True Skin: Full Version

Earlier this year I blogged the teaser for an upcoming short film by the team at N1ON, which looked like a really interesting work-in-progress.

Yesterday, their film ‘True Skin’ was released to the world, kicking off a bidding war as studios move to capitalise on its unique visual style in a full-length feature, that will most likely build on the short’s basic premise:

A sci-fi short set in the not too distant future where augmentation is the way of life. For Kaye, still a natural, augmenting will help him keep pace in this now hyper-paced world. However, after acquiring an off-market prototype, Kaye quickly finds himself fighting not only for his own humanity, but something much larger.

I think it shows real consideration for the potential for inner-city living in a post-human age. If anywhere is going to end up like a cyberpunk’s wet dream, it’s probably Bangkok. Take a look:

OK sure, the narrative may be a bit weak, but there are enough unexplored little details to engage the mind, and if it ever does get green-lit I’m sure they’ll have their pick of great writers.

My vote would be for Warren Ellis, who gave The City such depth and texture in his series Transmetropolitan that it – at least to me – stands as the most complete vision of  a cyberpunk society to this day.

But in True Skin he may have found a contender.

Crowd Financing: The Saviour Of Short Film?

Here’s an exploration of how young filmmakers are turning to the web to translate their concepts into capital, by means of a case study.

Lucy Tcherniak, a very talented friend of mine, has spent the last 18 months working on ‘Dominic’, her Psycho-Noir short film set in an English gentlemen’s club in the 1950s. How cool does that sound?!

The project is nearing completion, and word on the street is it’s going to be a corker. Judging by early imagery, I’m sure it’ll be a cult hit on the online video and awards scene.

A still from the short film 'Dominic' - release date TBC
A still from the short film 'Dominic' - release date TBC

However, the film hit a snag that prevents it reaching completion, thanks to a cock-up pertaining to securing music rights. Here’s a note from the film’s director on the piece of music in question:

The film has an entirely original score apart from a vital track which is played on the radio in the very first scene – Vera Lynn’s ‘It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow’. This was in the script from the beginning and sets the tone for the film. The £600 fee for the publishing rights for the track were originally in Partizan’s budget. Though unfortunately, because Partizan had to go way over budget during the shoot they can’t stump up any more cash for it now.

So, how does this director plan to solve the issue, release the movie, and see her name in lights? She’s turned the funding issue over to us: the crowd. Lucy has created a profile and project page on IndieGoGo, one of several very cool new crowd funding services that makes it easy to get support and feel good about giving it, this one seemingly focused on media production.

Alternative services include:

  • KickStarter –  currently the largest crowd funding service in the world, with renown from projects like Diaspora, voyURL and Eyewriter.
  • RocketHub – which crazily splits it’s site into ‘creatives’ and ‘fuelers’, which in my view makes it feel like less of a collaborative effort.
  • CatWalkGenius – invites visitors to “make history by investing in the first ever public-funded fashion collection” in return for profit and perks.
  • Profounder – which is the more overtly business-focused site, where entrepreneurship and managing your investors takes precedence.
  • Fans Next Door – a new site focused on the creative arts, with a wide mix of typically very small art and music projects.

So how do you make your project stand out? In Lucy’s case, she’s bundled her plea for funding along with her film’s plot and pre-release stills, followed by details of her problem:

Dominic is a man who lost everything the day the love of his life killed himself. Years on, he is so consumed with grief that he has become victim to his own dangerous imagination.

The track is Vera Lynn’s ‘It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow’, which plays on the radio during the suicide scene. The melancholy but hopeful lyrics of ‘It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow’ bring a wonderful dark irony to start of the film, as Will attempts to write his suicide note, then picks up the radio and climbs into the bath; Vera Lynn’s cheery tone fizzling into silence.

This high profile short film starring Daniel Caltagirone (The Pianist, The Beach) and produced by Partizan Films (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind) is in its final stages. The only thing left is to pay for publishing rights for the vital piece of music used in the first scene of the film.

Pretty compelling, no? But this alone isn’t going to open too many wallets (sorry Lucy!). What investors are really after is a return on investment: a share, a slice of the action, a reward, notoriety or plain old ego-massage.

The various perks for investing in the short film 'Dominic'

So IndieGoGo allows it’s hopefuls to offer sweeteners to the deal (image right). It was the promise of premiere tickets and a Limited Edition DVD that nudged me towards a $100 donation (that and the need for some fresh blog content 😉 ).

With all this give and take however, it does beg the question: what is IndieGoGo’s business model? Where is their slice of action?

I suspect services like these skim a percentage of total funding, so really what they’re after are for investees to use their services to attract big bids, meaning a greater profit for the facilitator. The other route to profit is to take on more small projects. The clever bit is that growth seems entirely driven by the entrepreneurship of it’s users: their traffic driving is done for them through friend-to-friend referrals and through the PR-ability of the projects they host.

These sites seem a perfect storm, where the investee, the investor, and the platform owner have their needs met. With such potential for mutual reward, I’d be interested to see whether these sites take on an eBay-like ecology, where mutual gain through the system becomes so commonplace that near-all smalltime entrepreneurship starts out as a project page online.

It’s certainly a trend in the film industry, where right now there are 5,319 listed film projects on IndieGoGo alone. I’ve seen some projects where for funding of, say, $10,000 you’ll be credited as an Executive Producer! This is a major shift in film production, reducing barriers to entry all the way down to the level of one’s own ability to self-promote.

For anyone interested in donating to this cause, here’s the link.
Maybe I’ll see you at the premiere.

World Builder – A Film Where Holography Meets Romance

I stumbled upon a video last night, in which a man builds a virtual world using holographic tools for a certain special someone. It’s a blend of astounding graphics, clever user interface ideas, some poignant moments, and an actor who does this odd sideways smirk quite often (but don’t let that spoil it).

World Builder was shot in a single day followed by about 2 years of post production. It has won several short film awards. The film’s creator, Bruce Branit, has built a Facebook community around World Builder, where he’s been sharing updates, behind the scenes material, and the news that he’s pressing on with a feature length version.

My favourite element of this video is Bruce’s interface concept – fingertip control, a wrist-mounted colour & texture palette, and a sense of our favourite Photoshop tools brought into the real-world.

As with all the videos I post here, remember to hit fullscreen, and let me know what you think in the comments. Don’t get too slushy though.

Synesthesia

syn·es·the·sia syn·aes·the·sia (sĭn’ĭs-thē’zhə):

  • A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color.
  • A sensation felt in one part of the body as a result of stimulus applied to another, as in referred pain.
  • The description of one kind of sense impression by using words that normally describe another.

It is widely considered that synesthesia arises in brains where from a young age, neurological paths that service our sensory perception do not become entirely defined, resulting in cross-chatter between the senses.

Famous synesthetes reportedly include painter David Hockney, who perceives music as color, shape, and configuration; composer Wassily Kandinsky, who had a four senses combined: color, hearing, touch, and smell; and physicist Richard Feynman who percieves elements of equations as different colours.

What a cool way to see the world – a totally unique perception of reality. And how hard must it be to express this reality to others?! Synesthetes must feel in some part driven to demonstrate their unique perspective, perhaps driving them to create great cultural artefacts that we can all enjoy.

One filmmaker has produced their interpretation of a reality touched by synesthesia. I urge you to watch this great short film for a taste of the condition:



Synesthesia
from Terri Timely on Vimeo.

Can anyone out there think of a way us non-synesthetes might be able to experience the world like this, via the medium of Augmented Reality?
Would love to explore some ideas.