Local filmmakers seek funding for new project

DOWNEY – A group of local filmmakers has launched a funding campaign so they can complete their latest project, a film titled "Sea Monsters." Produced by the production company Sweet Nightmares, "Sea Monsters" is primarily a love story, the tale of an old, dying sea captain on one final journey to reunite with his one true love.

The Captain teams up with an eager young sailor named Abe and together they journey into the heart of the mysterious Bermuda Triangle, following the spotty direction of a treasure map. Along the way, the pair face obstacles and begin to question each other's sanity.

Abe is in it for the promise of pirate treasure, while The Captain has been withholding his true intentions the entire time.

Sweet Nightmares is the studio behind "Loveland," "Windmill" and other short films that have screened here in Downey. Much of the production staff from Sweet Nightmares hails from Downey and the surrounding area.

To make "Sea Monsters" a reality, the company is trying to raise $15,000 by April 17. It has already collected more than $3,600 though a Indiegogo campaign.

"Sea Monsters is an incredibly ambitious short film project by any standard," the filmmakers said. "In order to make the voyage feel epic and authentic, we plan to utilize all of our collective resources to make the film as large in scope as possible. The majority of principal photography will take place at sea. On a real boat. And some of it in a treasure cave. Oh...and some more of it will also be shot underwater. At a real shipwreck.

"Our cast, crew and locations are secure and ready to go," they added. "We've worked tirelessly scouting the locations, researching the props and doing all of the necessary legwork to bring the film to life. We only lack the funding to move forward and begin principal photography."

Sweet Nightmares will host an art show and fundraiser this weekend at Amaloa Boutique and Gallery in Hermosa Beach, with proceeds going towards the film.

To learn more about "Sea Monsters," or to contribute towards the film, go to indiegogo.com/projects/sea-monsters/x/9351139


Below is a Q&A with Sweet Nightmares:

What are the benefits to investing?

Investing in Sea Monsters means a couple things: 1.) You're establishing a bond with a young, extremely talented team of filmmakers. I cannot stress enough what an amazing collective of people Sweet Nightmares is, and we can produce any sort of film from scratch given the proper budget. We have an entire team of illustrators, sculptors, sound designers, writers and cinematographers at the ready who would be willing to repay any sort of monetary favor with our services.

2.) You're getting behind a short film that will inevitably go pretty far. There's a reason that most short films don't demand a budget of 15k +. Why put that money into a short? The answer is simple: To make the greatest short film possible. To roll out a product so spectacular and so epic that it's jaw dropping standing next to the competition at festivals. As someone who has recently had his work in a couple festivals around the country, I've seen now what I have to do in order to take home the top honors. This is a bold entry for us. Attached you'll find a semi-lined budget which is some indication of where the funds are going. We need to afford a top-of-the-line camera. Underwater housing. Several locations which we've already mapped out. And of course heavy production design and authentic costuming.

3.) Time and time again, an amazing short from a first time director leads to a feature that gains serious notoriety. Look at recent examples such as MAMA, THE BABADOOK and WHIPLASH (which recently went to the Oscars)! It is our hope that Sea Monsters will not only have an impressive festival run, but will also be proof of concept and allow us to go on to make a feature film.

4.) While this may be a less compelling reason than the prior three...this is my dream project. I've paid my dues and worked in the industry for the past four years on a myriad of shorts, features, commercial work and music videos. There is nothing that I've been more passionate about than this project. Ever. I know the same goes for our director of photography and my other close collaborators. We've been planning out how to do this film for the past two years and beyond monetary profit, beyond acclaim, I legitimately want to tell this story because I believe it's a story worth telling and it could result in a beautiful piece of cinema which I will be proud of. If nothing else, a vote of confidence in this project is a vote of confidence in a story that I have a burning desire to tell...which surely counts for something.

Will I be getting a return on my money?

Potentially, yes. But there are no guarantees. It is the hope that once Sea Monsters has finished its festival run, we will sell the short film to distributors. I've looked into this process already and I know that money can be made on selling it to iTunes (where it is distributed on foreign markets) and to YouTube channels. This would allow a steady stream of revenue to come back out of the short for years to come. If we ended up doing a feature, than of course any profits from the feature would start by going straight back to our investors.

What are the sales and marketing strategy?

Our marketing strategy for the film is going to be simple and elegant. Every choice that we're making when it comes to the aesthetic design of the film is going to be naturalistic. While we're making a film that is an enormous spectacle, we want the film to ultimately speak for itself. In this way, we've chosen to withhold many of the biggest surprises in the film from the audience. In some cases, less is more, and we believe with certain, resonant, iconic imagery we can spark more interest in the viewer than if we were to show them everything at once. We want to tease at great things, and then deliver great things. We already have poster art, T-Shirts and banner concepts lined up once we finish shooting the film. Additionally, we also already know how we plan to structure and distribute the full length trailer. Our friends over at Slashfilm, Badass Digest, Dread Central, The Daily Dot and Io9 will be more than happy to help us market the film once it's completed.

Are there any perks your offering to investing?

Yes. We're offering all sorts of prizing and incentives for investing in the film. At the lower levels, we're offering silver dollars and unused currency straight from the US Mint. It's the closest thing we can come to offering "treasure" coins to our donors. At higher levels, we're offering actual props from the film, a wooden engraved treasure chest, brass bookends depicting one of the main characters and fabric swatches used in the creation of the costumes. Additionally, we're also offering walk-on roles in the film to investors, copies of the film, special screenings which we could organize in their cities and exclusive, beautifully handmade piece of concept art. We will do literally everything we can to please our investors and give back to them for their generous donations.

Do I gain official credit and as what?

Yes. At every level of funding higher than $75 there is official credit in the film for a donation. At the higher levels of donation, we are offering producer credit on the film. That is not a lie or a title that we toss around lightly. You are literally helping us produce the film by giving us your time and your generous donation. This means that you have a stake of ownership in the film (which is literally determined by the percentage of the total budget which is contributed) and that you are owed back that percentage from any potential profits the film might make. So we are offering Associate Producer credits, Producer credits, and Executive Producer Credits. If you want a more hands-on involvement in the film, we are also offering the chance to be involved in an on-set capacity. If you have experience working in a crew position, we could have you aboard during the actual filming process.