By Mary Owen
Passionate about filmmaking, two Stayton brothers are planning to spend the next year and a half creating a short film they hope will someday become a feature movie.
“For years, my brother Tim and I have dreamed of doing a full-length animated movie, and this short film is one step closer to us getting there,” Phillip Wade said of Winter Village, a tale based on Inuit/Alaskan folklore. “We’re putting in everything we’ve got to make this dream a reality.”
As long as he can remember, filmmaking has been a part of everyday life for Phillip. In his pre-teen years, he created a video that aired on Animal Planet, and one of his early films with Tim was a semi-finalist at a San Antonio film festival. Currently the production manager for Channel K23, and a published writer, Phillip, now 21, has a keen interest in the study of natural mysteries.
“To be honest, what we’re attempting is certainly challenging,” Tim, 18, said of their project, started in January and due to be completed in December 2014. “However, the higher the stakes go, the greater the accomplishment will be!”
Tim’s fascination with animation and visual effects began in childhood and over the years has evolved into a profession. Beginning with simple 3D programs, he soon mastered Blender and released a popular Jurassic Park model specially created for use with the software. After gaining experience through the creation of numerous short film dramas, and becoming skilled in advanced 3D programs, he is co-directing Winter Village with Phillip.
“We’ve been inspired by the amazing animated films that DreamWorks has produced, like Rise of the Guardians and How to Train Your Dragon,” Phillip said.
The every-increasing reach of technology has put tools such as advanced 3D animation software in the hands of filmmakers that just a few years ago only big-budget productions could possibly afford, according to the brothers.
“This enables us to produce a story that would otherwise be impossible to make,” Phillip said. “And we’ve been blessed with some of the amazingly talented people from these films guiding us through the production of our own movie.”
Lead consultant and writer Rick Lord hails from Salem. Lord has more than a thousand TV commercials and numerous short and independent feature films under his belt. Author of two books on filmmaking, he is a producer and director of photography as well as an independent filmmaker.
Concept artist Daren Horley won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Visual Effects in the TV series Walking with Dinosaurs. The Londoner has worked on numerous hit movies, including Iron Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Others working on Winter Village include: animation consultant Stephanie Seibert, animation supervisor Richenda Wheeler, concept artist Pete Von Sholly, composer Cory Knowland, actor Tracy Gaillard, co-writer Joe Aaron, and storyboard artist Dan Schaefer. All have worked on major Hollywood films.
As much as a great crew is at the core of completing this ambitious project, telling a great story is at the heart, Phillip said.
“A film could have amazing actors or cinematography, but in the end, it’s the story that really counts,” he said. “Our film story is loosely based off an ancient Alaskan legend known as Adlivun. This has been instrumental in character development and finalizing the look and feel.”
The story centers on Charles Wilson, an Alaskan bush pilot, who returns from one of his many trips to remote villages in the desolate wilderness. Wilson crash lands his plane in a place he never dreamed existed. He meets Guillianna, the beautiful mistress of folklore, and must decide whether this place will be his final destination.
After seeing the movie, Phillip and Tim want viewers to say, “Man, that was a wonderfully done story, I never imagined that would happen in the end!”
The brothers believe this is their chance to show Hollywood that a small team of independent filmmakers can produce an animated film of stunning quality on a limited budget.
Although their team members are located in Los Angeles, London and Portland, their studio, Ambition Pictures, is based in Stayton, lowering productions costs considerably. Every aspect of the production has been carefully budgeted and will be executed in the most cost-effective way possible, without degrading quality, Phillip said.
“I’ve put everything I’ve got to bring this project to the point where it is now, but this is just the beginning,” Phillip said. “We’ve projected the estimated cost to be roughly $25,000, and we’re raising a minimum of $15,000 on a crowd-funding website called Kickstarter. Launching June 1, we’re got exactly 28 days to raise the money or we’ll get none of it.”
On the Kickstarter website is a pie chart explaining the various costs associated with making the movie as well as other information, Phillip said.
“We’re offering awesome rewards to our backers like original concept art, autographed by famed storyboard artist Pete Von Sholly,” he said. “He’s known for his work on Shawshank Redemption and over a hundred other films. We need your help to make this movie a reality!”
After its completion, the brothers would love to see the film featured at major film festivals, such as Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival.
“This is where we hope to catch the attention of producers interested in developing Winter Village into a feature-length movie,” Phillip said. “Full-length animated films are expensive, usually costing upwards of $100 million. As you can see, there is a lot at stake with this short film, which is basically the ‘proof of concept.’ ”
Only a few short films are made into full-length movies each year, Phillip said. “And we’ll do everything we can to make our film one of those success stories.”
For more information on or to donate to the project, visit www.KickstartTheMovie.com.