Arts / Crowdfunding

Lefferts Gardens filmmaker: stream 1st film free, build funding buzz for 2nd

Stewart Thorndike is making a female-centered movie about a haunted TED talk. She spoke with Technical.ly Brooklyn about her unique fundraising strategy — and how technology makes horror movies harder to pull off.

A movie poster for "Lyle." (Image courtesy of Stewart Thorndike)

All TED talks tell you to do things, but imagine if they really told you to do things. Really specific things.

That’s the premise of a new horror movie by a local filmmaker, who’s using her past work to promote her current funding effort.

Lefferts Gardens’ Stewart Thorndike is a member of Film Fatales, a network of women who have written or directed at least one feature-length film. She’s also determined to complete a trilogy of female-oriented horror films, movies in which she takes the comfortable and the familiar and makes it menacing and creepy.

Thorndike has begun work on her second film, but she’s using her first to help make it happen.

The first film, Lyle, played at festivals this year. Now, she’s making that film available for free online over the course of a Kickstarter campaign for the second film in her trilogy, Putney.

As of this writing, Thorndike has raised almost $11,500 of a $35,000 goal.

Support by Sept. 18

Thorndike said her team is leaning hard on the Internet’s resources to make this trilogy happen. She wrote, “There is no way we could have had this radical distribution experiment to get our films made without technology.”

She is also considering making her films more transmedia, where characters have lives outside of what you see on the screen.

Lyle is about a lesbian couple, their just barely walking and talking daughter, Lyle, and a beautiful brownstone in Park Slope that’s becomes a source of menace for the film’s central character, Leah. Leah is played by an actor you may recognize, Gaby Hoffmann (Girls, Obvious Child).

Watch the movie

Not only is this an intriguing strategy to drum up support for a crowdfunding campaign, but Putney‘s plot hinges on a prominent component of Internet culture: the TED talk.

In the movie, the main character is fixated on a TED talk. She watches it again and again, but the talk starts to change with each viewing. It starts telling her to do things.

Thorndike told us, “A few of my friends and I guess 17 million other people got a little obsessed with Brené Brown’s TED Talk about vulnerability so I’m sure that played into it.”

Thorndike made an intriguing observation about how, in a way, technology is making it harder to do horror films. One of the critical elements of horror is for the characters to become isolated. Thorndike writes:

It’s really hard to isolate anyone in an abandoned and haunted hotel for instance — you have to do a lot of dialoguing — “I can’t call for help because my cell died and I forgot my charger. Me too. And me too.” You can do the “we don’t have reception thing” but that is usually just as wordy and pretty much demands some unusually far away place that I don’t believe in anymore. You see some filmmakers trying to resist technology — like insisting on using pay phones — and it always ruins the reality of the story for me and kind of makes me angry. People need to have iPads and laptops and chargers or it doesn’t feel relevant.

Companies: Kickstarter
Series: Brooklyn

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