Crowdfunding Friday: anime, coding and Italian Star Wars

Feature Ryan Lambie
21 Feb 2014 - 05:51

Our look at geeky crowdfunding projects returns, with a selection of indie films, coding books and other stuff worth your consideration...

Crowdfunding Friday's been off air for a good couple of months now, during which time we've been drinking Tizer and playing a 1990 Game Boy in a cub tent in our front room. But now we're back, having grown weary of Tizer, run out of AA batteries and broken the cub tent by standing up too quickly in the middle of the night.

Cub tent madness aside, we're happy to share with you some of the delectable crowdfunding goodness we've found during our trawls through the internet this week, as well as a great Star Wars-related one we received via the gift of email. If you have a geek-friendly campaign you'd like to tell us about, do feel free to get in touch with us at the usual address.

Until then, we'll leave you with this week's selection, which begins with a fabulous, seriously underrated animated film from Japan. Now if you'll excuse us, we have a cub tent to repair.

Mai Mai Miracle

Although anime is a far bigger deal in the UK than it was 25 years ago, it's still tricky to get more niche Japanese animated movies and TV shows released on our rain-swept shores. Mai Mai Miracle, a 2009 anime feature from director Sunao Katabuchi, is one such item - a delightful little film that was long deemed too niche to be commercially viable for release in Britain.

Thanks to Glasgow-based team All the Anime, Mai Mai Miracle will finally get the a release here, with English subtitles and, thanks to the amount of money already raised over on Kickstarter, an English-language dub, too.

If you've never seen or heard anything of Mai Mai Miracle before, simply hit play on the video above - All the Anime rightly came to the conclusion that the animation should speak for itself, and it really does: about a pair of children growing up in rural Japan, it positively shimmers with colour and warmth. Katabuchi was once an animator at Studio Ghibli - he was assistant director on Kiki's Delivery service - and the influence of Hayao Miyazaki is everywhere to be seen in its design and fluidity of movement.

Admittedly, you'll have to pledge a fair bit to get the physical version of the film ($55, or about £33), but bear in mind that the collector's edition comes with a collection of art cards, a handsome slip case, and a digital art book. For anime fans, it's a relatively small price to pay for an underappreciated animated gem, and we're hoping that the success of the project could pave the way for more, less well known anime to come to the UK.

Lone Cosmonaut

If we were at film school, we'd probably waste our time making something silly like a recreation of RoboCop with tinfoil, parsnips and papier mache. A group of students at Newport Film School, however, have something a bit more mature in mind. They plan to make a science fiction drama about the Cold War space race of the 1960s, and Soviet attempts to put the first man on the Moon - irrespective of the danger to the cosmonaut involved.

The story - about a test pilot-turned cosmonaut named Ivan Orlov - is partly based in truth, since the Soviet government frequently attempted to cover up or minimise accidents or fatalities during their space missions. It's an ambitious project, and will use British locations like the Brecon Beacons and an old bunker in Cheshire to stand in for the various test facilities in Cold War Russia.

The project only needs £2,500 to get going, and with Lone Cosmonaut covering a part of history seldom explored in cinema,  it could be well worth backing. And if you want to get a taste of how authentic the finished film could look, take a look at the movie's Tumblr page. Those production photos have a real analogue, chilly look to them.

Craft Computer Club

You don't get to our age without having a few regrets in life. Not becoming an astronaut, breaking our cub tent, eating an entire packet of out-of-date biscuits for lunch are three of the more recent ones, but mostly, we regret not learning to code properly when we were still kids - back when our brains readily stored information, before all the Tizer and out-of-date biscuits took their toll.

Coder Dan Bridge's Kickstarter project, Craft Computer Club, is the kind of thing we wish we could have had around the house when we were kids. It aims to teach children how computers work and the rudiments of coding, all through colouring and paper craft. It's a brilliant idea, and the way Dan describes it in his pitch video above, it's a friendly introduction to a potentially baffling language.

With computers and apps a vital part of our everyday lives, Craft Computer Club could provide the ideal jumping-off point for the coders of tomorrow.

Dark Resurrection Volume 2

Now, this final one looks great fun. It's a fan-made Star Wars film hailing from Italy, and the effects and production values look magnificent. Director Angelo Licata of Riviera Films is looking for $150,000, but that's a small sum considering all the lightsabre and space battles you can see in the pitch reel above. With the seventh official Star Wars movie still more than a year away, Dark Resurrection may be just the thing to tide us over until the main event hits cinemas in 2015.

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