When Jeremy Lutter says he has to raise funds to keep his new film afloat, he's speaking literally.
The Victoria director, with screenwriter Daniel Hogg, is using the crowdfunding site indiegogo.com to raise $3,500 by Sept. 7 for expenses including construction of a raft for Floodplain. But it's not just any raft, he says - it's a childhood dream vehicle.
The raft is principal location for their 11-minute "floating adventure and every teenager's fantasy ride come to life," says Lutter, no stranger to such dream-weaving exploits.
Last year, Lutter raised funds online to build EAP (Edgar Allen Poe-Bot), the endearing animatronic robot featured in Joanna Makes a Friend. The awardwinning short film scripted by fellow UVic alumnus Ben Rollo focused on a lonely, imaginative girl (Dalila Bela) who builds a robot when her father (Fred Ewanuick) advises her to "make a friend."
Based on a short story by D.W. Wilson, the UVic writing grad and BBC National Short Story Award winner who Lutter met when they once collaborated on one of CineVic's Film Slam competitions, Floodplain follows two sweethearts who take a life-changing cruise across a floodplain in Invermere, B.C. after fulfilling a childhood promise to build a raft.
"They've put off building it for a long time, so the longer you wait the more awesome it has to be," Lutter said.
Lutter was thrilled he was able to cast two of B.C.'s hottest young actors in the compact coming-of-age tale. Nanaimo's Cameron Bright (Birth, Thank You for Smoking) plays Duncan, the hometown dude who wants to stay in Invermere. Vancouver actress Kacey Rohl plays Vic, his ecologically minded girlfriend who wants to move on and go to university.
"I'd wanted to work with Cameron for awhile," said Lutter. "He has a real Duncan vibe and he seemed able to relate."
Although Bright still lives in Nanaimo, he travels to where the work is. A current project in One Square Mile, Charles-Olivier Michaud's drama in which Bright plays a disenfranchised teenager who bonds with a reclusive track coach (Richard Jenkins).
Lutter was also a fan of Rohl, the rising star recently seen as a goth high school girl nicknamed Satan's Spawn in Aaron Houston's mockumentary Sunflower Hour and Gabrielle Rose's sullen teenaged daughter in Carl Bessai's Sisters & Brothers.
"I instantly remembered her from those films," said Lutter, who hopes that by early September he can start shooting the film made with support from the National Screen Institute, including up to $30,000 towards production. Lutter and Hogg were one of four teams to win the 2012 NSI Drama Prize that also afforded them a trip to Winnipeg for mentoring.
Lutter laughs as he recalls learning everything you could want to know about floodplains during a recent road trip to the Rockies to scout locations with his father, John, with whom he had planned a road trip anyway.
"I think he just wanted to go to Radium Hot Springs," Lutter said, laughing. "He helped me look through the marshes, and I began thinking, 'Couldn't we just change the title to Hot Springs?"
He said shooting 90 per cent of a film on a raft isn't as easy as it might seem.
"It's ambitious shooting on water and requires extra gear and paperwork and safety measures you might otherwise not need," said Lutter, who's getting design advice on raft construction from Paxton Downard, his robot designer on Joanna.
"It's a road story, but on water," Lutter said. "The story starts as soon as they're kicking the raft off. The characters are on a journey. It's just them traveling, getting both the raft and their lives unstuck."
Lutter and Rollo have also completed a draft of a screenplay "we're kind of happy with" for a featurelength version of Joanna Makes a Friend, which won the viewer's choice award at the TIFF Kids International Film Festival, screened at Cannes and is now in the qualifying phase for Oscar consideration while the filmmakers seek a producing partner.
Meanwhile, fans can visit indiegogo.com to track Floodplain's progress, donate to help defray costs of constructing the raft and other water-related expenses such as boat rentals, hiring safety personnel and location fees.
Pledge perks range from original storyboards to personalized postcards written by the film's characters from locations.
On the web: http: //www.indiegogo.com/ floodplain
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