Crowdfunding Friday: guerrilla sci-fi filmmaking and more

Feature Ryan Lambie 11 Apr 2014 - 06:26

This week's Crowdfunding Friday includes a sci-fi film secretly shot in Beijing and starring dissident artist Al Weiwei...

At the time of writing, there are just six days to go before Julian Gollop's Kickstarter campaign for Chaos Reborn comes to a close. In case you missed it, we covered the game in more detail a few weeks ago; based on the 80s ZX Spectrum game Chaos, it's both a revival and comprehensive expansion on that tactical fantasy classic.

We've had a chance to play with the prototype multiplayer bit of Chaos Reborn, and while it's still being polished, it's every bit the engrossing battle of wits an necromancy we were hoping. Each bout is short, sharp and tense, with the screen quickly filling up with goo, fire and fantastical monsters as each wizard casts their spells - Chaos was and is an appropriate name for Julian Gollop's timeless tactical RPG.

There's still plenty of time to make a pledge and get involved, which you can do here. In the meantime, here's this week's selection of crowdfunding projects, which includes HUD - an ambitious science fiction film set in the depths of space - and The Sand Storm, a genre short that is surely the last word in guerrilla filmmaking.

The Sand Storm

The story behind this potentially remarkable short film sounds like a dystopian thriller in itself. A group of filmmakers flew to Beijing to make a science fiction movie with a dissident artist dubbed by one newspaper, "the most dangerous man in the world". The filmmakers shot The Sand Storm in absolute secrecy knowing that if the Chinese government got wind of what they were doing, they would almost certainly be arrested.

The result is The Sand Storm, starring Ai Weiwei, written and directed by Jason Wishnow and photographed by Christopher Doyle, a regular collaborator with the great Wong Kar-wai. Unsurprisingly, the results look both bleak and beautiful, with Weiwei playing a water smuggler in a grim, parched future.

Shooting on the film has long since been completed, obviously - we can only imagine what the Chinese authorities would have done had they stumbled on Wishnow's Kickstarter page while they were still shooting - so the funds raised will instead go to grading, editing and the costs of getting The Sand Storm into festivals.

It's a brave film, certainly, and it could pave the way for a feature film if it's successfully received. We're very much looking forward to seeing Wishnow's completed short.

HUD

There's no shortage of ambition in Jennifer Leigh and Dawson James's science fiction short, HUD. It's about an interstellar war seen through the eyes of one soldier, and from a design perspective, it looks fantastic: we love the svelte curves of the space craft which houses HUD's protagonist. Using Red Epic cameras and cutting-edge CGI, the short film sounds exciting from a technical standpoint (the use of Dolby Atmos could sound great in a theatre) but importantly, it has what sounds like an emotional story at its core, too.

There are only a few hours left to go in HUD's Kickstarter campaign, but it's well worth making a pledge if you're impressed by the pitch above - the more funds the filmmakers get, the more handsome the finished film can become.

Flying Hamster II: Knight Of The Golden Seed

If, like us, you have fond memories of the Wonder Boy and Monster World games from the 80s and 90s, you're sure to get a warm glow of nostalgia from the footage above. Like those games of yore, Flying Hamster II is a side-scrolling platform RPG, with lots of sword fighting and items to collect.

Created by Game Atelier in France, Flying Hamster looks like a fine combination of old and new: the gameplay looks cosily familiar, but the graphic design looks fresh and modern. The size and detail of the characters and bosses could only be dreamed about 20 or 30 years ago, and there are some great new technical ideas, too, such as the ability to rotate an entire level around a single point.

With just $12 netting a digital copy of the game at a discount, this is one game project worth considering, especially if you've a lingering affection for 2D platformers. Higher pledges will net you some other perks, like t-shirts and art books, but we're a tiny bit disappointed that you can't purchase one of those adorable penguins in Roman helmets depicted above.

Welcome To Tate's

What happens when an employee accidentally opens a portal into a comic book realm, allowing a group of supervillains to invade our reality? That's the subject of this great-looking web series, created by Larry White and Nathan Aaron. What they've come up with so far already looks superb, and it's surprising to note that they're only asking for $6000 to create six episodes, with a stretch goal of $10000 to create a full set of 10.

With some decent perks for backers, including DVDs and commissioned art by Nathan Aaron, Welcome To Tate's is well worth your consideration.

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