Quick update on The Lazarus Machine – next week writer/producer Steve, composer Chris and I will be interviewed by Alyssa and Kristin of Behind The Steam, a great music-oriented podcast focused on the rather diverse Steampunk scene. It was scheduled for yesterday but postponed due to flu – get well soon, Kristin!
Looking forward to that enormously, particularly since in the last few days we have managed to arrange three original tracks from Unwoman, Sunday Driver and Vernian Process. I love how approachable everyone in the Steampunk music scene is!
Remember to spread the word about The Lazarus Machine’s KickStarter campaign – we’ve had a lovely response from those who’ve seen the page – but we need to reach more people!
The KickStarter page for “The Lazarus Machine” is now live!
And so begins our drive to build an audience for the project big enough to get it made. Crowdfunding is a wonderfully democratic method of funding, and it means there are no gatekeepers, no one person holding the purse strings and making a call on whether it is worth producing. If enough people want to see it, we can proceed. Simple as that.
The challenge now is making enough people aware of it’s existence so they can make that judgement. So if you’re reading this, please take a moment to let your social networks know about our little webseries. Some of your friends may be into steampunk, or independent film. Some might just like great actors like Timothy West and Sophie Aldred. Some might be keen on unusual music – and the bands contributing to The Lazarus Machine are as varied as they come:
retro-goth Vernian Process
anachro-punks The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing
time-travelling raconteurs The Cog Is Dead
crazed chap-hopper Professor Elemental
and the indescribable The Tiger Lillies!
And some of your friends might just like something a bit different 🙂
Whatever the case, please let them know about us so they can decide whether they want to see it for themselves. Thank you!
Time for an update on our long-awaited web serial. Things are moving fast now, so I will be posting much more frequently! As a reminder, here is the test scene we shot as a proof of concept – click through to watch the video…
This was a great experience – cast and crew were wonderfully enthusiastic, the CG sets are fantastic, and we’re very happy with the results. Now it’s time to repeat the process on a grander scale to create 8 episodes of about 8 minutes each. It’s comparable to shooting a feature.
The most important news is that the project has a new title. “Winter” has been a great working title, but it doesn’t convey anything about the story. So henceforth the flagship story of the Voidships world will be…
“The Lazarus Machine”.
And we’re going to need more help. We have a KickStarter campaign poised to launch, and a lot of very exciting news to reveal, particularly if you’re a fan of great actors, steampunk music or behind-the-scenes VFX breakdowns. We have all manner of ways to keep track of our progress, and we need you to share our ramblings with anyone who likes steampunk, or independent filmmaking, or science fiction, or good drama:
Email! Go to monstrousproductions.com and sign up to the mailing list.
Twitter! Follow @Voidships or @adaddinsane or @Qixotl.
Google+! Join The Lazarus Machine community.
In fact…check out the G+ community right now for our first casting reveal!
I thought I’d collate all the other upcoming steampunk film projects I’m aware of, mostly for my own benefit. The question is, will these projects suck away the potential audience for Winter, or can we ride their coat-tails to a greater audience than we could have reached without them? I’m an optimist – I think we’ll benefit from the increased awareness of the genre.
Boilerplate – JJ Abrams, based on the book by Paul Guinan.
LarkLight – dir. Shekhar Kapur, based on the novels by Philip Reeve. Delayed to 2013.
Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adele Blanc-Sec – Luc Besson, based on the graphic novels by Jacques Tardi.
Steampunk: The Movie – dir. Billy Boyd (not the Billy “Pippin” Boyd). Low-budget US indie film, currently in post.
Bioshock Infinite – upcoming videogame set in a flying city above turn-of-the-century America.
I’ve definitely missed some important ones. I’ll update when I remember…
So, it’s been a while. Sometimes I get very busy at work, so not a lot of filmmaking happens. But this weekend writer Steve and I met for a discussion of the Winter project and set some short-term goals, so it feels like things are moving again.
The chief difficulty with a greenscreen project is that it requires vastly more preproduction than a conventional shoot – although actual production is logistically simpler. Every virtual set needs to be concepted, blocked out, lit and tested in a rough cut beforehand. The actual shoot will be entirely in one room with very careful lighting changes, and focused on helping the actors feel comfortable performing in a green void. I’m inclined to shoot chronologically on this project because the whole story will feel so much more coherent to the cast that way.
But to get that far, we require the application of considerable artistic talent, for an unreasonable length of time. It’s hard enough to find collaborators who can generously spare a weekend for shooting, let alone weeks of late nights hunched over a computer. The guerilla filmmaking model doesn’t really work for what we’re trying to do.
Fortunately, it’s not a roadblock – just an uphill struggle. We have a plan for building a pool of committed talent, and as Steve refines the script I’m going to refine the list of assets we require – replacing some full 3D sets with digital mattes, and re-using assets wherever possible.
Step one is to kick things off with a signature image – our first item of pitch material. This will be our best tool (other than our winning personalities) to attract talent and investment. I’ll let you know how that goes.
There’s also the small but critical detail of coming up with a name for our alternative steampunk universe, which I suspect will be by far the hardest task…suggestions welcome!
Scriptwriter extraordinaire Steve Turnbull has announced details of our latest project on his blog, adaddinsane. This is the flagship project in our shared story-world, which is very exciting because the setting Steve has created is far too rich to fully explore in one short serial.
The words “epic” and “independent” are strange bedfellows, but I think we have the right mix of skills to pull it off. I’m particularly impressed with the script – it’s technically draft 2, but in practice it’s a complete rewrite, bringing the core storyline into our shared world. Somehow Steve has managed to fix all the issues various readers had with draft one, AND throw in a host of additional layers of story.
Head on over to his blog for some tantalising hints about the story – we’ll reveal more details once pre-production starts in earnest…
I attended a seminar on Wednesday with Scott Kirsner, organised by North West Vision and Media (they should have a video of the event on their site shortly). He made a great presentation summarizing his book “Fans, Friends and Followers” with example YouTube videos and websites, and we had an interesting Q&A session afterwards.
I came away energised and (perhaps mistakenly) confident that I can use the internet to fund and distribute my work. Fortunately, Steve Turnbull mailed me an early draft of our new web serial “Winter” the night before, so I had something concrete to visualize applying these promotional techniques to. The key is to start early, and be patient – it takes time to build an audience. Let the promotion begin…
So, here’s my current plans for 2010 – outside work, at least. I’ll post about my TT projects when they’re announced.
• Write making-of posts for the rest of my films. I’m doing them in chronological order, and the more recent ones are bigger projects and fresher in my memory – which means the posts take much longer to write.
• Cut a trailer for Monsters to enter in the inaugural Trailer Festival. Ironically, this was our original plan, until I persuaded everyone that the mini-pilot format would be a better use of the budget. The ideal trailer would have more characters, more locations and more VFX, which takes money (and/or big favours). So I’m going to try some experimental editing…
• “Winter”! This is a brand new script by Steve Turnbull, written specifically as a web serial. It’ll be the most ambitious project I’ve worked on – the biggest new challenges for me are directing action and doing our own publicity. Lots to plan, and we’ll be keeping a production diary too. This is the focus of the year.
• I’m working on a feature script of my own, which is still an incomplete outline. I’d like to get a few drafts done within the year if I can, mostly to prove to myself that I can write a feature.
Should be a hectic but rewarding year!
The Rage Against The Machine challenge to XFactor’s Christmas number one is an interesting case study for building an online presence, something I will need to start in earnest next year.
It seems to me that the success of the Rage campaign is down to positioning itself directly against a rolling publicity juggernaut and playing the underdog. And the choice of a 17 year old anti-authoritarian track appeals to the market sector least likely to support XFactor…polarising the market even further and leveraging social networks to achieve saturation.
It’s a strategy that may only work once, but I’ll certainly bear it mind in my own efforts at publicising my next project, Winter.
For the record, I bought the album and live versions of Killing in the Name. Rage on!
[Update 1] I should also note that I expect this post to spike my traffic like Vlad the Impaler 🙂 I’ll update later to tell you if I was right…
[Update 2] Hmm, a pretty poor spike if I’m honest – 2 views. Still, that’s a 30-40% increase on my normal traffic! I must get one of those “Nobody reads my blog” T-shirts.
Ted Hope of TrulyFreeFilm has an interesting post on crowdsourcing for film funding – notably the idea that nowadays filmmakers should demonstrate they can build an audience before seeking funding, and have a marketing strategy and ecommerce solutions in place. He makes a good point – many filmmakers see funding as merely an obstacle to getting their film made and don’t have any expectation of recovering it – and will often blame this on the state of the market and latterly the ecomony. But ultimately, if you don’t plan how to make your film profitable, then it’s probably just a vanity project. So why would anyone give you money to make it?
This is particularly applicable to my latest project, which like Steve, I’ll call “Winter”. The crowdsourcing, that is – not the vanity project…