About Crow Hill
After the great success of Rubidium’s Wu YouTube Mini Series, Silent City both on Kickstarter and YouTube, Rubidium Wu approaches the Kickstarter community once again and relies on their support for his new feature length espionage thriller movie. This new movie is called Crow Hill, and it is a Bourne Identity/Taken hybrid that delves into Cyber Terrorism and the secret war being waged right now. The movie stars Clem McIntosh who is known for his role on Boardwalk Empire.
Why is Crow Hill Different from Other Movies Out there and Why Should You Support It?
We live in the age of reboots and sequels where movie makers try to make money by capitalizing on the fame and popularity of existing movies, old movies or comics. Crow Hill aims to go back to the roots of the thriller genre with an original movie that proves that less can really be more. The action of Crow Hill takes place in a world that we live in now, and is based on factual events. The movie appeals to anyone that is angry for their government invading their privacy, anyone that is overwhelmed and shocked at how technology is being used against them and these are the same people that the movie needs for support so this project can become a reality.
The Story of Crow Hill
Rubidium’s Wu first Kickstarter was a fictional story about a post-apocalyptic world where the protagonist had to do what he could just to survive. In Crow Hill, Rubidium decided to tackle a more realistic story which is based entirely on real events. The feature length movie is set in one of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights and it is shot over the course of a single week. The action tracks two FBI agents who have to locate a missing hard drive that contains a lethal computer virus that was being passed among the members of a radical group planning on using it to attack a US nuclear facility. As the events of the movie unfold, the agents start asking serious questions about the actual creator of a virus capable of bringing down a country.
In 2010, a computer virus emerged that was years ahead of anything that anyone had ever seen. Its sophistication was unmatched and its goal was clear; decimating the centrifuges of nuclear facilities in any country. A clear act of war for anyone using it, but it was a war that was never sanctioned..
Rubidium Wu adds a twist to the story as he shows the dangers of Cyber Warfare and what can happen when a computer virus built for war falls into the wrong hands.
Crow Hill has a goal of $22,000; this is the amount that is needed to tell this story to everyone that should be made aware. The actors and crew have volunteered their time because of their strong feelings for the subject matter and their belief in the moral of the story.
What do I think it takes to make a project successful on Kickstarter?
It needs an individual voice, it needs passionate, real people behind it that are prepared to work hard while raising the money, as hard as they will work to make the film. It really helps to plug-in into existing communities so for Silent City, we spoke to and connected with people who were explorers and fascinated by the amount of abandoned buildings around New York City.
Do you think that for a movie to be successful it has to be made on a grand scale with lots of high tech and complicated equipment?
No, of course not, a lot of my films have been very small scaled independent affairs. I directed TV commercials for a few years and I did them while having all the toys of shooting on film. I got to use cranes and jibs and also a lot of fancy gizmos to move the camera and to catch images that you normally wouldn’t as well as visual effects and shooting with green screens, plus working with teams of people to create images that I have never seen before that I wanted to bring to the world. It was very exciting.
However, even with the best gear in the world, I believe that the most spectacular thing for the audience is a real human moment; a beautiful and tender real human emotion captured on a camera and that’s free. That is something that a great actor can produce in conjunction with a great script and a great director and that’s really why we all see films. No one sees movies for the spectacle of it, although it is amazing to be transported to a different world and you see in a lot of the films that I profile in “Box Office Apocalypse” they are just show, oftentimes there is no substance behind them, there are no great performances backing the story and there are no great characters involved. Films which pander only to the temporary stimulation of visual effects typically fall very flat; are difficult to get through because there is no deeper connection. A beautiful small film relies only on the performance of the actors and can be a real treasure.
So no, I do not think that you need all that stuff to tell a story. They can be fantastic tools to create the world you want to create, bring to life the characters you want to bring to life but, there is always a way to do that with the resources you have if you are smart and use them to the best of your ability.
Have you ever considered acting in a film?
You know, until I started doing Box Office Apocalypse, I have never been comfortable in front of a camera. It is an issue of control as directors, writers/directors like to breathe life into something that is sprung from their imagination and that’s what we love to do most; control the lives of the characters and make a world from scratch. Acting, I think, involves a lot of letting go and going forward without knowing what the result will be and that is something that I have never been comfortable with or that I am good at and it is certainly not something that I want to try. I am fascinated by the amount of actors that want to try directing. I don’t think it works the other way as there are not many directors that want to try acting. What usually happens when actors direct is that they do one movie and realize how hard a job it is and how stressful it is to have all of these people always asking you questions and having to take responsibility for what goes into a film and they usually get it out of their system and get back to doing six movies a year. I do not ever want to act, I have far too much respect for actors to think that I can do it naturally and jump in and have a go. I am very happy to stay behind the camera.
How did you get into filmmaking?
My father was a teacher and he went from teaching kids in school to making instructional videos for industrial plants and I think the main video that he did was for a printing press company. He would make these instructional videos on how to operate the heavy equipment. I remember that he had a big VHS camera where you put the whole VHS tape into the camera itself, so the camera was huge. He would bring it home on weekends and my brother and I would make films, mainly reenacting scenes from Star Wars with vacuum cleaner tubes as light sabers. I was stung by the film bug really early and I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. I also had a fascination with computers, a passion for painting and for the visual arts. In film, all of those influences came together and I was able to do something that I loved and tell stories that connected to the wider world and I have been at it ever since.
When watching a movie, what aspect do you care about the most?
When a film is very well directed, it puts you inside the head of a character and you get to be somebody else when you are watching a great film. I think that this is as close to magic as you can get. I think that great stories really transport you to another world and put you in the mind of another person to be somebody else and to have their experience. You get to live their triumph and their losses. If you ask people about some of the peak experiences of their lives, the times of their life when they were most excited, most scared or most joyous, speaking for myself and a lot of people I know, that happened when watching a movie in cinemas. And that is why I think films are a great part of our culture and our lives and that is why I want to make films; to create characters like that and give people experiences like that. I think it is something very intimate and you know, contemporary films are wonderful but, I am often reminded how great films from the past decades and previous generations can put us in the heads of those people so we can understand what it was like to live in those times and to face choices we hopefully never have to make in our lives.
When you did the Kickstarter for Silent City, did you expect that it would be successfully funded?
The Silent City, the Kickstarter started in January of 2012, so in that year Kickstarter was certainly not in its infancy but it was also not in the stage that it is in now with so many multimillion film projects appearing on there. It was an adventure, it was definitely a very steep learning curve but as soon as I looked at Kickstarter and saw some of the projects that people were putting out there and the success they were having, I knew straight away that it was the future of films, independent films and how people are able to raise money to make a film based on their pitch rather than having a limited amount of gate keepers in Hollywood deciding what the audience will pay to see. They get to say that you can’t make this film or this film is worth making and this one isn’t. Kickstarter tears that wide open and now we can see all of these different stories told by all of those different people.
For all of these reasons, I think film and culture in our society is going towards a more democratic and direct funding method. That was really exciting and I had a story I wanted to tell and it was about a specific time in a specific place and I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that shared that interest and jumped on board. There were people that I had never met and would have never met if it was not for the power of Kickstarter.
Kickstarter, having hit its billion dollar mark in projects funded, is no longer a fringe thing; it is now part of the film industry. And just like its transforming independent game development, it is going to transform independent filmmaking. And yea, I was excited to be a part of that and that I Silent City was born from that.
How did you come up with the idea of the Silent City and the abandoned buildings?
That was interesting; I was riding my bike around in the empty streets after hurricane Irene and that strange calm after the storm, kind of weird creepy empty city feeling. It was a product of the evacuation before Hurricane Irene; this was about a year before Hurricane Sandy, it was kind of strange because Irene came along and everyone evacuated and did the right thing and it blew past New York and didn’t do damage to the city itself. So then a year later when Sandy came, people were skeptical about the evacuation order and it really had a massive effect. I did not go ride my bike during hurricane Sandy; I was bunkered down. But, that is how I got the idea, a lot of films come out of an idea or an image or a character that stays with you; they won’t let go of you. I think it is a fascinating thing with the seeds that blossom into projects. I mean you do not choose to have ideas, they just come to you when they come, as an artist, you will recognize the good ones from the bad.
Is there a possibility of a sequel to The Silent City that will pick up from where it left off?
Absolutely. I’ve written a second season that begins with the nameless hero and Otsu traveling across the country being pursued by the man they escaped from in Season 1. They set a trap for him but needless to say it goes terribly wrong and everyone ends up in the catacombs of the Undergrounders, the zombie-things that chased them in the final episode. We find out more about this strange race and why they are trying to capture the surface dwellers. We have actually planned out a lot of the world of Silent City, and would love to do more episodes that document the survivor’s journey across America and the strange inhabitants of the post-apocalyptic space. From my perspective, the real mystery driving Silent City is what caused the apocalypse – If we ever get to the reveal of that I think it will blow people’s minds.
What was your involvement in Torment: Tides of Numenera?
My involvement with Torment: The Tides of Numenera is Brian Fargo who runs Exile saw the Silent City, a web series that I did, and approached me to direct the video for the Kickstarter that they were doing. It was a lot of fun to work with those guys. I had never worked directly with a writer of a video game before. Getting to work for Fargo and his team, it gave me the sense of depth that goes into their craft of creating a world to share and unlike a film, it has a linear narrative. You have a start which proceeds to the end (in some cases, multiple ends). The challenge to a video game writer is to create every possible storyline to create all of the diverging and converging characters and stories, especially with a multilayer game like Torment. To give you an idea of what a video game script looks like, imagine the thickness of a major metropolitan telephone book. The amount of content that goes into creating them was amazing to see and I was glad that I got to be involved with these guys and I hope to do it again in the future.
Why did you choose a story about cyber warfare?
The more I researched the hidden world of cyber-warfare, the more it became apparent to me that this was the new frontier of global conflict and terrorism. We are the front line. It’s a war where our lives and the things we depend on are going to be targeted by foreign governments in retaliation for things our governments did. I tell a story that shows how this war began, that made it real. This isn’t something that is in the future, the computer virus around which the story is centered is available to any hacker on the net right now. It’s out there to be dissected, re-used, combined with other malicious code and it is just waiting for the next genius to come along.
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