One of my first projects here at Hive76 was the Burning Zombie Dummy. A friend of mine had called me, asking me if I knew how to set people on fire safely, and that led into a very stern discussion about what he was trying to do and that I would take over so that noone would get hurt. So I became the Special Effects Design Engineer for Exile: The Family You Choose, and it was one of the best times of my life. I got to do some pretty awesome things (including making an impromptu harness for doing a shotgun-to-the-chest effect), met a lot of really great people, and learned a lot about a hobby that would ignite my passion in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. Seeing our end result, this thing that we made together, from start to finish, without any adults (of course, we’re all adults, but you never really feel like it) helped to further cement my belief that anyone is capable of doing anything. The hacker spirit is strong in the indie film world.
We went to the GenCon Indy 2012 Film Festival in Indianapolis, IN, and I got to see a whole new world. Indie film crews from all over the world (yeah, even one from Australia) showed up for nothing more than to meet each other and share tips. Stories of hard work, ingenious hacks on tight budgets, and caffeine addiction were easy to find in this extremely welcoming of communities. I also got to hang out more with one of our writers, to know him better, and peek into the vision of where the series is going. It’s pretty exciting and can only get better from where we already are. A lot of dreams were expressed of building a community around independent film and theater, producing content for free on the Web, for the people, to hopefully one day break the oligopoly of big-time, Hollywood studios. Did I mention that the FOSS spirit is also very strong in the indie film community?
Today, I am the Associate Producer for the series. This is kind of a catch-all title that makes sure everyone is on task and getting what they need. Over a decade of working in software development, much of it as the technical lead on a team of developers, has prepared me for this quite well. It’s much the same sort of work: keeping notes, communicating well, and following up with people. I’m also doing as much as I can to stump for the series; we all do. Independent film is a lot like a hackerspace in that way; everyone is in it together, doing all of the work completely for free, just because we love it, pushing on through setbacks just because you think you might, just maybe, possibly can pull it off.
Everyone is very dedicated to the project, but at this point, we’ve reached the limits of what we’re capable of doing out of our own pockets. So this year, we’ve setup a Kickstarter fund, to appeal to the charity of the Internet, that maybe they are eager to support people trying to do A Thing, trying to learn, trying to grow, and maybe even invest in a mindshare of local artists. With this Kickstarter, we’re looking to improve our equipment and effects budget. For example, last time, we were trying to light a scene in the middle of a horse pasture with extension cords from a house 300 yards away. You can imagine the terror in the director’s eyes every time one of the extras kept tripping over those cords.
Even as little as a dollar helps. Man, I don’t even KNOW what costs a dollar anymore. Half of a hotdog? The first 5 minutes of the latest Transformers movie? Dryer lint (maybe)? Just think, you can help make the dreams of a bunch of nerds and geeks come true, while also supporting the arts and the Internet media revolution, all for the price of 1 suit from a pack of Bicycle playing cards.