There’s an infectious energy that surrounds film-maker Simon Cox. From the video production diaries through to his pitch video for Kaleidoscope Man, enthusiasm for his passion project permeates everything he does.
Simon’s independent sci-fi Kaleidoscope Man is in Phase 4 of its crowdfunding on Indiegogo. The film has been an 11 year dream for Simon, but is very firmly rooted in childhood inspiration: “it really goes back to when I saw the original Star Wars in the cinema. I was so blown away by this film [because we’d] never seen anything like it before that my brother and I...crept down under the seats, we waited for the film to finish and then we stayed in and watched it again! And you know, from that moment I just knew that I wanted to make a movie that would move and inspire people in the same way that Star Wars inspired me.”
Kaleidoscope Man centres on Thomas Dunn, a doctor at a care centre for people with mental health issues. Following the tragic loss of his baby daughter, Tom discovers his wife Mandy is pregnant. It seems like life is moving forward for the Dunns...that is until Tom experiences an apocalyptic vision that is shared by three of his patients...and a new star is discovered in the sky...
Funding for the film has been done in phases. Perks for Kaleidoscope Man’s campaigns have been tremendously exciting; from chances to be in crowd scenes to being ‘scanned by aliens’! The film also has an ardent fan base that is eagerly awaiting its release.
Simon Cox very graciously took the time to talk about Kaleidoscope Man, crowdfunding and all things film.
You’ve been working tirelessly on Phase 4 (which finishes July 4): how are you feeling?
Simon: Physically, I am exhausted. Crowdfunding really is a full time job, with regular Facebook updates, regular emails to our network and regular tweeting and engagements on Twitter. Mentally though I feel very inspired. As I write this we have raised just over £5,000 and have 188 supporters who have committed their hard earned cash to support my vision. Having this level of support and dedication to my dream project is a dream within itself and I feel so inspired and encouraged to keep doing what I am doing.
There’s a scene in the film where we see a young Tom Dunn pretending to be Kaleidoscope Man, his hero. A touch of your own boyhood inspiration there, perhaps?
Simon: Yes, I was a massive fan of The Six Million Dollar Man and truly wanted to be bionic. Kaleidoscope Man tips its hat to this series and to other US series of from the 1970s/80's.
There’s been such a tremendously positive response from Kaleidoscope Man fans and supporters. How does it feel to know that even though the film isn’t fully completed yet that there is so much love for the project?
Simon: It really is incredible and nearly everyday I get a message of encouragement and support from people who really "get" what I am trying to do. It feels amazing, because I know deep down in my heart that this film will hit a chord with a lot of people - and not just sci-fi fans.
Any ‘dark nights of the soul’ where you wanted to give up? How did you deal with that?
Simon: To be honest, I've NEVER felt like giving up. The 'dark nights of the soul' have come when I was concerned it may never happen. And that was painful. The film nearly happened about 5 years ago (on a big budget) and we spent a lot of money in pre-production. Unfortunately, the funding fell apart and it got me into a few problems that, at the time, I didn't know if I could pull myself back from it (luckily I did!).
Kaleidoscope Man is a sci-fi, but it touches on very relatable subjects, like grief and mental illness. Why did you choose to include these in the script?
Simon: Without getting too heavy, the grief side comes sadly from personal experience. I didn't really want to delve deeply into this but felt that it would give Tom and Mandy a sense of truth and realism, which it certainly does. Real characters have scars and bags which they carry through life and I felt this would make our characters more endearing. The mental health side comes from a video I made for a charity about 10 years ago. I was so inspired while making this film (for Cherry Tree Nursery) that I thought it would be a great environment to set my story in.
The film also has a lot of other relatable subjects that I think people are going to be quite surprised by. Ultimately, I'm hoping that these things will all add up to make people feeling thrilled, moved and inspired by the end of the movie.
You were inspired by Star Wars and other sci-fi gems from your childhood, but what else inspires you as a film-maker?
Simon: I get really inspired by great characters and storytelling, in films, books and in real life. I try to watch a lot of classic old movies and also listen to a lot of movie soundtracks which help me get ideas.
What has been the most difficult aspect of production to date?
Simon: The main difficulty has been funding the movie (boring answer I know!).
Kaleidoscope Man was borne of inspiration, and you hope to inspire audiences with it. Can you give aspiring film-makers any words of advice?
Simon: Here are a few tips that have kept me going:
Read 'Writing Screenplays That Sell' by Michael Hague
Write a great screenplay that YOU can make. Edit it and re-write it as suggested in the Michael Hague book.
Make films that you would really like to see.
Don't compromise on what you want - but on the other hand, don't let that compromise be a reason for not making it.
Use what you can lay your hands on to make your film. Sure we'd all like $10 million to make a film, but you don't have it. You do have a Canon 5d and a great building to shoot in however, so make it look like it cost $10 million!
Follow your gut instinct. You'll soon discover that there are a lot of experts out there who can talk the talk, but no one knows your story or film better than you do. Trust me on this one!
Keep going. Film making is a marathon not a race. Persistence, dedication and stamina will get you there. Eventually!
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