It takes passion to make films right? Well this couple has passion! Late last year, we featured a movie being made where the family sold their home to finance their movie (see ““Dimensions: a line, a loop, a tangle of threads” and an HDSLR feature film” – it is a week long series of 5 posts) – today, we feature 95ers: Echoes – a movie over 5 years in production where the family has done everything they can think of to finance their production and are still hoping to get a little more funding (donate).
Thomas and Alesandra Durham even had 2 children while trying to complete 95ers: Echoes. Interestingly Alesandra plays the lead role and her character is pregnant in the movie, so having the 2 kids fit in perfectly with filming. That's dedication!
Tom tells us about 95ers: Echos
It's a crazy wonderful project made on credit cards and donations, packed with VFX, and sure to the be the delight of sci-fi lovers everywhere! It got it's first big lump of exposure (TV, mashable, etc.) when it became a bit of a sensation on kickstarter, after about the 14th time we went broke trying to finish it. Now it's practically done and we're courting distributors.
We started the movie on Varicam, which was great. But then the DSLR revolution came, and I could BUY a 7D for the price of a couple Varicam rentals. So I did. Much of the highest-end stuff in the movie–including time machine miniatures and fancy VFX were shot 7D, thanks to the lovely variety of lenses we snagged from lensrentals. Many big sequences were shot by myself alone, or just a crewman or two, long into the night with a 7D, a couple of lights, and vats of indie gusto.
It's taken five years to get this far, and the DSLR revolution (I was first inspired by Philip B's 5D short (the one with the helicopter and the lady in red?) and held my breath until the cheaper 7d came out) played a huge role. I used to not shoot my own stuff… but need forced me to learn to do it and ease of DSLR shooting helped quite a bit.
Anyway, I've pasted in the official press release (which will be pretty hilarious to indie filmmakers), but you can also watch the awesome BTS video (shot DSLR on a sci-fi set of course :):
Mitch, you've got THE BEST HDSLR SITE ON THE PLANET. This is THE BEST INDIE SCI-FI FEATURE ON THE PLANET. A perfect marriage!
Thanks Tom for those kind words!
a couple of their behind the scenes videos
Interview with Tom:
An update in Dec 2011
Their press release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
LOCAL HUSBAND-WIFE TEAM MAKE EPIC SCI-FI MOVIE FROM THEIR BASEMENT
Jan. 23, 2012 – A new sci-fi movie trailer just hit YouTube. It's packed with fancy special effects, cryptic villains, and cosmic mysteries… and it was made on credit cards, donations, and the kind of guts and determination you only see in over-the-top movies.
In the basement of Thomas and Alesandra Durham’s home you'll find futuristic body armor, high-tech gadgets, cryptic diaries penned by mad scientists, tangles of computer hardware, and schematics of time machines… all part of 95ers, an epic new science fiction movie. Over the last five years, this eccentric couple, along with a ragtag team of filmmakers and enthusiasts, have been scrimping, saving, mortgaging, and filming their way towards completion of a full-length sci-fi flick. With the release of the movie trailer and with talks beginning with distributors, the project is finally seeing the light at the end of the TimeSpace continuum.
95ers is a sci-fi thriller with a spiritual core. It's The Time Machine meets X-Files, with a good dash of The Matrix and a pinch of A Christmas Carol for good measure. Packed with special effects and trips to the 27th century, Echoes is an extraordinarily ambitious project for such a tiny budget (around $200,000)—less than a typical Hollywood film goes through in a single day of production. For another frame of reference, the indie film sensation Napoleon Dynamite costed around $300K, and it was filmed all in the 21st century! In 95ers, new technologies, guerilla tactics, creativity, extreme perseverance, and buckets of elbow grease are delivering production values and special effects you'd see in popular TV shows, and even the big screen.
Perhaps the most obvious example of the indie-filmmakers-meet-picket-fence-suburbanites phenomenon (and the Durham’s actually do have a white picket fence) is Alesandra's tummy. She plays the lead role in the movie, FBI agent Sally Biggs, who is pregnant. For the first round of shooting, Alesandra was pregnant with the Durham's third child. But then it took 18 months to scrounge up enough money for the next round of shooting—when she was pregnant with the Durham's fourth child. It's probably safe to say that very few filmmakers have gone to those lengths for continuity and authenticity!
Professionally, Tom works as a producer/director of corporate video, commercials, and tv shows. Alesandra has appeared in various commercials and indie films. Also associated with the project is Hollywood special effects pro (and brother-in-law) Clark Schaffer, whose credits span from Star Trek: Generations to Iron Man 2. Clark is “old school,” constructing the very unique time machine seen in the movie as a good ‘ol fashioned miniature, instead of the typical CG that seems a bit overused today. And the results are stunning.
Having more than tapped out their own resources the Durhams have received some $20,000 in donations from sci-fi nuts and empathetic dreamers from all over the world, through kickstarter and 95ers.com. “People are just awesome,” says producer/director Thomas Durham. “They love the movie's story, and they love our crazy story. People want to watch cooler, more interesting movies, and they want to help get them made. With today's technology, it's possible.”
As the villain in 95ers cryptically states: “What I'm telling you is the tip of the tip of the iceberg.” So apparently it is with indie sci-fi—basement studio and all—since this movie is the first of five planned installments! (The plan however, is that the next four will be fully funded by outside sources!) For a sneak peek at this amazing project go to: www.95ers.com.
Tom Durham, TimeSpace Outreach Department
Space Ace Media, LLC
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(cover photo credit: snap from the video)