I’m sure many of you have heard about a website called “Kickstarter”. If you aren’t aware of it, it is a way to fund and follow creativity.

Recently I was drawn to a kickstarter campaign for a feature film called Ascended Masters. I had the priviledge of conversing with Shawna Baca, the writer/director and she was gracious enough to answer some questions for me.

How much of the work for the film has already been completed?
The first feature screenplay is complete, II and III are outlined. I have concept art, test visual effects, did some animatics on the short and put together a Vision Book for the trilogy. I am now gearing up to do costume designs.

Your world is extremely well thought out and quite different from the one we currently live in. Are you worried that the story might be lost between massive amounts of exposition?
I have been developing the story for three years now. It is actually set in pre-apocalyptic times and the apocalyptic war that is strategically aligning itself to take place. I’m not worried about expositional dialogue. My screenplay is not just filled with “Watch out…” “Run!” “Move…” I am a storyteller and a filmmaker and it’s my first and foremost job to tell a compelling story that has action scenes that make sense and visual effects that compliment the storytelling of my characters journey.

Your video on kickstarter explains a lot about what the story will include, but is there anything that you realized you had forgotten until after you uploaded it? (happens to me all the time)
There is so much that is not in the Kickstarter video. That would be an hour video explaining who all the Ascended Masters are, who are comprised of the Dark Brotherhood, what the war is really about, the story arc, and all the plot points. It’s so much more than just destroying mankind and Earth. What people see in the video is just an tagline and glimpse of the story. I will say this, it’s centered around one Ascended Master, who has to be born back into human form to fulfill a mission that will end the war.

$20,000 isn’t much of a budget. How did you choose that number as a goal?
$20,000 is not a lot of money when you are trying to add visual effects and stunts into the equation. Any money raised on Kickstarter is going to production insurance costs, costumes, special effects make up, wire and rigging equipment, visual effects and post costs. If you add those numbers up, we still have to depend on some favors, friends and family rates, and in-kind sponsorships. The idea of making a small piece/short film of the feature trilogy is to showcase the world I am trying to create. Also, being a female writer/director in the sci-fi world is an uphill battle. I thought it was important to get a jumpstart.

Is this your first kickstarter venture? How did you come upon that site?
Yes, this is my first venture. A few friends of mine had projects on the site. I thought I should give it a try, move with the current trend and also really to get the word out about what I’m trying to do. I’ve listened to some audio lectures that Thomas Mai, conducted on crowd-funding platforms and social media. He talked about how social media is a good tool to see if there is an audience your film. People on the internet are not afraid of expressing their opinions and they will tell you if your concept sucks or not. Fortunately, I have received a lot of messages from people all over the world, who have expressed a liking towards my Ascended Masters project. That’s a good sign! Now, I guess I put it out in the universe and I will have to see what she brings back!

What drove you to put your project up on kickstarter?
I have never raised money through a crowd-funding platform before. It’s a whole new thing for me. Although, social networking and crowd-funding are now coming to the forefront because of where we are at with technology. Today, I can reach out to people I don’t know across the world, that I would have never been able to reach to before. That’s exciting. I think Kickstarter is a having a great impact on fulfilling artists dreams for those projects that are successful. I think it gives more independent filmmakers power to create. It’s harder to rely on production companies and studios to read your projects and greenlight them. This way, you are getting out there.

I finished my barrage of questions by asking her to tell me in 140 characters or less what Ascended Masters is about.
“Ascended Masters is about a group of celestial beings who descend down to Earth to stop the Dark Brotherhood (an allegiance of Underworld Gods and demons) from killing off mankind and destroying Earth.”

Technically, she went over by 60 characters, but she’s a writer so I’m amazed she reigned it in that much. 🙂

Please visit the Ascended Masters kickstarter page for more information on the feature. The pledges need to reach $20,000 by April 22, or all of the current pledges will be refunded.

To find the Kickstarter Page for Ascended Masters and/or to make a pledge, please click here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shawnabaca/ascended-masters
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