Firmament Films 2014 in Reflection
What a great year 2014 was for Firmament Films! Short films! Awards! Our continuing growth as a group of filmmakers and true professionals. But to start: a deep and heartfelt thank you to all of you – all of you loyal viewers and followers! You’re part of the Firmament Family, whether you’ve helped us out directly on one of our many projects or supported us by sharing and enjoying our films. We very much appreciate everything you’ve given us in the past and we look forward to continuing this journey into storytelling in 2015 and beyond!
For Firmament, this was a great year. If you haven’t been keeping track, our merry band of misfits has released a short film a month since March AND made huge progress on our first feature film, The Princess Knight. More on that later. Let’s take a look back at 2014!
We took much of this month to work on The Princess Knight, working on some interior scenes in the Baron’s castle. What some imagined would take a mere weekend to complete ended up challenging us and helped us appreciate just how hard working with puppets truly is. Although discovering the reality of tackling the world of puppets has garnered us some of our greatest successes. We learned so much these 2 months, and that has helped us during the rest of our filming. We raised the walls, literally, to give the puppets more room.
In March, Firmament along with GhostHat Media delved into the world of the web series with our dear friend, the Troll. Troll got his hands on a camera and a producer, Stanley, and started his own video blog. What started as the pretty darn simplistic idea of answering emails has become a full-fledged series of adventures. The Troll gave glimpses behind the scenes of the Princess Knight’s filming, but even more, he’s developed a whole world for our puppet friends to play in. And best of all, the 11th episode of the Troll Blog, Quantum Troll, received a Wave Award for its achievement as a web series! He’s come a long way, our award winning Troll, and had many adventures. Here’s his first episode, but you can find all of his episodes on his YouTube channel! We are so proud of our Troll! Watch the Troll Blog
We released one film in April, Kris’ Schulz’s The Roxy Incident, a noir detective story that pays homage to the classic Hollywood gumshoes. Roxy was filmed over one weekend in 2013 and finally released. It was a chance for many in Firmament to take on new, more challenging roles. It was a great learning opportunity for everyone involved AND we were able to work with some new faces we would continue to work with! The Roxy Incident is also the 3rd film in the Stylized Art Film wing of Firmament (which includes To His Coy Mistress and On Thursdays I Do Laundry).
The 48 Hour Film Festival. Firmament’s tentpole short each year. We have loved participating in this International festival each year, so much so that we actually completed 3 48 Hour Film Projects this year. In April, we joined the festival in Madison, but weren’t able to release it publicly until May. We pulled our most challenging genre yet – Western/Musical and we hit it out of the park (literally) by completing our baseball musical, Game Day. We were also thrilled to be the big winners and snag our third Best Picture and Audience Choice wins for Madison (along with other awards). It was another great year for 48 hour films in Madison, and as mentioned, our most challenging 48 to date. We were humbled and proud.
In June, the crew headed East to try our hands at the Milwaukee 48 Hour Film Fest for the first time. With a crew of several first-timers, we pulled Horror, which has been a favorite for the Milwaukee judges in the past, and we took on the additional self appointed challenge of creating a film with a female only cast that could past the The Bechdel test, which requires that the movie has at least two women characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. We are proud to report that we passed that test with flying colors. The Unpossessors is a proud addition to the Firmament library.
For the Milwaukee 48, our team actually split off into two groups (another self-appointed challenge), with a few of the Firmament regulars forming the MKE Productions team and creating Saint Louis Sucks. which placed in the top five for the Milwaukee 48 and offered the group the opportunity to film a national commercial spot for the festival sponsor, New Amsterdam vodka. Beautifully shot in one night in Milwaukee, Take the Night was a fun filming experience that put us on the rooftops one of Milwaukee’s coolest hotels.
The Ice Bucket Challenge hit the viral webs hard this summer, and Firmament (specifically T.C. De Witt and Chris Moehr) was challenged by the lovable Chad Halvorsen- and we accepted that challenge in a spectacular one shot! The team took the viral opportunity to not just dump cold water on our heads, but to educate viewers about what exactly ALS is. And if that nobel cause wasn’t enough, the short also allowed producer Chris Moehr’s son Erik his first crack at cinematography. The Challenge was a spectacular way to raise awareness as well as a great way to raise a ton of much needed funding for research!
Our April film, The Roxy Incident, was accepted into the Milwaukee Short Film Festival, which was in August. Taking the opportunity of having a few Firmament members together, T.C., Chad and Kris (with some help from Cate) filmed a fun short that was all written and filmed in one early afternoon in Chad’s Milwaukee home. It was all conceptualized while driving around town after the festival and edited by TC! We just can’t get away from that itch to create and complete things in a time restriction. The 48s have molded us well.
Our third film for the 48 Hour Festival, though this one was for the Four Points Film Contest, an international branch of the annual festival. The Four Points follows the same rules as the City 48, but teams compete in time-zones and are given an additional day, as everything must be submitted digitally. With films submitted from all over the world, our film made it into the top 12, and we are extremely proud of Hi, Neighbor. We were recognized by co-winning Best Doppelganger film AND Chad Halvorson received Runner-Up for Best Acting. That’s right, folks, Chad Halvorsen is now an internationally recognized actor! We are so very, very proud of our Chad. Take a look at his (as well as the rest of the cast’s) amazing performance! Watch Hi, Neighbor
Out in California, T.C. De Witt once again put a small team together to film Thin Pipes, a throwback to classic television like I Love Lucy, with a modern twist on the content. Thin Pipes was filmed in just one day with a crew of only 8. Quite a feat seeing as it was an 18 page script! It offered a series of very unique challenges, but the end result is a fun little piece with more than a few goofy moments worthy of a laugh.
We started this update talking about the Troll, and heck, we’re going to talk more about the Troll now, as he made a Holiday entry into his Troll Blog with his own special! It was a great year for our beloved Troll, and this is a great capper for him. Joining the Troll is the very talented Jeff Bell, who has had a hand, literally, in the Troll Blog from the beginning. Sweet, cute, and musical, the Christmas Special takes the Troll and his blog to a new level. It is amazing to see how far Jeff and the Troll have taken the show. We can’t wait to see what the new studio and year brings for the blaveiest of blaves.
2015 – A Look Ahead
2014 was our most productive year yet, and we are so very thrilled to keep moving forward into 2015. Always forward! That is what we like to say here at Firmament. We have so much planned. The Princess Knight is continuing production with eyes on a Spring completion. We have welcomed new friends to the fold. Our dear Backflip and Ghost Hat collaborators continue to join us in our adventures in storytelling (and you should definitely take a moment to see what they have been up to! (www.backflipfilms.com and www.ghosthat.net) Game Day is playing at the International Filmapalooza in February at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. I’ll Raise Ya, Thin Pipes, Hi, Neighbor, the Unpossessors, Game Day, and selected episodes of The Troll Blog have all been accepted into multiple film festivals. There is much, much more to come, and we would love you to join us. Thank you, dear reader and friend for a fantastic, fabulous, and wonderful year.