March 22, 2016
The first "sparks" in terms of inspiration for Custodian occurred while I was still working on The Apple Tree, which is currently finishing up its festival run. Additional sources of inspiration came from gaming in a medieval universe and a particular song lyric that stuck with me. The Apple Tree was a nostalgic, idealistic piece with an environmental message, uplifting but poignant. I think it was a natural evolution to use animated images to explore the dark side of human nature, more mature themes such as guilt, penance, self-loathing; the concept that everyone is fighting a battle about which no one may know.
As we all know, animation is very time consuming. I am essentially a one man show - drawing, colouring, animating, editing - because animation is something I do for the sheer love of it, and during downtime from live action features. I have a full time job and a father of four, but I am the kind of person who must always be creating something, growing as an artist.
I had a phenomenal team on The Apple Tree, which is expected to be distributed later this year, and I have carried them with me to Custodian: Composer extraordinaire Joe Kraemer - a good friend who has scored every film I have made, whose most recent known for scoring Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation; and David DeLizza and Michael Benish, my awesome sound team. Joe, David and Michael have all won GIFA Awards for their work on The Apple Tree.
An odd thing occurred around the time The Apple Tree was being picked up by film festivals across North America: one of its fans, April Lee from Toronto, Ontario, became so enamoured with the film that she offered to help with social media public relations, negotiations and act as an assistant during a couple of film festivals. She loved the concept and story of Custodian and in addition to the types of things she did for The Apple Tree, will do some of the opaquing, which will hopefully save some time in the process. This being the age of YouTube and similar platforms, it also made sense to involve big content creators (such as Rob Dyke) and their followers.
We are a team who works out of love for the creative process and the magic of filmmaking, and I think this will show in the final product, the work on which continues in force while the Seed&Spark campaign is running. Our mentality is that Custodian will get done, no matter what; what the crowdfunding will do is amp up the timeline so our growing fan base will not have to wait the five years it took for me to make The Apple Tree. Already we have more followers at this early stage than we had for The Apple Tree after its release. It is an exciting time and the potential to provide fans something great truly drives us.
In terms of the campaign, it was important for us to have themed tiers (so we played on medieval social hierarchy) and unique, tangible rewards for contributors to enjoy. For film campaigns, people are accustomed to getting credit, updates, stills, etc., but the perks include things like handmade chainmail jewelry, handpainted medieval themed miniatures from a kind donor, Reaper Miniatures, and the opportunity to see oneself as an animated character. Thinking outside the box (to so speak) like this has also allowed us to reach audiences we might not have considered or which would have been harder to approach, such as the tabletop gamer community (a lot of whom play medieval themed games), crafters, and people who love cool and interesting things.
So far the campaign has been an eye opener, and indispensable in terms of honing our abilities to produce and market my brand. I am excited for the next steps! Help me get this movie made by funding or following (or both) before Friday, March 25th!