How to use Kickstarter for your next film project: Crazy Pictures
The technology is available to you. If someone else has done it, there is 100% chance that you can do it also.
Crazy Pictures’ pioneering DIY ethic has propelled them to a respectable position in the world of online video and commercials. The company’s unorthodox approach has increased its exposure and opportunities, allowing it to successfully crowdsource a beautifully written, technically slick and most importantly, very Swedish film called The Unthinkable.
Victor Danell, director, VFX supervisor, and one of the company’s founders, describes how he first started making films when he was 10 years old:
“In the beginning, my brother Jacob and I filmed everything we could find with a VHS camcorder, making stop-motion Lego animation movies and moving toys around with strings. We didn’t have a computer so we’d scan from the video recorder to the VHS, then split the audio, plugging in stereo and synthesisers to make effects and using a microphone to add our voices.”
Having taught himself these analogue techniques, Victor, together with four friends—Hannes Krantz, Albin Pettersson, Olle Tholén, and Rasmus Råsmark—formed Crazy Pictures as soon as they finished secondary school:
“Crazy Pictures was our film school. It allowed us to develop our own way of filmmaking. We were not afraid of the impossible; instead we became excited by the challenge. As long as we had the imagination and the right tools, anything was possible.”
Crazy Pictures’s first big impact came with its short film series, “Poetry for Fishes.” Released on YouTube rather than through the traditional film festival route, the films built up a dedicated fan base:
Software is vital
“The idea was to place people like you and me in stylised situations to raise questions that might not otherwise reach a wide audience. People know about real-life situations like war just from what they see in movies, but we take a real fleshed-out character to that strange place.”
Of course software is vital in making all the effects in these film projects. As Danell explains, “We do all the compositing in After Effects, as we’ve been doing since we were small. When we got our first computer we got Premier 6.5 and After Effects. They let us produce the visuals we were after really quick.”
Moreover, he adds, “We try to use as little 3D as possible because we see it as unnecessary. We love using miniatures and real elements on the recording side, meaning we can use Adobe software to quickly get the look we’re after.”
Funded via Kickstarter
The Unthinkable (“Den blomstertid nu kommer” in Swedish) was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, which was fairly unknown in Sweden at the time. The pilot teaser gives a good taste of what to expect:
The confusion and emotional impact of Swedes suddenly finding themselves at war. Shooting took 106 days, and just wrapped up in November 2016. Thanks to the Kickstarter money, the Crazy Pictures team was able to include some ambitious practical effects such as crashing cars, trucks, and airplanes.
“We crashed many cars! We discussed whether to do it digitally or with miniatures . . . and decided driving for real was best so we used a kit that you can put in any car and make it RC driven.”
There’s never been anything close to their new feature film
Jacob Danell, VFX supervisor on the project, continues, “There has never been anything close to The Unthinkable in Swedish films, so we really want to show people what we can do. We borrowed rain towers from an SFX company so we could fill scenes with real rain; however, in many scenes we later added rain plates to fill up the image.” This balance of practical and digital effects gives the film an authentic atmosphere that will draw in its audience.
We decide when the film is ready
The 80 hours of raw material and around 300 effects shots are currently being turned into the finished film. No release date has been confirmed yet, and there’s no reason to rush. “Nothing is cast in stone. Another good thing about having all of the power of the film ourselves is we can decide to hold off another month for the good of the film if we feel we need to.”
Danell further notes that, “One thing that pushed us to make high-quality films was when we were small, we’d watch movies, thinking about the tools, like After Effects, the filmmakers were using. We had the same tools, so we knew we could create the same effects.”
All photos: Samuel Westergren.