Ariella Kickstarter May 2020 Update and Online Screening!
A few years ago, me, Jack Jobling and Ryan Harvey successfully crowdfunded over £10k to make the thriller short film Ariella. For some of you reading, you may have been following the project since the beginning and might be wondering what happened. Some of you may not have heard of it and don’t know what I’m on about at all. Regardless, this blog will attempt to fill you all in with what’s been going on in Ariella world, and how things are starting to take shape again.
A seemingly innocent waitress is instructed to keep an eye out on two criminals hiding out in her cafe, but her personal motives start to get in the way of her professionalism.
First off, I think it’s important that I start with an apology. In particular, a sorry to everyone that helped make Ariella possible during the Kickstarter campaign back in June 2017 by pledging money, helping us get the message out there and generally just being wonderful, excited and enthusiastic about the project from day one. It probably feels like we have been completely off the radar for a long time now, which may have led you to believe that Ariella had withered and died. But this is not the case.
For those of you that have kept up to date with what Them Pesky Kids has been up to in the years since, you’ll have seen that we’ve been extremely busy (albeit, in ebbs and flows) with other projects. This blog is an attempt to explain everything and give you all some clarity about what’s been going on behind the scenes of Ariella. At the end, we also have an exciting announcement for the Kickstarter backers.
After finishing the edit, the project felt really hopeful. Cinematographer Will Price did a fantastic job with the colour grade, composer Giuseppe Alfano had delivered a dope score, we had a great poster designed by Cong Nguyen and we were able to feature a beautiful track for the ending credits by Adam Peter Smith. The tick list was being filled and we were feeling very confident, excited about the prospect of moving closer and closer to getting the project out to festivals and the fans that had made it all possible. We even screened the film as part of our showcase at the Nottingham Contemporary back in May 2018 in front of a packed out audience, but even at that point it wasn’t quite finished. The last thing to be finished was the sound design.
Me and Jack had a very precise vision for the sound design that matched the film’s fluid and overlapping pacing and structure. It was experimental at times, and would change according to the storyline and character perspective we were following. But with this, came a complexity that was difficult to communicate with our sound designer Rob Brown, who had become busy working as a sound recordist on BBC series in Manchester. After months of toing and froing, Rob, unfortunately, stepped away from the project.
At this point, myself, Ryan and Jack were becoming increasingly concerned about the mounting responsibilities, all of which grew more and more stale as time went on. This was highlighted further by the distinct lack of funds, both as a business and personally for all of us. The rewards and the online screener we had promised to the Kickstarter backers throughout the campaign nearly two years previously were nowhere near ready, we had no money to pay for the rights to feature the song ‘Want Me’ by Puma Blue, and the submission deadlines for our desired festivals were flying by. And now, we were without a sound designer. At this point, having finished shooting a year ago already, the project had come to a standstill.
Writing about all of this now with a more objective view, it’s quite easy to look back and see that we had a near finished film in our hands. With just a bit of determination, we could have easily gotten ourselves out of this rut, right? By this point, if we include the writing process and the run up the Kickstarter campaign, we had been working on Ariella for four years. To put it bluntly, I was becoming so disillusioned with the film to the point where I wanted to abandon it, too intimidated by the size of the tasks that needed to be completed to get it across the finishing line. Some solace and comfort would come from talking to other filmmakers from Nottingham that were going through similar situations with their projects- it became apparent that the pain of a project that you love faltering and grinding to halt was something that I shared. But the to-do list wasn’t shrinking.
In November 2018, a ray of sunshine came in the form of Mat Thomas. With a past in sound design for live music, Mat had been wanting to gain some sound design experience for a few years now, and was willing to do something for free to get some experience. After a great chat, we were all super excited to get him on board. The first draft of the sound design did nothing short of completely re-awaken our passion and excitement for the project. I was watching and hearing the film we’d always wanted. A few tweaks here and there, and the sound design was finished. Tick!
Something that wasn’t on our to-do list (that totally should have been all along), was to get ourselves back on our feet. To paint a picture, me and Ryan had been living together throughout all of this, working on Ariella and all the other Them Pesky Kids projects, both creative and commercial. Our house was our office, and separating work with normal life was becoming near impossible. Jack was a student, helping us with the company but also incredibly busy with all his coursework, and was as broke as a, well, a student. So, me and Ryan moved out and got jobs. Finally, we could afford baked beans and not feel bad about it! With financial freedom came a much, much better headspace. The tasks on the to-do list not only became more economically feasible, but we found ourselves actually wanting to get them done more, fueled by a reinvigorated enthusiasm for the project and getting it finished. Tick!
With a new perspective on how to look after ourselves, the redirection of Them Pesky Kids, and the completion of corporate projects, we were now able to put some money aside to pay the fees for the rights to use Puma Blue’s song in the film.
With this, on Monday 20th September 2019, Ariella was officially finished.
As I write this update, we have submitted Ariella to 10 festivals around the UK and US, with more submissions to come in the next few months. And with that, comes our big announcement!
We have released Ariella as a private screener to every single backer that pledged money to us and it is available now for them to watch. However, if you didn't back us Ariella will also be streaming live, along with two of our other short films, on Saturday 23rd May from 8pm as part of the virtual Nottstopping Festival, which has been aptly described as ‘a Bank Holiday Extravaganza Celebrating and Connecting Nottinghamshire whilst fundraising to provide gifts, treats and experiences for Frontline Workers.’ We’re incredibly excited to get the film out there- after all, it is what we made the film for more than anything; to be seen and enjoyed by audiences.
Further announcement: If you can’t quite make the advertised screening, we will be making the film available on our Vimeo page all weekend! We must ask you all to not share the film online. That being said, if you’re looking to arrange some lockdown entertainment in the evenings with your friends and/or family, we say more the merrier! (Stick it on past the kid’s bedtime though, there’s swearing, drug use and hints of violence)
Past that, we are now working on delivering the Kickstarter rewards to those of you that backed us during the Kickstarter campaign. Among them, an audio commentary for Ariella by the three of us, as well as individual commentaries for a few of our older and more recent films, stills from the film, and of course- the song from Ryan’s Musical Challenge.
Thanks for reading everyone, and thank you to all of you that have been asking about how the project’s been going over the years. It means the world. Stay safe, and I hope you enjoy the film!
Co-Writer and Co-Director