Friday, December 23, 2016

The Boy with the Golden Pants (2014) - Foreign Film Friday


Number Rolled: 33
Movie Name/Year: The Boy with the Golden Pants (2014)
Tagline: None
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family, Fantasy
Length: 99 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: Cosmo Film, Tre Vanner Produktion AB
Producer: Jessica Ask, Annica Bellander, Lone Korslund, Åsa Sjöberg, Pontus Sjöman, Olof Spaak, Rasmus Thorsen, Fredrik Wikström
Director: Ella Lemhagen
Writer: Ella Lemhagen, Max Lundgren, Fredrik Wikström
Actors: Shanti Roney, Annika Hallin, Kurt Ravn, Nina Sand, Jimmy Lindström, Kola Krauze, Lotta Karlge, Mats Blomgren, Svante Ahman, Lukas Holgersson, Pontus Eklof, Olle Krantz, Mats Andersson, Stella Rauan Norrthon
Stunt Doubles: Carl Hansson, Rasmus Holmberg, Miranda Karnet, Einar Qvick

Languages
Speech Available: Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Swedish
Subtitles Available: German, Italian, Spanish, French, English

Blurb from Netflix: When I good-natured boy finds a pair of magical pants that produces a bottomless supply of cash, he soon finds himself being pursued by villains.

Selina’s Point of View:
This has been a phenomenal week for our movies here on Trust the Dice. All three of our films were family films. All three of them were magical or sci-fi in some way. All three of them were awesome.

Originally, I began to think that The Boy with the Golden Pants was pretty much a bit of a copy of Blank Check (1994), but it wound up taking some hard turns that made the entire story look and feel insanely different. Aside from the fact that it was incredibly dark for a family genre film, the story was really good with foreshadowing.

I’ll be honest, I wish this was the first film we had to review for the new Foreign Film Fridays because it was not only a great film, but I can actually see the differences between this movie and the kind that we would release here. No family film in the US would have naked butt in it.

The aforementioned American film, Blank Check, took a goofy look at what would happen if a kid got an unlimited amount of money. Even when the bad guys got involved, there were no jump scares and ‘dark’ is not a word anyone would use to describe any part of that film. The Boy with the Golden Pants definitely took a different spin.


I’m going to forget that I’m apparently a pre-teen boy at heart, (I would have bought the EXACT stuff he did if the same thing happened to me), and just go straight into the darkness. The bad guys were not clumsy, oafish, ha-ha villains; they were BAD. There was an actual jump scare in the film that caught me because who the fuck expects that in a family film? There was even some cursing – in fact, one of the few English lines in the film was ‘what the fuck’ and it took me a moment to realize I wasn’t just thinking the subtitles loudly. I went a little stupid for a moment there.

The differences in the movie-making culture were so apparent that it was a learning experience for me.

Moving on.

It’s going to take me a while to catch on to voice tones where foreign language acting is concerned, but visually the actors ranged from decent to great. I didn’t lose any of the emotional impact just because I had to rely on subtitles, I really appreciated that.

I have very little bad to say about The Boy with the Golden Pants. There were a couple of plot holes near the end that were a little jarring to me, but that wasn’t enough to fuck with my focus.

This is one of the first subtitled films, outside of the anime genre, that I would actually recommend and watch again.

Cat’s Point of View:
This movie is exactly what I was hoping for when we started Foreign Film Fridays. I’m going to forget that last Friday’s movie ever existed and this one is going to be my personal official kick-off film. Seriously.

I think one of the advantages to watching foreign films like this is that it deposits us squarely out of the comfort zone of recognized faces and places (for the most part). I spent a few minutes pondering if the actor playing Zeke was the same that portrays Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones (2011-). (He’s not.) Other than that, everyone in the cast was a blank slate for me. My brain wasn’t busy making connections and having fangirl moments, and was more involved in experiencing the movie.


As far as the format of this film goes, I was very appreciative that the subtitles were easy to read and presented below the movie on the screen.

My eyes aren’t the best – even with very strong corrective lenses – so having to pick out fast-moving text against the backdrop of a film drives me absolutely crazy. I spend more time trying to read than I do getting to enjoy what I’m watching. That wasn’t the case here. It was easy to follow, and the text was presented at a good pace.

The story was a bit on the predictable side, once the premise was set up for you – but I didn’t care.

Where the last movie almost had me asleep in my chair, this one had me on the edge of my seat. There are some serious feels laced in with this adventure story, and some moral backbone behind it all.

This film left me with an uplifted feeling of warmth. I enjoyed it very much and would gladly recommend it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 1.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

P.S. Based on a book by Max Lundgren.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Home (2015)


Number Rolled: 51
Movie Name/Year: Home (2015)
Tagline: Worlds collide.
Genre: Family, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: DreamWorks Animation
Producer: Suzanne Buirgy, Christopher Jenkins, Mireille Soria
Director: Tim Johnson
Writer: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember, Adam Rex
Actors: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones, Brian Stepanek, April Lawrence, Stphen Kearin, Lisa Stewart, April Winchell, Nigel W. Tierney
Stunt Doubles: N/A

Languages
Speech Available: English, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Blurb from Netflix: When a lovable misfit from another planet and a human girl form and unlikely friendship, they embark on an incredible journey that changed their lives.

Selina’s Point of View:
Home was absolutely nothing like what I expected. Nothing. Even the plot was completely different than I thought it would be from the trailer I saw (this film made my top 20 for the month it came out).

Despite that, my feelings on the film were… complicated.

For the majority of Home, I was running cold. My attention was wavering. I couldn’t help but feel like I had seen it before. The story might have been relatively newish, but the characters were tropes personified. In fact, this film really owes a debt of gratitude to Lilo and Stitch (2002). The characters would not exist without that predecessor.

It was very difficult for me to stay focused because the characters were not very unique. I’d rather have a recipe story with unique characters that give a different spin on it, than a new story with recipe characters that you can predict every step of.


However, now that the film is over, I find myself feeling fulfilled and remembering it fondly.

I imagine that makes no sense to someone that hasn’t seen it.

The fact is, once Home was a little more than half over, it picked up in speed so much that ‘roller coaster of emotions’ isn’t enough to aptly describe what I felt. I have officially been run over by the feels train and am trying to write all this with teary eyes.

I would likely recommend this film in the future, I just wish the rest of the film could have matched the awesomeness of the last portion.

Oh, one more thing. Hats off to the music department. What a phenomenal job those men and women did. Not just on the quality of the music chosen, but on the risks they took. Well done. They’re the true MVPs of this movie.

Cat’s Point of View:
We were a little bummed that we didn’t end up with a Christmas movie this week for one of our reviews prior to the holiday. Even so, we were both jazzed that we hit the animated jackpot this week.

I have good news for you, though, and am rather confident that this spoils nothing in the telling – Home is a Christmas movie. Of course, it’s rather subtle and along the same vein that makes Die Hard (1988) a Christmas Movie.  When you watch it, you’ll see. I started cackling when the realization hit me as I was watching with my daughter; and she looked at me like I was nuts. It was so worth it!

This movie is based on a book by Adam Rex (Almost Home, Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh) called The True Meaning of Smekday. I haven’t read the book (I may need to correct that in the future), but that sounds an awful lot like “the true meaning of Christmas” phrase that often gets bandied about this time of year.

The film was also originally scheduled for a November release, but then got flip-flopped with another movie that had an established franchise that would be more solid for holiday box-office numbers.


Back to the movie!

I love the alien-encounter sub-genre of sci-fi movies. It’s a question that burns in quite a lot of us – what would happen when or if we’re visited by beings from another world? This movie has an entertaining take on that answer. Beneath all the fun and shenanigans, there’s some pretty powerful messages and some parallels that could be drawn within our own history.

I also enjoy that the Boov have a unique and interesting technology. I am pretty sure that I haven’t seen anything like it used before.

Aside from her part in the music, I was surprisingly pleased with Rihanna’s (This Is the End, Annie, Bates Motel) performance here. This was definitely some redemption for her after that other alien invasion nautical-themed movie loosely inspired by a board game.

The pairing of Steve Martin (Shopgirl, The Pink Panther, It's Complicated) as Smek and Jim Parsons (Gardener of Eden, The Muppets, Hidden Figures) was also a stroke of brilliance. I don’t think I could imagine anyone else in either of those roles.

This wasn’t my first time watching Home, nor will it be my last.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 47%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 64%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

P.S. There are cute ‘photos’ throughout part of the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Minions (2015)


Number Rolled: 13
Movie Name/Year: Minions (2015)
Tagline: Uh oh.
Genre: Family, Comedy
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Illumination Entertainment, Universal Pictures
Producer: Janet Healy, Brett Hoffman, Christopher Meledandri, Chris Renaud, Dave Rosenbaum, Robert Taylor
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
Writer: Brian Lynch
Actors: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Katy Mixon, Michael Beattle, Dave Rosenbaum, Alex Dowding, Mindy Sterling, Tara Strong, Zachary Alexander Rice, Hiroyuki Sanada
Stunt Doubles: N/A

Languages
Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Blurb from Netflix: The banana-yellow, linguistically garbled henchmen of “Despicable Me” star in this prequel, recounting the story of their villain-worshipping history.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’ve been saving this film for the blog and it’s been KILLING me. I love the series it’s from and I’ve been dying to see it – but I wanted the blog to get my first reaction. A few more months and I would have given in.

I thought this film was absolutely adorable. I knew it would be, of course, that was never the question. The only questions that really mattered going into this film was whether or not the story would be decent and if it would work as the prequel it was meant to be.

Oh, and if anyone would be able to understand what the hell was going on. Minions don’t exactly come with subtitles.

I found that the film was actually really easy to follow, the storyline was good, and it was a hell of a prequel. In fact, as a prequel it definitely was one of the best I’ve seen. There weren’t any glaring errors or issues of continuity.


All that said, I did prefer the original Despicable Me (2010) and Despicable Me 2 (2013). I think both of those movies were highly creative and hilarious. I could watch them back-to-back on any given day.

There was a part of Minions, however, that was… eerie. Like the writers could see into the future. I know it was supposed to be an amusing/funny moment, but I found it relatively impossible to laugh at. It would have been much funnier before the election.

I don’t think I’ll wait to see Despicable Me 3 (2017). That may require a theater trip.

Cat’s Point of View:
This wasn’t my first time to watch this movie, though I was overjoyed when the dice landed on this one. I’d gladly watch it many more times. Needless to say, I loved the movie.

This is one of those that no matter how many times you watch it over again, you’re likely to find something new you didn’t notice in prior viewings. This film is jam-packed with little ‘hidden’ nuggets of geekdom via “cameos” and references to both the Despicable Me (2010/2014) movies, other cartoons (both print and animated), as well as actual tidbits from pop culture and ‘reality.’ For example, the carpet from the Overlook Hotel in The Shining (1980) makes an appearance; as well as a little teddy bear that would make Mr. Bean (1990-1995) jealous due to the fact it’s nearly identical to his own.

Aside from all the little bits that inspire an exclamation of ‘hey, wait, was that [insert aforementioned ‘nugget’ here],’ the movie was adorable, inventive, and hilarious. This movie answers the question that everyone had to be asking themselves after watching the Despicable Me movies – where did those Minions come from?!

One of the non-spoiler answers to that question is one of the directors of the movie - Pierre Coffin (Pat et Stanley, Despicable Me, Brad & Gary). He single-handedly voiced all of the Minions seen in the movie. Talk about a Herculean task and surely a labor of love. This film is said to boast over 800 of the little yellow guys.


Sandra Bullock (Two Weeks Notice, All About Steve, The Blind Side) and John Hamm (The A-Team, Friends with Kids, Shrek Forever After) were sensational in their roles and made a fabulous dastardly dynamic duo as Scarlett and Herb Overkill. This was Bullock’s first villain role. It will be interesting to see if she opts to join the dark side in future movies, now that she’s sampled the cookies.

I had a personal giggle over the role for Hiroyuki Sanada (Lost, 47 Ronin, Helix). He’s always in super serious projects – often samurai-type roles and sci-fi. It was great to see him in a role with a bit of humor to it as the sumo-wrestler.

My final note is for parents and those contemplating how appropriate this movie is for varying ages of kids. I remember that when the trailers were first running for this film, the selection of clips it showed were put together in such a way that it seemed like the movie would be full of innuendo and inappropriate content. I am pleased to say that is not the case. The MPAA gave it a PG rating for action and rude humor – but the ‘suggestive’ variety of humor is practically nonexistent.

Minions has fun for the whole family to enjoy again and again.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 56%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 49%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

P.S. There are small scenes throughout the credits and one long scene after.

Movie Trailer:

Sunday, December 18, 2016

This Week in Crowdfunding (12/18)

By: Selina


Through “This Week in Crowdfunding,” you’ll find five of the best projects Trust the Dice found hosted on crowdfunding sights this week. These are Films/Web Series’/Shows of varying lengths and genres that we believe in. If you like any of the projects you see here, donate to them, tell your friends, and/or post it on social media.

These projects don’t just need money, they need people to care and spread the word that they exist.

Support creativity. Support indie artists.

Remember that every actor, director, writer, and movie you have ever fallen in love with had to start somewhere.

Trust the Dice does not, and will not, accept payment from project creators for
Appearance on this list. Projects are chosen solely on the merit of the idea,
proposal, and people involved.


Trust the Dice will be going on vacation starting December 24. We will return on January 2 with our Top 20 Movies to Look Out For in January.


5 – OddySee


Crowdsource Platform: KICKSTARTER
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown
Other Staff: Unknown
Amount Requested: $3,500
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $1,310 raised by 9 backers.
Type of Goal: All or Nothing – This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by the deadline.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little hesitant to add this project to the list at all. However, it was the only other film I found that would fit in this fifth spot. It does have a cute plot idea and their Kickstarter page is well laid out, which makes it easy to see where your money is going. On top of that, their introductory film is engaging and funny.

My hesitance does not come from the fact that OddySee is being created by a student club, most of the films I find for this list are being made by students. My issue is that there doesn’t seem to be much information on who’s in, or working on, this film.

In the introductory video, you see the faces of people working on OddySee, but only get first names. I can’t tell you the full name of the writer, director, or anyone else. I attempted to get in touch with them to fill in the information gaps, but no one ever got back to me. Unfortunately, all I can tell you is speculation at this point.

The negatives out of the way, the plot does look interesting. It’s not the most unique idea, but they put a spin on it that makes it much more interesting in general. I know that, if this were a film coming out in theaters, it might very well be something I would want to pay to see.

Lowest Fund Reward: $5 – Pledge $5 or More – Shout Out/Thank You on the Production Club at UWM Facebook page and access to all behind the scenes footage and pictures.
Highest Fund Reward: $1,000 – Pledge $1,000 or More – A date night on the location with the producers, directors, and writer, and all previous rewards.

4 – Minds at War

Crowdsource Platform: INDIEGOGO
Director: Dom Tugby
Writer: Carl Bradshaw
Other Staff: Jamie Lee-Hill (Cast), Sean Pogmore (Cast), Ewen Macintosh (Cast), Jack Gover (Cast), Chad Echakowitz (Cast), Solomon Taiwo Justified (Cast), Steve McCarten (Cast)
Amount Requested: $6,244
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $662 raised by 6 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible – The campaign will receive all funds raised even if it does not reach its goal.

There will never be too many entertainment projects based in World War II. The lessons the world learned from the atrocities of that time should never be forgotten. That being said, a subject alone does not make or break a project.

Although the writer and director are both on the new side, according to IMDB, the majority of the main cast have a great deal more experience. That means they’ll be prepared with the knowledge they need to represent their given characters in a way that is sure to evoke emotions.

Perhaps the most important thing about this film is that it’s not just looking at the time of World War II in general, but about the way people interacted with each other during that time.

Minds at War tackles pressing issues such as racism, starvation, and illness at war,” the Indiegogo site explains. At the very least, the first issue listed there is something that is very prevalent in today’s society. The more light shined on it, the better.

As for the web series, you can see exactly how well it’s laid out on the Indiegogo page. The creators are very specific as to what money will go where and their charity connections – something Trust the Dice always likes to support. They’ve also been featured in Digital Film Maker Magazine.

Although it seems like just a nice little tidbit, the real reason the magazine’s interest means anything is that people who know what they’re talking about have taken an interest in Minds at War. When you combine that with the experience of the cast and the intrigue of the plot, you have a recipe for success.

Lowest Fund Reward: $6 – A Special Thank You – You’re receive a special thank you from the team at ‘Minds at War’ across our social media channels, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Highest Fund Reward: $1,249 – Become an Executive Producer – Become an Executive Producer on the Production of Minds at War. Join the team on set and become part of the action sharing your input on vital series moments. You will receive an official IMDB credit. This will also include all of the previous perks stated.

3 – The Night Cleaner


Crowdsource Platform: INDIEGOGO
Director: Zoe Ward
Writer: Zoe Ward
Other Staff: Pratik Shah (Cinematographer), Arkesh Ajay (Producer), Annie Pace (Producer), Gayatri Bajpai (Assistant Director), Jien Sun (Costume Designer), Naomi Gonzalez Kahn (Production Designer)
Amount Requested: $24,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $4,315 raised by 35 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible – The campaign will receive all funds raised even if it does not reach its goal.

I was immediately attracted to this film. It actually took me all week to decide if I was personally attracted to it, or if I truly believed the film could be successful. In the end, I realized it was both.

The story really speaks to me on a deeper level, even though it seems to lean toward drama as a genre, which is not my favorite. That look at the connection of two people spurned by society feels like home for me where entertainment is concerned.

What strikes me as the most important thing I learned from the Indiegogo page and the introductory video, is that the entire crew of The Night Cleaner seems to have a significant and unarguable faith in the writer/director, Zoe Ward. It helps to raise faith in a project when everyone involved believes so heavily in the person in charge.

As for the page itself, it’s highly informative. You know where your money’s going and the perks are eye-catching.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to reach Ward for an interview, and I truly regret that. I wish I had something more to say on her project than just what you can learn on her page. It seems like this film could become something amazing.

Lowest Fund Reward: $10 – Heartwarmer – You are now part of the Night Cleaner family. You’ll get a shout-out on Facebook and regular updates from the production team.
Highest Fund Reward: $5,000 – Executive Producer – The name says it all! Receive an Executive Producer credit, come visit us on set and receive all other perks on offer.

2 – Silicon Beach


Crowdsource Platform: INDIEGOGO
Director: Max Gold
Writer: Max Gold
Other Staff: Stephen Tringali (Cinematographer), Max Silver (Producer)
Amount Requested: $20,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $50 raised by 3 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible – The campaign will receive all funds raised even if it does not reach its goal.

Originally, Silicon Beach was a little lower on my list, but after getting to speak with writer/director Max Gold, I knew it needed to be higher.

This feature film is a thriller that takes a look at the anxieties of a group of young professionals as they attempt to build their startup business. The plot alone sounds interesting, but it’s difficult to really look deeper into it until you watch the introductory video.


The video on the Indiegogo page is a great teaser for the film and it supports the simple idea mentioned in the overview enough that it makes everything that much easier to picture.

One of the facts about this film that make it seem like it is such a small risk for investors, is that it is already complete. All the money being raised through crowdfunding is going directly to post-production; things like editing and composing.

I was able to get a phone call with Max Gold on Saturday afternoon. He seemed happy to be discussing this film and, after only a few moments it was easy to tell why.

Gold has a significant amount of passion for Silicon Beach and, from everything he told me, even more faith in his cast and crew.

“I just want to underline the fact that this film was made by a community,” Gold told me. “Every single person involved was committed and excited to bring this to life.”


One of the things I asked Gold was about his inspiration for the film.

He told me a story about how he worked side tech jobs while making films for over a decade, which allowed him to understand the startup world very well. He took that knowledge and combined it with his own personal experiences. The anxiety he drew from to create Silicon Beach was from knowing that he was working those tech jobs, but was unable to really commit to them. He was, essentially, leading two lives.

Every morning, he was spending several hours writing his scripts, then he would have to go to work exhausted and try to do what he was supposed to. All the while, making any real work friends was difficult for him, because he wasn’t there for the career, he was there only because he wasn’t able to exist solely on his film work yet.

Anyone with any kind of creative ambition probably relates to that story on a very deep level. I know I do.


He went on to explain about a previous project, one that he had to rely on others for. It was a larger budget film that got delayed because the people financing it weren’t as helpful as they should have been. When creativity is stifled by a lack of funds, it easily fuels rage and rebellion. Silicon Beach is the manifestation of that rebellion. Proof that Gold and his crew were capable of putting together something spectacular without having to rely on a giant budget to get through it.

We all know how I feel about the importance of rebellion, so I’ll just add here that learning the inspiration for Silicon Beach was another reason why I knew it needed to be higher on this list.

One of the other interesting aspects of Silicon Beach is the method Gold decided to use for perks. I noticed that the films Indiegogo page split the perks into two different categories: for the audience and for fellow movie makers.

According to Gold, he’s noticed in the past that sometimes people would donate money to his project and want something other than the perk offered – like direction and advice from someone more experienced than them. On the other hand, there were just as many laymen that only wanted to put some money toward helping along a film they thought looked pretty cool.

After seeing this method, I think it’s something more creators should look into.

In the end, I can’t wait to see what Gold and his team do with this film. I’m betting it’s going to be phenomenal.

Lowest Fund Reward: $10 – Thank You Tweet – A thank you tweet. Tweeted to 35,000+ followers by director Max Gold (@blindhummingbrd)
Highest Fund Reward: $5,000 – Executive Producer Credit – An ‘Executive Producer’ credit on the film. This perk includes: -IMDB credit –invitation to cast and crew screenings –invitation to visit the editing suite during post-production –invitation to the LA premiere (flight and accommodations not included.) Congratulations and welcome to our team!

1 – Focus


Crowdsource Platform: KICKSTARTER
Director: AJ Winters
Writer: AJ Winters, Stephen Fletcher
Other Staff: Kelly Renata (Line Producer), Jacob Abercromby (Director of Photography), Mark Flanders (Music), Shannon Rogers (Cast), Mabel Foong (Cast), Reece Bagrowski (Cast), Mike Moshos (Cast), Keegan Zykowski (Cast), Flavia Marini (Cast), Teddy O’Hearn (Production Assistant), John Reid (Production Assistant), Stephen Fletcher (Production Assistant), Jonathan Giles (Production Assistant), Ashleigh Barrow (Production Assistant), Biance Roose (Costume Designer), Alex Roussel (Costume Designer), Justine Hinz (Script Supervisor), Mitchell McKenna (Editor), Philip Healey (SFX), Amelia Robinson (Graphic Designer), Robin Cook (Graphic Designer), Karlien Kemp (Graphic Designer)
Amount Requested: $1,460
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $74.52 raised by 3 backers.
Type of Goal: All or Nothing – This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by the deadline.

This web series immediately caught my eye. It has a solid plot and its introductory video was an interesting teaser trailer. I had no idea that between the moment when I chose this project and when I’d write the article, they would release the actual pilot on YouTube.

I watched the pilot the moment I finished talking to the director, AJ Winters.

The first thing I can comment on is the quality of the pilot. I’ve seen original pilots for popular TV shows that didn’t exhibit the kind of quality Focus had. I’ll avoid the obvious pun here, but I will say I was very impressed. At the end of the episode, I wanted to see more, I wanted to know more. It was such an understated video, but it served its purpose well.

What makes the quality of that pilot even more incredible is that the cast and crew of Focus are all on the young side. Winters told me that the majority of people working on the film are between 16 and 30 years old.

Trust the Dice loves to support indie projects and we love to support youth in creating entertainment even more. The future of films, series’, and everything else, comes from youth and people willing to take the chances that mainstream entertainment doesn’t encourage. In this case, Focus meets both those requirements.


I believe that web series’, like those based on YouTube, are going the way of Netflix. There are so many unique, interesting projects being created on the platform that it is impossible to ignore completely.

I’m aware that it might be a little scary to offer funding to a project run primarily by younger, less experienced people, but I’ll say it again: everyone starts somewhere. You can choose to only support people with greater levels of experience, but I believe that’s a mistake that keeps the entertainment world from growing.

When I asked Winters if she had anything she wanted you to know, she said:

“We are 100% dedicated to making this show possible and I will continue to strive to make it so. This Kickstarter is just the beginning for us, and hopefully, with the help of sponsors and pledge donations, we will be able to film Season 1 of FOCUS next year. I want to facilitate and make the dreams of my cast and crew a reality and therefore I won't stop until this succeeds.”

I know their perks don’t start until a relatively high number, but you can make smaller pledges that will garner a thank you from the series creators.

Lowest Fund Reward: $200 – Skype call with the cast – If you pledge over $200 we would like to thank you personally with a Skype call with our leading cast. You’ll get to meet them and ask them any of your questions about the filming process!

Highest Fund Reward: $1,000 – Be a part of Focus – If you pledge over $1,000 we would love to get you on board with our show! Always wanted to do a little acting? How about spending a day behind the scenes? Or maybe you’re a bit of a creative writer yourself and want to contribute to the script writing process? We want to give you the opportunity to be involved in the creative process! 

Friday, December 16, 2016

To Kill a Man (2014) - Foreign Film Friday


Number Rolled: 42
Movie Name/Year: To Kill a Man (2014)
Tagline: Revenge is sour.
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Length: 82 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Arizona Films, El Remanso
Producer: Eduardo Villalobos, Guillaume de Seille
Director: Alejandro Fernández Almendras
Writer: Alejandro Fernández Almendras
Actors: Daniel Candia, Alejandra Yañez, Daniel Antivilo, Ariel Mateluna, Jennifer Salas, Don Willie, Paula Leoncini, Daniel Urrutia, Eduardo Villalobos, Sol Banoviez
Stunt Doubles: N/A

Languages
Speech Available: Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Blurb from Netflix: The thugs that have taken over Jorge’s middle-class neighborhood push the mild-mannered family man to the brink when they mug him and shoot his son.

Selina’s Point of View:
This movie was a very poor start to our new Foreign Film Fridays. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure whatever the festivals saw in this movie was very educational and technically sound but that doesn’t mean a damn thing for entertainment value.

Where entertainment value is concerned, there was none.

I was literally bored to tears. You know when you have those yawning attacks that start to make your eyes watery? Yeah.


I get what the creators were trying to do with the lack of sound during certain scenes, but it didn’t succeed. Instead of forcing a feeling of suspense, it just made me lose focus and become less interested in what was going on.

There’s are plenty of true stories out there that make phenomenal movies, but this isn’t one of them. Just because something really happened, doesn’t mean there’s enough interest there to keep people watching.

This is a film that could have benefited from being a short instead of a feature. I definitely wouldn’t watch it again.

Cat’s Point of View:
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this movie.

I think the very beginning of the film prior to the title is a good indicator for the rest of the film – slow and drawn out with dramatic music.

I ended up feeling really squirmy and antsy during this movie because I was bored out of my mind; but I couldn’t look away to fidget or I’d miss what was going on.


I’m not sure that this really falls into the ‘thriller’ genre. It does fall squarely into the crime drama zone. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the sort of drama that I enjoy.

The movie claims to be based on a true story. While I can respect that, and conditions in the depicted area of the world aren’t as fortunate as where I call home; I don’t generally choose to watch movies that leave such a bleak feeling in their wake.

Not only was I not entertained, I failed to feel a profound impact from the story that would make the time spent with this drama more worthwhile.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 53%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score1/5

The Random Rating: PG-13

P.S. Based on a true story.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Late Phases (2014)


Number Rolled: 17
Movie Name/Year: Late Phases (2014)
Tagline: The hunt is on.
Genre: Horror
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Dark Sky Films, Glass Eye Pix, Site B
Producer: Hamza Ali, Joel Alonso, Larry Fessenden, Luis Flores, Brent Kunkle, Greg Newman, Lex Ortega, Andrea Quiroz, Zak Zeman
Director: Adrián García Bogliano
Writer: Eric Stolze
Actors: Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, Lance Guest, Erin Commings, Rutanya Alda, Tom Noonan, Tina Louise, Caitlin O’Heaney, Karen Lynn Gorney, Al Spienza, Bernardo Cubria, Dana Ashbrook, Charles Techman, Hythem Noor, Larry Fessenden, Frances Sherman, Karron Graves, Kareem Savinon, Pun Bandhu, Ralph Cashen, Raina
Stunts: Bryce Burke, Pete Klein, Mariusz Kubicki, Anthony Vincent

Blurb from Netflix: After several of his neighbors are killed by savage dog attacks, a blind Vietnam vet starts to believe that a vicious supernatural force is at work.

Selina’s Point of View:
I enjoy B-movies and I love werewolf mythology. Needless to say, I was super interested in seeing this film when it came up.

I figured Late Phases would be typical and trope-y with a werewolf costume so bad you could see the zipper in it. But I also thought it might fall into the realm of that ‘so bad it’s good’ category. I don’t mind those films. I don’t watch movies to judge techniques. I watch them to be entertained.

However, Late Phases was NOTHING like I thought it would be. Sure, the werewolf costume wasn’t the greatest I’ve ever seen, but they did a hell of a lot with the transformation.

The acting for this film was pretty good. I grew attached to the main character, despite the fact that he was not a likable man. And, can we just talk about the setting and focus characters?

When I read the Netflix blurb I thought the film would be set at an earlier time, right after the Vietnam War. I had NO idea the main characters would be elderly. You don’t see that done often. The last horror film Trust the Dice reviewed that had several elderly actors playing main characters was in Cockneys vs. Zombies (2012). Even then, there were plenty of younger adults to accompany them.


A nearly all elderly cast is pretty much unheard of for this kind of storyline.

I was impressed. There were a few plot holes, and someone trained in gun use held his weapon like a gangster teen that learned to shoot from rap videos once – that bugged me, but I still enjoyed the movie.

To be honest, this may have been the most unique film that I’ve seen in a very long time. The creators took only the tropes that generally ‘have to’ come with a werewolf (transformation, silver bullets, full moon, bites, etc.), and absolutely spit on the rest of them.

I would recommend this film to anyone that’s a fan of werewolf stories. Just, keep in mind, the story is a slow burn.

Cat’s Point of View:
After a really long day, I was looking forward to watching this movie. I was pretty sure that the B-creature feature would let my brain disconnect from the last few days. I have to say, I got more than I expected.

This film elicited a strange dichotomy of response from me. On one hand, I loved it – on the other, there were parts that I didn’t enjoy. I’ll start with the negative so we can leave off on the good note!

Sometimes it just felt like the movie was meandering aimlessly – the blind main character seemed to move with more purpose at points. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the creature aesthetic. However, it wasn’t too horrible.

If the production team here was going for a throwback feel to movies like The Howling (1981) then they nailed it. For a movie released in 2014; somehow I was expecting more.  Then again, the wolves in the Underworld (2003) look a little funny to me, too. Maybe I’m just picky.


On to the good!

This movie was surprisingly engrossing for me. I wasn’t even tempted to fiddle with my phone so much because I didn’t want to look away. I loved the main character, Ambrose. Nick Damici (Never Down, Stake Land, Premium Rush) knocked that out of the park. There was something about him that was just compelling beyond the fact that his character was blind. I bought what he was selling, though he struck me more as the ‘get off my lawn’ type.

I also loved the complicated relationship between Ambrose and his son, Will, played by Ethan Embry (Armed Response, The Guest, Convergence). I felt like I wanted more screen time for Embry but he did make the most of the moments he had.

Lance Guest (Jericho, The Least of These, 21 and a Wake-Up) was an interesting addition to the cast. He’s come a long way from his role as Alex in The Last Starfighter (1984) or one of the Brody boys in Jaws: The Revenge (1987). Obviously that’s quite a gap of time between then and now but I almost didn’t recognize him at all. I don’t suppose that’s a bad thing, all things considered.

I think this movie has more to offer than nostalgia factor and I would feel reasonably comfortable in giving this movie a recommendation to fans of the genre.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 69%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 43%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Random Rating - PG-13 

Movie Trailer:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015)


Number Rolled: 59
Movie Name/Year: Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015)
Tagline: The giant, man-eating graboids are back and even deadlier.
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Capacity Relations, Universal 1440 Entertainment
Producer: Ogden Gavanski, Lisa Gooding, Alan Shearer
Director: Don Michael Paul
Writer: William Truesmith, M.A. Deuce, John Whelpley, C.J. Strebor
Actors: Brandon Auret, Natalie Becker, Emmanuel Castis, Michael Gross, Daniel Janks, Jamie Kennedy, Ernest Ndlovu, Rea Rangaka, Zak Hendrikz, Lawrence Joffe, Ian Roberts, Sello Sebotsane, Wayne Smith, Matthys Kuhn, Pearl Thusi, Nolitha Zulu,
Stunt Doubles: Dylan Davidson (Jamie Kennedy), Janine Terblanche (Jamie Kennedy), Owen Macrae (Michael Gross)

Blurb from Netflix: When he is hired to capture a deadly creature terrorizing South Africa, survivalist Burt Gummer brings along a new tech-savvy partner.

Selina’s Point of View:
I have to say something super weird right now.

That was like… a real movie.

I mean, all creature features are technically real movies. Actors, directors, writers, etc. When something like this comes up, however, I expect to sit down to a basic-shot, badly acted, campy piece of entertainment. Not really something I would ever have tried to see in theaters, but amusing enough to either be background noise or hold my attention for at least certain parts.

What I just saw was the kind of movie that I may have wanted to see in theaters (if it hadn’t been a straight to DVD thing).

The Tremors (1990-2015) series is a guilty pleasure of mine. I’ve seen the first four, and they’re kind of basic for B-movie creature features. They’re good for people like me who enjoy that kind of stuff. Tremors 5: Bloodlines really kicked things up a notch or two.

From the upgraded monster visuals to the much different cinematography, everything was better in this film. I love the series in general, but after seeing Tremors 5: Bloodlines, I can’t help but wonder if the franchise would have had Jurassic Park levels of popularity if the rest of the films had been handled the same way.


Roughly five minutes into the film I absolutely knew that the people who were once in charge, were not in charge of this one. I wasn’t surprised at all when I turned to IMDb after the movie and found that it was the product of a new director to the series. I’m not familiar with Don Michael Paul’s (Dead Above Ground, The Island, You) body of work, but I’d like to be.

The script was classic Tremors, though. With everything that changed, I’m glad the crew managed to keep the feel of the series alive.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s riddled with tropes and corny jokes, and roughly 98% of the storyline is completely predictable; but you don’t watch a movie like this because you think it’s going to be groundbreaking. You watch this kind of film because it campy, familiar, and entertaining. Also, after spending all day at work, or with your kids, or otherwise trying to pretend to be an adult, maybe you just want to turn off the logic center of your brain for a while.

That’s what movies like Tremors 5: Bloodlines is for, and this film succeeds tremendously at its job.

This film was my favorite of the Tremors series. I’m actually excited for the next one.

Cat’s Point of View:
The Tremors series is really a batch of B-movie creature features that you pretty much have to take with a grain of salt. The original was one of the first horror movies I was allowed to watch when I was younger, so it tends to have a special place in my heart.

I’ve always cringed a little at the name for the killer worms – graboids. I had a toy, when I was little, called popoids. That association could be part of my disconnection. It could also be that the phrase ‘you’ve got graboids’ sounds like the diagnosis of some horrible condition; something a step up from hemorrhoids.

The good news is that, generally, watching these movies doesn’t leave you feeling like you have that affliction. They’re decidedly not Oscar material – but we all know that going in, right?

I have to hand it to the creative team behind these movies. They have certainly tried to keep the story fresh with evolving their big bad critter through the course of the sequels. They’re all still a little bit of a rinse and repeat of the original formula – this movie was no different in that regard.

There has been a long stretch between this new seismic-sensing terror flick and the last offering in this series (which was actually a prequel). Fret not! There’s a framework that sets up a review for you so that you’ll feel like you haven’t missed a thing in spite of this being movie #5.


I remember my reaction the first time I saw Michael Gross (Rosemont, Becoming Santa, Holidays) playing survivalist Burt Gummer. It was a bit trippy to see the dad from Family Ties (1982-1989) as this big hunter ‘gun-nut’ type. Funny enough, he’s the only member of the original cast to have been in all five movies as well as the TV series.

There were some new cast members that brought something interesting to this movie. First, Jamie Kennedy (Ghost Whisperer, Good Deeds, The Sand) was a bit of a surprise here. His dynamic with Gross was enjoyable. 

Out of the rest of the supporting cast, two people stood out to me.  Pearl Thusi (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu, Quantico), who played Nandi; and Brandon Auret (Elysium, Alien Outpost, Chappie), who played Johan Dreyer. (I affectionately refer to him as ‘steampunk goggle guy.’)

I love that Thusi’s character seemed to be a community leader, as well as being smart and badass. As for ‘goggle-guy,’ I’m not sure how much of his role was supposed to be comedic – but I was giggling at the levity he brought to some of the scenes all the same.

This new installment was set and filmed in South Africa. It was a refreshing change from Perfection, it still felt a lot like the same old scenery – just this time with lions and elephants.

I’m fairly on the fence with this movie. I didn’t hate it, and it was pretty good in the context of this series. I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone that wasn’t already a big Tremors fan, however. For those that are giddy for graboids, I do have some good news. In late September of this year, Michael Gross announced on his Facebook page that the studio had green-lit production on a Tremors 6 and he’s already growing his Gummer mustache. Kennedy is said to reprise his role in the next movie, as well.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 37%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

P.S. There’s an extra scene just after the beginning of the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Sunday, December 11, 2016

This Week in Crowdfunding (12/11)

By: Selina



Through “This Week in Crowdfunding,” you’ll find five of the best projects Trust the Dice found hosted on crowdfunding sights this week. These are Films/Web Series’/Shows of varying lengths and genres that we believe in. If you like any of the projects you see here, donate to them, tell your friends, and/or post it on social media.

These projects don’t just need money, they need people to care and spread the word that they exist.

Support creativity. Support indie artists.

Remember that every actor, director, writer, and movie you have ever fallen in love with had to start somewhere.

Trust the Dice does not, and will not, accept payment from project creators for
appearance on this list. Projects are chosen solely on the merit of the idea,
proposal, and people involved.



5 – On the Nose

  
Crowdsource Platform: KICKSTARTER
Director: Gilbert Bannerman
Writer: Gilbert Bannerman, Theo Boswell, and Fergus Burnand
Other Staff: Nicholas Ferguson-Lee (Producer/Sound), Rory Mclean (Cinematography/Editor), Frank Lebon (Cinematography), Eliis Kuusk (Associate Producer/Assistant Director), Izabela Swiderska (Costume Design), Tjasha Stroud (Costume Design), Samuel Jones (Second Assistant Director), Lynda Boudjeltia (Art Director), Sabina Claici (Assistant Camera), Julia Hardecks (Sound), Grace Campbell (Script Supervisor)
Amount Requested: $3,143
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $658 raised by 27 backers.
Type of Goal: All or Nothing – This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by the deadline.

On the Nose is described on Kickstarter as “a twist on a cold war spy thriller” and the artwork accompanying the description of the story is very ‘film noir.’ From what I can see in the descriptions and the introduction video, this film will be a throwback to some of the greats from that general genre.

Not exactly a bad thing, if you ask me.

One of the most interesting things I noted about this film was the perspective the script was written from.

On the Nose is about a man trying to figure out why his wife left him. When he finds out she’s joined up with a theater group that performs on a train, he decides to go see what she’s been working on. When he gets there, he finds that the audience are also given costumes. The costume he’s given is just enough to make it impossible for his ex-wife to recognize him. That gives him the chance to find out what she’s been up to and maybe even why she left.

Seeing this story through the man’s eyes would be interesting. The amount of drama and mystery that could accompany his perspective is limitless. If this film is done right, it could do incredibly well at festivals.

There’s the rub with crowdfunding. You can’t really guarantee the success of a film you back… but there are some very important aspects of a campaign that could indicate a greater possibility that things will work out.

One of the most important things a campaign needs to succeed, is to understand exactly just how much Murphy’s Law can fuck with their production. The team working on this film understands that. This is not their first time working together and, from what they posted on their Kickstarter page, they’ve had to deal with a huge amount of Murphy’s Law in the past.

That’s a really good thing. It means that whatever is thrown at them that might cause failure, they’ll be able to meet head on.

Even if you’re not interested in the story or you don’t see the aspects of this campaign that could make it successful, you might want to look at the rewards. If you pledge enough money to the cause, Nicholas Ferguson-Lee, the producer, has promised to tattoo your name on his butt cheek.

So, at the very least, you can say you own someone’s ass.

If I had a reward of the week segment that would definitely be the winner.

Lowest Fund Reward: $1.27 – Huge Thank You – Warm our hearts over the Christmas season with a quid.
Highest Fund Reward: $2,538 – Tattoo On The Producer’s Bottom – Your name permanently tattooed on Nicholas Ferguson-Lee’s left cheek of his bottom.

4 – Drinking Games


Crowdsource Platform: INDIEGOGO
Director: Bradley Neale
Writer: Unknown
Other Staff: Becky Fumagall (Producer), Hannah Smith (Producer), Jack Jeffery (Director of Photography)
Amount Requested: $3,144
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $1,088 raised by 20 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible (This campaign will receive all funds raised even if it does not reach its goal)

Although no writer is listed on the Indiegogo site, I’d wager a guess that Bradley Neale was responsible for the script. During a portion of the film’s page, there’s a list of cast along with something they’ve said about the film, and you can definitely see the passion behind Neale’s words.

I guess it’s helpful that he actually starts his paragraph off with “I had the idea for Drinking Games…”

Moving on, the story that goes along with Drinking Games is something new that I’ve only started seeing happen in films in the past couple of years. It seems to be along the same lines as something like Nerve (2016). There are just enough differences in the description, however, to make Drinking Games stand on its own.

In many of these films, the victims don’t come face to face with their tormentor until the very end of the story. Such as in the original Saw (2004). In Drinking Games, the antagonist is already mentioned in the description. There’s no “who dun-it” involved.

What I truly love about the way the creators refer to the antagonist, is that they depict him as a psychopath with “a movie star smirk.” I’m a sucker for that evil-behind-beauty thing.

Movies that flip what you expect of the characters just tend to hit a mark that trope-y films don’t. Take, for instance, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010). The entire film was completely based around that tendency people have to judge people by what they look like, or by their caste. That film was awesome because it stuck so true to that.

I believe that Drinking Games has the potential to take their plot and turn it into something significantly worth watching.

For England locals, the Drinking Games team intends to hold some fundraising activities in person. There is no information for that just yet, but donating to the campaign would make it very easy to follow along with updates like that.

Also, I spoke with the director and he wanted to relay the message to everyone that they will begin shooting this thriller in February and that contributors will be invited to their exclusive premiere when the film is complete. Currently, Neale foresees that date as falling somewhere in May 2017.

Lowest Fund Reward: $12.57 – Virtual High-five! – Thanks! Any kind of donation we really appreciate it so have a high five from us! And a digital wrap photo of the cast and crew on set.
Highest Fund Reward: $314.36 – Part of the crew – Be a part of the crew! Have you ever fancied taking part in the film world? Here’s your chance to get that Associate Producer Credit you never knew you wanted. Alongside all the previous perks.

3 – Morning Glory



Crowdsource Platform: KICKSTARTER
Director: Robert Bertrand
Writer: Robert Bertrand
Other Staff: Tim Jolly (Cinematographer), Emmy Anshaw (Assistant Director), John Ryder (Sound Recordist), Jade-Marie Joseph (Cast), Bianca Beckles-Rose (Cast)
Amount Requested: $3,772
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $590 raised by 20 backers.
Type of Goal: All or Nothing (This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by the deadline)

Morning Glory is a film about two best friends that are heading down roads that will undoubtedly separate them.

By this point in my life, I’ve had many different best friends that I have parted ways with. Some of them I miss, others I regret missing with my car. I think by my age, everyone feels the same way. That makes the story of this film incredibly relatable.

Most of the time, in films, when two friends are shown parting ways it’s because of some great betrayal. Sure, sometimes that happens in real life. In fact, it happens much more than it should. However, that’s not what happens the majority of the time. Usually, when two best friends part ways, it’s simply because their lives pull them apart. For most people it’s because they went to different schools, moved out of state, got vastly different jobs with vastly different schedules, or had to dedicate their time to building new families.

In Morning Glory the reason the friends are separating is because their careers are taking them on two separate paths. It seems like a realistic, down-to-earth drama.

A lot of dramas take their plot to the extreme because people believe drama can only come from extremes. That’s not true. When you know something bad is going to happen, or you’re going to lose someone on a specific date, a kind of dread collects in your core and bubbles hotter and hotter until that moment comes.

In films, like the kind Morning Glory seems to be, the burn is slow but effective. When you combine that kind of tried and true set up with an experienced cast and crew, you can wind up with something magnificent.

As good as all that is, there’s another piece of the film’s Kickstarter page that’s understated, but stands out as a beacon of possible success.

The introduction video for Morning Glory starts off very typical. Robert Bertrand, writer/director, is seen in the video simply explaining things. He mentions that they’ve finished casting and started rehearsals. He also introduced the crew in general. Basic stuff, until you get to the middle.

According to the video, they ran out of funding and had to improvise.

The fact that the team ran out of money and still managed to finish the video in an engaging and humorous way is a, very subtle, big deal. It means they likely have plans for when things go wrong. That adds a certain layer of risk protection to investors. In the crowdfunding world, it’s important to not ignore things like that.

Lowest Fund Reward: $12.57 – HIGH FIVE – A ‘thank you’ credit at the end of the film.
Highest Fund Reward: $1,257.45 – A ‘thank you’ credit at the end of the film. One hour skype call with the director and Casper the Cat. Two tickets to the private screening of the film. Original film poster signed by the cast, crew, and Casper the Cat. Original film stills.  Digital Download of the film once the film festival run has finished.

2 – Killing Clarence


Crowdsource Platform: INDIEGOGO
Director: Nicholas Wyatt and Ameen Haddad
Writer: Nicholas Wyatt and Ameen Haddad
Other Staff: Teddy White (Producer/Hype Man)
Amount Requested: $5,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $485 raised by 9 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible (This campaign will receive all funds raised even if it does not reach its goal)

I’ll be honest, I really wanted to make this movie number one on my list. The ONLY reason it’s not, is because the film in the number one spot is socially important. However, I want to sincerely express that in all other ways, Killing Clarence is the best crowdfunded film I found this week.

I have to ignore the fact that they chose an absolutely remarkable hype man. Teddy White is probably the most likable person I’ve seen in any of the introduction videos I’ve ever seen on a crowdfunding site. He’s just adorable.

Oh, don’t think I didn’t catch that short reference to Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), I can quote Cary Elwes’ speech too!

Killing Clarence is a film about one hitman and one somewhat-hitman that arrive at a location to kill a man named Clarence, only to find there’s a party being held for the guy.

I’ve seen a lot of movies. This is the first time I’ve heard that particular plot. Of course, there are a ton of movies I haven’t seen, so I might just not know any other films that have that base storyline… but either way, the idea seems really interesting.

There’s the potential in that plot for action, humor, violence, redemption… and so much more.

According to the Indiegogo site, the two directors, Nicholas Wyatt and Ameen Haddad, met in film school. That’s relatively typical, what I find much more interesting is what Wyatt explained to me when I contacted him.

There’s a certain beauty in the fact that Wyatt is a combat Marine veteran and Haddad fled from the civil war in Syria.

Aside from the poetry involved in that connection, I love the idea that a Marine has had a hand in writing something like this. I have a high respect for anyone in any branch of the armed forces. Out of curiosity, I’ve done a lot of questioning about the training that Marines go through. I’ve always felt knowing the reality of that level of violence would make me a better writer. Wyatt has a much better understanding of that subject than I ever could. On the same subject, Haddad has experienced a civil war. Which means the realism level of any fighting or violence in the film will likely be through the roof.

When you take the script facts and mix it in with the level of passion the crew of this film exhibits, then add a sprinkle of the influences of Quentin Tarantino (which you see a lot of in the introduction video), you have a recipe for something that could truly explode.

For now, Killing Clarence will a short film. Of course, if it does well, it could become much more.

Lowest Fund Reward: $1 – Why not? – This is cool. I’m officially one of the funders of a movie!
Highest Fund Reward: $5,000 – The Godfather – Enough with the games. It’s time to make you an offer you can’t refuse. You’re the type that’s got the cash, got the prestige, and all the power. Welcome to “The Godfather” Package. You will earn the highly coveted Executive Producer Credit, which will be shown on all posters and movie artwork. You will also be invited to every event at each festival we attend with the film as a part of the Killing Clarence team. Plus a trip on set and all the cool perks that other packages offer.

1 – In Praise of Action


Crowdsource Platform: INDIEGOGO
Director: Aistė Jauraitė
Writer: N/A
Other Staff: David Grant (Stunt-man), Olivia Jackson (Stunt-woman), Jim Dowdall (Stunt-man)
Amount Requested: $1,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $40 raised by 3 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible (This campaign will receive all funds raised even if it does not reach its goal)

This film is extraordinarily important to the entertainment world.

As fans of films, we only get to see the finished product. We stare, transfixed, as burning cars flip over gaps or people. We gasp when our favorite character falls off a cliff. All the while, we commend the actors for their amazing performances… performances that might have been absolutely nothing without the physical aspect.

A lot of the time, the actor’s we’re congratulating weren’t part of that aspect at all.

In Praise of Action is a documentary that calls attention to the unsung heroes of entertainment: stunt-people.

Sure, there have been (very few) other documentaries, in the past, that have shined a light on people in the stunt-performing profession. I reviewed one of those documentaries, Double Dare (2005), VERY early on in my blogging career. My opinion of it would likely be much different now.

At this point, I’ve seen so many movies that I have started seeing ‘behind the veil’, so to speak. I see the effort put in by the people working behind the scenes, and it kills me that most of them will never get recognition.

When it comes to stunt-people, though, things are different. It may be a shame that some makeup, or costume, designers won’t be acknowledged… but it is a crime to not acknowledge stunt-people.

The men and women who work in the stunt profession literally put their lives on the line.

Of course there are safety measures in place, but accidents happen and stunt-people do die on set. On the set of The Expendables 2 (2012) a rogue explosion seriously injured one stunt-person and killed another, Kun Liu. If that had been a cast member, the media would have exploded… but it was a stunt-person.

Stunt-people NEED to be recognized. In Praise of Action is a film that is being used to try to and give people in the stunt profession the recognition they deserve, perhaps even their own award category at the Academy Awards.

When it comes down to it, without stunt-people the films we all know and love would be vastly different, if they existed at all.

In fact, I mentioned Marvel films to my husband earlier in order to make a point on this subject. His response was that it was a bad example because of the CGI used. Well, I’d like to point out that there are just over 700 people listed under “stunts” in the credits for Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).

That’s not a typo, there are three digits in that number. Most people couldn’t name a single one of them.

It’s that mindset that makes this movie necessary. 700 people worked on a film seen by millions, and no one will ever know their names because “there weren’t stunt-people, it was CGI.”

Put that into perspective. How many stunt-people must there be if that many of them worked on a single film? How many names have we, as fans, overlooked?

Think about it.

Lowest Fund Reward: $5 – Good Karma – We are very thankful for your support! – Items Included: Good karma!

Highest Fund Reward: $400 – Credit: Executive Producer – This way you will receive the best possibility to meet us, talk about the film, share the ideas, and will be credited as an Executive Producer. – Items Included: Credit: Executive Producer.