Local Production Value
Ten years ago, it was impossible for the average person to make their own movie — unless that person was okay with cardboard sets and laughably bad cameras, or unless they were especially wealthy. But Edmond filmmaker Kyle Roberts is determined to bring the movie that’s in his head into the world, and he’s using some innovative techniques to make that happen.
“Posthuman” is a teen movie in the spirit of nostalgic ’80s high school flicks like “The Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles,” except in “Posthuman,” the teens happen to be superheroes. “I’m a big fan of your angsty teen movies. Throw in some superpowers and there’s no way you’re going to go wrong with that,” relates Alex Harris, who plays a goodhearted cheerleader who develops the ability to stop other characters’ powers. “It’s an all-around good story and it’s something anyone and everyone can relate to.”
Harris, an Edmond Santa Fe graduate, found out about the film through a casting director, auditioned and got the part. “I love stories. I read about a book a week, so if I can become a story and show that to others, there’s nothing better,” she says.
The film is about four high school students who evolve into something greater, but the flick, which is about to start shooting, is proof that filmmaking itself has evolved. Today, top-quality cameras are more accessible, the Internet has provided an array of opportunities for artists to find support, and affordable software can create blockbuster-caliber special effects. To raise the bare-minimum $50,000 budget, Roberts has staged two music festivals, used a billboard, employed social media, set a benefit banquet, appeared on TV, commissioned a tie-in comic book, made a page on donation site indiegogo.com, whipped up a variety of promotional art and participated in a reality show in Los Angeles. Every attempt gets him closer to that number.
Roberts is sworn to secrecy about the reality show, but he can say that it pits filmmakers from across the country against each other. “I know it’s a cash prize,” he says, and he promises, “I know I’m going to give every dollar to ‘Posthuman’ because I really want to see this thing made.”
He has already made a name for himself with stop-animation shorts and music videos, and his work is all over YouTube, but “Posthuman” is his first attempt at a feature-length, live-action production. The goal is a 24-day shoot, spread out over 30 days, making the most of his young cast’s school breaks.
Collin Place, who plays an unpredictable “cool nerd” in the shadow of his popular older brother, is, in real life, a freshman at Edmond Santa Fe. “He’s got the smarts,” Place says of his character, one who develops super strength. “He’s probably the smartest guy in the school, including the teachers, but he doesn’t get much respect.”
He explains that the abilities the characters develop, like his strength, Harris’s protective ability, and other characters’ teleportation and pyrokinesis, have to do with what each character needs or desires. Place’s character tries to discover the source of these powers, and he and the other characters run into some trouble.
Roberts plans to release the film online split into about 12 episodes, but release it on DVD as a full-length film. The episodes will appear regularly on posthumanmovie.com and on a tablet app, and the next week they will appear on YouTube. Roberts says they may have it in a few fesitvals, but bypassing the typical indie film fesitval circuit, will save them $10- to $15,000.
For now, Roberts plans to do all of the visual effects himself. They shot a “test scene” months ago to entice investors. They’ve raised just under $20,000, and they’re inching toward their goal. Roberts explains that they need $30,000 to shoot the film and $20,000 for postproduction. They’ve been in preproduction since January. So far, all of the money has been crowd-raised or from Roberts’ own pocket. Ultimately, he says, great movies aren’t about budgets, but creativity.
Partly, Roberts just wants to prove that something like this can be done in Oklahoma. He explains there are pros and cons to shooting in this state. One of the hurdles is that if he needs special equipment he has to have it overnighted from another state. However, on the plus side, “The film crews that are here are very talented and they want to be here,” he said. Although this is his first feature film, Roberts says about 20 people on his crew have worked on features.
“We don’t have to wait for Hollywood to ‘green-light’ projects like this,” he says. “We can do it right here in Oklahoma, as a family.”