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Five Projects iW is Rooting For: "Buddy Holly," Dry-Frozen Pets, and More

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | feelingsoblahg.blogspot.com April 21, 2011 at 5:39AM

In today's in-production column, indieWIRE takes a look at an adaptation of the geek-approved sci-fi comic novel "Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede," which has Jon Heder in the role of a young man who is the target of a resurrected Buddy Holly. Also profiled this week are four Kickstarter projects, including a doc about post-death pet preservation, another about the gay rights movement in Uganda, an exploration of a region of Japan that has been home to various suicides, and a profile of Christian gamblers.
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An image from Robert Rugan's "Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede." [Image courtesy of the filmmaker]

In today's in-production column, indieWIRE takes a look at an adaptation of the geek-approved sci-fi comic novel "Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede," which has Jon Heder in the role of a young man who is the target of a resurrected Buddy Holly. Also profiled this week are four Kickstarter projects, including a doc about post-death pet preservation, another about the gay rights movement in Uganda, an exploration of a region of Japan that has been home to various suicides, and a profile of Christian gamblers.

"Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede"

"About ten years ago, a friend of mine found the novel and showed it to me," "Buddy Holly" producer Molly Mayeux told indieWIRE. "There was one existing script that wasn't a great adaptation, so at that time, we spent a good year or so writing a new script, showed it to a few studios, and the visual effects scared all the studio execs. It would have been a big huge Terry Gilliam kind of movie. I'm not sure that's the kind of movie I want to make."

A decade later and special effects are pervasive in the film industry and considerably cheaper. In those ten years, too, Mayeaux met Robert Rugan, a commercial director known for his stunning visual effects work and buzzy concepts (Rugan is perhaps best known as the creator of the Durex condom ad that features two balloon dogs copulating). Mayeux signed Rugan onto the project and the team created a teaser for the film that they are using to familiarize Internet audiences and potential investors with the project and the concept.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Mayeux has been faced with perplexed faces, and so she hopes the trailer can shed some light on what is so compelling about the narrative, what brought her and her team to the story. "There's something about it that is so creative and unique. It's a rockabilly road movie, comedy and science fiction, all of these really fun moments together. It's one of those one-of-a-kind finds.
The prototype for us in our pitches has been 'Back to the Future.' I'm sure people were like 'What??'"

The concept is, indeed, less than conventional: While everyone in the world is glued to their television screens, all networks, all transmissions are interrupted by the specter of a resurrected Buddy Holly who is floating in a bubble with his guitar on Ganymede, one of Jupiter's moons. During the transmission, the young Buddy Holly holds up a sign telling viewers to contact Oliver Vale for assistance. The unsuspecting Vale, played by Jon Heder ("Napoleon Dynamite") is thus hunted down by a confused and suspicious public.

The film not only has the excitement of Cory Doctorow and his boingboing community behind it, it also has the approval of several Buddy Holly enthusiasts, and with all luck will be able to secure the rights to the songs (owned by Paul McCartney). The team is teaming for a fundraiser event organized by John Thomas of the Buddy Holly Guitar Foundation April 29 at the Upper West Side PJ Clarke's, where Don McLean will honor Holly's widow. The music side of the project is developing nicely with artists like Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, and the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart preparing covers.

For more information on the film, visit its website here.


More projects

"Furever"

An image from Amy Finkel's "Furever." [Image courtesy of the filmmaker.]


Logline: "Furever" is a study of post-death pet preservation. This curious practice offers a unique perspective on mortality, grief and mourning.

Production team: Director: Amy Finkel

About the film: "Initially I learned of pet preservation in 2007, after reading an article one morning about outrageous pet expenditures. It mentioned Mac, of Mac’s Taxidermy fame, and told the story of a woman who chose to freeze-dry her pet as an alternative to burial or cremation. I was fascinated by the concept of freeze-drying animals, as I’d only ever thought of the technology in relation to Cup O’ Noodles™ or Astronaut Ice Cream™, but I was especially drawn to the story of the pet owner, and her level of attachment and inability to let go of her pet. While it struck me as unconventional and not necessarily healthy, it was an experience with which I was familiar. I’d had many pets as a child, from anoles and budgies, to dogs and rats, and I became equally attached to every one of them. My animal companions and I shared a close physical bond, and with each of their deaths, I was utterly inconsolable. Age has helped me to become slightly better equipped to process death, but still it’s always grueling to let go. I knew what I had to do. I called Mac, told him I was working on a documentary about pet preservation, my first feature-length film (I’d made two shorts before), and asked if he’d mind if I came to Fort Loudon, PA, to spend a few days with him. He happily obliged and one month later I packed up my camera, hopped on a greyhound, and set off to explore." -- Amy Finkel

Current status: The project is currently in the post-production stage, turning the current eight-minute short into a feature. Finkel is looking for funders and partner organizations to help with the film.

For more information and to support the film: Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $5,000 by the end of the campaign (July 21).


"Call Me Kuchu"

An image from Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright's "Call Me Kuchu." [Image courtesy of the filmmakers.]


Logline: Four lesbian, gay and transgender Ugandans fight for justice and freedom on the frontlines of Africa's gay rights movement. At once tragic and hopeful, this is their story.

Production team: Director/Producer: Malika Zouhali-Worrall; Director/Cinematographer/Editor: Katherine Fairfax Wright

About the film: "In 2009 we met David Kato, the first openly gay man in Uganda. An indignant and occasionally foulmouthed activist known to many as the Grandfather of the 'kuchus,' David was determined to put an end to Uganda’s harsh sodomy laws, and he was convinced that the best way to do so would be to lead Uganda’s underground kuchu community out into the open. Soon after our first contact with David, a controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced in Uganda’s parliament proposing death for HIV-positive gay men and a prison sentence for anyone who failed to turn in a 'known homosexual.' Inspired in part by American evangelicals who had briefed Ugandan members of parliament on the perils of the 'homosexual agenda,' this draconian piece of legislation represented a huge setback for David and his mission to liberate his fellow kuchus. Nonetheless, he was determined to do everything in his power to kill the bill and the homophobic sentiment behind it, and we were determined to follow him as he embarked on this perilous journey. So it came as a terrible shock when, just three weeks after the High Court case, we received a distraught text message from a friend telling us that David had been murdered."

Current status: The film is currently headed into the post-production stage.

For more information and to support the film: Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $10,000 by the end of the campaign (May 20).


"The Sea of Trees"

An image from Joshua Zucker-Pluda's "The Sea of Trees." [Image courtesy of filmmaker.]


Logline: An exploration of the Japanese forest where the spirits of suicides linger, silence reigns, and compasses fail.

Production team: Producer/Director/Writer/Photographer: Joshua Zucker-Pluda; Editor: Jon Leone; Sound design/Score: Koen Holtkamp; Additional music: Troum

About the film: "By studying the presence left behind in certain spaces, I am trying to embody loss, to capture the fact that something can only be truly felt when it is gone. To me, Aokigahara Jukai illustrates this concept: The forest itself acts as a border between life and death. It is literally "haunted" by memories - objects are left behind by suicides and scattered throughout the Jukai. The narrative of Aokigahara Jukai is not only a Japanese story, but also an inherently human one. Suicide is a topic that everyone can understand and I believe that this project has the ability to transcend location and nationality. The film presents the story with a degree of sensitivity that neither sensationalizes the forest nor exploits its Japanese setting. In doing so, the narrative addresses a difficult subject in a manner that both Western and Eastern audiences can appreciate." -- Joshua Zucker-Pluda

Current status: The film is currently in post-production, after being in production since Summer 2008.

For more information and to support the film: Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $2,000 by the end of the campaign (May 17).


"Holy Rollers"

An image from Bryan Storkel's "Holy Rollers." [Image courtesy of the filmmaker.]


Logline: "Holy Rollers" follows the rise of arguably the largest and most well-funded blackjack team in America—made up entirely of churchgoing Christians. While they succeed in taking millions from casinos, how will they manage to find a place for faith and God in the arena of high stakes gambling?

Production team: Director: Bryan Storkel; Producers: Jason Connell, Amy Storkel; DP: Brian Liepe; Editor: Bryan Storkel

About the film: "When I first heard about this blackjack team, I knew that this was one of those stories that had to be told. Not only were these interesting people doing something different, but they were also people that had grown up in traditional Christian churches that taught against the very thing that they were doing. I immediately saw the conflict in the story; the struggle between the beliefs they were taught, and the new ways in which they were living out their faith." - Bryan Storkel

Current status: The film is in the final stages of post-production and will world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival.

For more information and to support the film: Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $4,000 by the end of the campaign (May 16).

This article is related to: Features, Filmmaker Toolkit, In The Works