Crowd-sourcing money has become an industry standard for making short films a reality. Platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are dedicated to providing creatives a place to secure funding and tell their stories how they want them told. Thunderhawk Pictures are currently crowdfunding their latest project, to be directed by Exit 6 alumni Mark J. Blackman.
The Verge is a full-bore action short about three women fighting one another to the roof of an abandoned building. Outside, the world is coming to an end and below them the floors flood as their battle becomes increasingly desperate an they race towards their prize.
It’s bloody and it’s brutal but it also has a genuine heart at its core. How could I pass up pitching on such a film?
Rewinding a few days, I had stumbled across Producer Zbigniew Siwek’s (ZB) advert seeking a Director for The Verge (then titled something different) online and expressed my interest in reading the script.
Having just wrapped on NEON, a bold, rainswept neo-noir romance-fantasy, I was looking for something similarly rich, not just thematically but also tonally.
ZB sent me Alba Moyano’s script. At 10 pages long, it was a terse, focused piece that struck me as a perfect short film – a simple but richly executed concept, strong characters defined by their actions and a bold finale that leaves the audience… well… I don’t want to spoil anything, but an ending that suits my sense of how stories should almost always end.
Suffice to say, I loved it. I submitted a director’s treatment that was over twice the length of the actual script, met with them both and we were soon a team, developing The Verge and its current Kickstarter campaign was soon underway.
What’s been wonderful with Alba and ZB is they’ve been open to auditioning ideas and development. Everything’s been up for discussion and we’ve tinkered and changed some bold elements, all enriching the overall flow and impetus throughout (including one groundbreaking suggestion from Executive Producer Roxy Holman).
The Verge’s tone is one that’s bleak. The action’s intense, captured in long takes, and when these women are hit, they hurt. They bleed and they break, but their strength, their resolve keeps them moving for a cause – and a plot reveal – that is greater than them.
However, while this is primarily an action film, it’s an action film in the best possible sense – it’s emotional. We care about the faces being pummeled. And each character has an arc and a moment. There’s some real hubris at play for one, a tender reveal from another and a decision made by the third that changes everything we’ve seen come before it.
And the characters are named in that classic Walter Hill style ala The Driver. They’re Brains, Brave and Brute and their personalities – and fighting styles – reflect these elements.
This is a massively ambitious short, and while I’ve also done two shorts that are very quiet dramas, I adore those that go big or go home. This is all flickering fluorescent lights, spinning cameras, crumbling buildings, rain machines, blood and rage.
The crowdfunding campaign is underway and ZB and Alba have prepared an impeccable strategy that’s seen us hit over £6K in just over a week and we’re still going strong. We have some terrific announcements lined up and have some amazing concept art made by Nik Lacchin in Venice that really shows the bold style we’re aiming for. For the three of us, it’s our first crowdfunding campaign but we’ve had some guidance from Roxy who’s worked on some prior to this and brings a wealth of production experience with her to boot.
We set up the crowdfunding campaign page to target four groups of potential funders: Supporters of woman in film, environment groups, martial arts enthusiasts, and sci-fi fans. We promoted the campaign before the launch on Facebook and Twitter and are now continuing to spread the word through contacting bloggers and journalists in each of our four categories.
We’ve had some lovely mentions from The Slaughtered Bird, who have championed a few previous shorts of mine, Sci-Fi Bulletin and Shooting People curated us as a Kickstarter campaign to watch. We also were the leading Kickstarter film campaign in London too!
In addition we are contacting serial backers on Kickstarter who have funded similar projects in the past. Finally we are reaching out to all other filmmakers out there who may have got their films funded through Kickstarter in the past and want to return the favour. We have done this through making posts on all the major filmmaker Facebook groups, contacted indie filmmaking blogs, and presented our campaign at Shorts On Tap.
Personally speaking, as much as this is a film that’s going to be dripping with mood visually, it’s the fight choreography I’m the most looking forward to working on, ensuring the drama the struggles and the emotion of these women is clear in each and every beat(down).
To learn more about the project and become a backer of the film visit The Verge's Kickstarter campaign page. Keep up to date with the progress of the film on Facebook and Twitter.
You can follow Mark, ZB and Alba on Twitter too.
For more information about Mark and his work visit his website.
For more information about Thunderhawk Pictures visit their website.