for sometime in mid-september. If a significant number of donors live in another city, we might try to arrange for a 2nd party, but we can't promise that at this point.
How does the Cloud Savior ($75) tier work?
If you haven't guessed already, there's a pretty strong environmental message in this film. We won't be hitting anyone over the head with it, but we do appreciate the irony that a lot of travel has been involved in the making of this film. So if you'd rather have a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart than awesome DVD's and posters, this tier is for you. You'll get all of the previous tiers' rewards which can be delivered electronically, and half of the donations at this level will go to offsetting our carbon footprint and other environmental programs related to the film. We'll also send you special updates to let you know exactly how and where these funds are going.
What is the online masterclass ($99/$250) about?
UPDATE: NEW MASTERCLASS SPECIAL ($99) TIER ADDED!
By popular demand, we've added a slightly modified version of the masterclass to make it more accessible. Its the same as the $250 level, but it does not include Session 8, which is a private one-on-one session, and it also does not include any physical items that would need to be manufactured and shipped. However, you will still get an HD download of the film, plus any other digital content from the previous tiers.
The overall focus of the masterclass is on creating animated short films. There's a wealth of information out there about specific aspects of animation, but this class will focus on the bigger picture of how to create, write, fund, direct, produce and distribute your own short film. Several topics will be applicable to any type of animation, but some segments will be specific to CG.
The class will be broken up into 8 sessions at 1 hour each, starting the last week of May. You'll be able to tune in and participate live via streaming, but we'll also record all of the classes in case you can't be online during one of the sessions. The more people who sign up, the better the class can be. So help us spread the word by reposting the above video!
Syllabus: Because this masterclass is designed to get you to see the animation process as a whole, sessions have been structured around themes rather than the usual linear process of write, design, model, animate… This means that each class will talk about how the central topic of that session fits into every stage of the process: from conception, to the ins and outs of production, all the way to how that topic can help your film find an audience.
- Session 1: Story - This first session will talk about generating ideas, and some essential elements that will help grab your audience's attention and keep them glued to their seats. We'll also cover 3-act structure, a quick intro to screenplay formatting, comedy vs drama, ideal length, and some of the key elements that will help open the door to getting your short made into a feature.
- Session 2: Characters - Here we'll talk about what goes into creating great and memorable characters. We'll touch on not only the writing process, but also character design, rigging, animation, and a few simple decisions that will have a big impact on how easy or difficult it will be to get your film in the can.
- Session 3: World - The world of a film is more than just environments. It's also the tone, look and feel of a film. Its the reason a Wes Anderson film feels so different than a James Cameron film, and it's one of the best ways to elevate a simple story into a mesmerizing work of art. And if you're really into the tech, don't worry. We'll also talk about building really cool environments.
- Session 4: Directing Animation - In addition to discussing a few different directing approaches, we'll talk about directing animators, designing shots, using cuts and pacing to your advantage, sound and music, advanced composition techniques, and ways to make your cameras more cinematic.
- Session 5: Producing Animation - This session will focus on the business side: How to best use your resources, raise funds, build a crew, budget and track production, market and release your film, and just a few legal things that will save your butt when dealing with distributors and movie studios. We'll also cover one of the least talked about, but most important sides of Hollywood: Development.
- Session 6: Software & Pipelines - The most tech-heavy class in the series, this session will go deep into the theory behind various aspects of 3D animation, simulation, and rendering. We'll talk about some great off-the-shelf software, and show how you can use it to make your film look awesome, without having to employ a small army of TD's.
- Session 7: Case Studies - This session will show the principles applied in other productions, give us a chance to tie up loose ends, address some tips and tricks that didn't fit into other sessions, and bring all the topics we've discussed together in one glorious stew of animation goodness. Mmm… stew...
- Session 8: One-On-One Session - The final session is a one-on-one Skype discussion with Lucas Martell, where you can talk about your project, ask more specific questions, review work in progress, or anything else you may want to talk about.
What is the private consultation ($500 level)?
The best way to think of it, is an extension of the masterclass, which you also receive with this tier. But, while the masterclass only allows one hour of individual attention, this tier gives us much more time to talk about your project and identify how to take it to the next level. The private consultation adds four hours to the masterclass (for a total of five hours of individual attention), but you can also choose to break it up into smaller chunks. For instance you might want to do several shorter sessions to get feedback on the story at various states of completion. Or maybe you want to have a longer discussion about technical concerns as you begin production, but save an hour to talk about distribution once your film is finished.
Thank you so much for your support!