Left Hand of Man-A World Without Air
My name is Jeremy Pelsinski and I am a wildlife biologist turned filmmaker (more about me below). I am now working on my Intermediate Thesis Film. This film is special for me because it is the first project in which we were given enough time to truly develop a story we wanted to tell.
Titled The Left Hand of Man, the story is set in the near future, in a world in which society failed to slow our destruction of the planet. By tipping the balance of the worlds oceans too far, there was a worldwide marine algae die off. Since these tiny organisms produce 80% of our oxygen, the result of this catastrophic die off is a world in which the air cannot sustain animal or human life. What few people survived the mass extinction event, now live in a society in which the most valuable resource is air, which is canned for breathing masks or pumped into buildings by a single large, centralized company, Oxsynergy Industries.
For the film, we follow the story of Delilah Bonnet, a low ranking runner for a group of "freedom fighters" known as the ClearSky movement, who believe that air (and what it provides: life) should not be a product that is purchased and that access to it should be a basic human right. When a raid by the group is ambushed by law enforcement, Delilah is the only one to make it out. Finding herself alone in one of their safe houses, she begins to discover that the inner circle of the organization has been working on a secret project.
The project aimed to create a biological process, which will allow people to breathe nitrogen (still abundant in the air) instead of oxygen thus freeing them from the corporate control of the air industry.
She must now figure out what to do with this discovery and how to continue the process, all the while, law enforcement closes in on discovering her location.
Through this story, I am able to take some of the environmental and social issues that I am most passionate about and address them in an exciting and unique way. I believe that I can reach a larger audience by presenting the issues in a way that gets them thinking but without blatantly cramming it down their throats. My instructors have all been very enthusiastic about the originality of the idea and believe that once I get out of school I could develop the concept into a full-length feature film and use this short film to pitch it.
The Issues and the Reason for the Fundraiser
The program allows each student 5 days to film and I began production on June 25th. Right from the start I began encountering numerous complications outside of my control. However with the incredible dedication of both my cast and crew, we were able to overcome all of these challenges except for three.
On the first day of my shoot, my roommate (best friend, fellow wildlife activist turned filmmaker, and producer of my project) was involved in a major accident on Highway 170 when the rental trailer inexplicably lost control. The accident totaled our 4Runner, the rental trailer, and some of the film equipment being transported. What is truly most important is that both my roommate and the driver of the other vehicle were not injured. After all, gear is replaceable; lives are not. However, this set us more than a half a day behind schedule.
Second, one of our locations decided to unjustly pull the plug on us the night before we were supposed to film at his location. We had complied with all of his requests, filled out all of the paperwork properly, and obtained the permits needed, but he decided that he no longer wished to work with us. Since this news came in the night before, we did not have the time to make other arrangements and this set us a second day behind schedule.
Finally, I was informed that there had been a mishap with my camera team, and the majority of the footage from our day filming in the desert was never backed up. The memory cards were returned to the rental house and were wiped clean before being sent out again. This was the most devastating of the complications because the footage we had shot was absolutely beautiful and everyone put so much time and energy into capturing it. We have some footage from the last hour that day but the rest seems to be lost. We have been trying to work out how some of the footage could have been backed up while the rest was not, however this mystery put us a third day behind schedule.
(We thought we might be able to fix it at first but the accident not only tore off our back right tire but bent the axil and the frame enough to total the vehicle)
If there is one thing I have learned from this experience so far is that if you "roll with the punches" and do whatever it takes to keep moving forward, nothing can stop you. This fundraiser marks the next step in continuing that forward motion. The footage I have captured looks incredible and I am so close to seeing my vision brought to life.
I have already put just shy of ten thousand dollars of my own money into this project. But that was all the money I am able to spend. I've already had to request additional school loans to pay the rent and put food on the table.
In order to complete my film I need to raise $6,000 for the three pickup days. This will cover re-renting film and lighting equipment, props and set design rentals, a truck to transport it all, location and permitting fees and cast and crew costs. I won't stop until this film is complete because I truly believe in the story and it's message. But no matter what happens, I have to give a HUGE thank you to my cast and crew, their unwavering hard work and positive attitude truly has given me the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Already this project has been a huge learning experience and a stepping-stone in giving me the knowledge and skill sets I need to be the change I wish to see in the world.
I need your help to see it through the rest of the way. No matter how much or little you can afford to give, every bit helps. If you cannot give anything, that's ok too, you can help me just as much by sharing this fundraiser with friends and family.
In whatever way you can help, I want to thank you in advance for making this dream a reality.
About the Filmmaker
As I said above, my name is Jeremy Pelsinski and I am a wildlife biologist and environmental activist turned filmmaker. I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and Management from the University of Wyoming and spent several years working various field research positions from Alaska to Florida.
But my passion has always been conservation and public outreach. I believe that in today's media-based society the best way to share that passion is through video and film. So with one foot in the world of science and research, I decided to take a leap of faith and put my other foot in the world of film. In Sept. 2012 I started an MFA filmmaking program at the New York Film Academy's Los Angeles campus.
Through this program I hope to accomplish two things. First, to learn how to use narrative storytelling through film to promote sustainability and conservation based themes. And second to learn what it is about film and television that captures the attention of the general public and bring those techniques over to the world of documentary filmmaking to create educational works that appeal to a larger audience than just those who are already interested in wildlife and the sciences.
For this update I have something special, instead of a world of the story update, I have a peak into my personal life with a video I just put up to promote this fundraiser!
Over the last two days I have been working with our pet Argentine Black and White Tegu, Drake. He is quite a large lizard and contrary to popular belief, he is very intelligent and has lots of personality!
This is the first time we have used him in a video, but thanks to his inquisitive nature, I think it turned out really well!
If it made you smile, please share the Youtube link:
Please donate anything you can, if you cannot afford much, all I ask is $1, no donation is insignificant, and each one gets me that much closer to my goal!!
As per my previous updates, here is another piece of trivia:
The catastrophic environmental events that brought about the end of most of the oxygen effected more than just mankind. Almost all animal life was also wiped out.
As humanity struggled to overcome this apocalypse, little thought was put into saving the animals around them in the process. Any animals that did manage to be saved alongside people are now a rare and spectacular sight and are another privilege of the social elite.
This also effected the diets of the survivors of the human race. 99.9% of humanity are vegan considering that plants are the only thing that grows in abundance. Though some of the most finacially well off members of society still have access to eggs, milk and cheese, even among the elite meat is almost never consumed. To eat one of these precious animals means loosing it and is a practice that almost never happens.
Now begins the tough part. I have learned a lot about fundraising since starting this page. I have dedicated 8-12 hours a day to learning about how to successfully fundraise and share/pitch my project all across the internet. Of everything I have read, the project has now entered a slow period. Generally, the first quarter of the donations come in strong and fast, people are excited by the effort and a lot of friends and family help out in whatever way they can. Similarly, the last 25% of the way to the goal sees a lot of support because the fundraiser is so close to being complete. However the middle area often sees a slowdown in help.
That is why I need your help more than ever to donate if you have not already, and/or just as importantly, share my fundraiser!
To try and keep up with my previous updates, here is a bit more about the world of my story!
In a world without air, some things about society have changed. One aspect that will play out in my short film is the manor in which judicial execution is performed. When someone has committed crimes severe enough to be sentenced to death (though the word 'severe' is certainly exaggerated when it comes to Haven's central government), they are brought to an execution chamber.
This chamber is usually a converted wear house or aircraft hanger. After a brief ceremony in which the criminal's last rights are read, everyone present save for the criminal dons oxygen masks. At this point, large doors are opened to the outside world and the criminal lasts as long as they can hold their breath.
Also, keeping on the topic of the elite, another interesting effect of the world are tan lines. Generally, people do not spend a lot of time outside since canned air costs money. But for those who are well off, this is no issue. Similar to the sunglass tan lines of beach goers today, wealthy individuals who choose to spend a large amount of recreational time outdoors develop air mask tan lines around their mouth and nose. Though this may look a bit humorous to us, it is looked at as a symbol of status in Haven society. This is another element I hope to add into the feature length script.
I just added reward levels and I will explain the details of each here. For those who have already donated, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
As far as credits go for the film, if you donated anonymously, you will be credited as anonymous (Ex. Special thanks to Person A, Person B, Person C, and 12 anonymous donors). If you donated anonymously but want your name in the credits, OR you donated regularly but want to be anonymous in the credits, email email@example.com and we will get it worked out, no worries!
All rewards will be sent upon the film's completion. For rewards that need to be mailed, I will be sending you an email via this page for your mailing address once the film is complete.
Just to give you a further glimpse into the world of my story, here is an outline of the significance of the names of each level.
Worried Citizen and Social Activist "“ These have to do with the people of the city of Haven who are starting to grow concerned over how much control Oxsynergy Industries has over their everyday way of life. Though we don't dive too much into this aspect of the story in the short, if/when I develop the idea into a feature length script, I plan to take a deeper look into the social structure of the last city on earth!
ClearSky Member "“ The ClearSky movement is the chief opposition against the tyranny that the air industry is bringing upon Haven's citizens. They live outside the law and while they try not to be overly militarized, they are often involved in direct confrontations with the Ciple Field Office of Haven.
ClearSky Runner "“ This category of member is special because it is the role of our protagonist Delilah within the movement. She's fast, both physically and mentally, and that makes her ideal for running important packages for the organization.
Inner Circle "“ ClearSky's leadership is known as the Inner Circle. Not much is known about how many make up the Inner Circle or what all they are working on, however Delilah begins to uncover an Inner Circle project known as Symbiotic Dawn.
Breather "“ Symbiotic Dawn seeks to form a symbiotic relationship between humans and a genetically modified strain of nitrogen fixing bacteria. The bacteria partially feed on the nitrogen still present in the atmosphere and produces oxygen as a byproduct. Once a bacterial colony is established in a person's lungs, the person then breathes the outside air unaided, feeding the colony, which produces oxygen to be taken up by the host. Though the term "Breather" doesn't pop up in the short film, it will become the term for those who have taken in the bacteria and no longer need to live under the control of the air industry.
Jumping back outside the world of my story if you are interested in the Breather level, the prop taser needs a bit of description so here it is!
The story within the world of the story:
Since gunpowder won't ignite in a world without oxygen, guns are no longer used. The Ciple Department, the law enforcement branch of the city of Haven, got around this by creating the Ground Unit Suppressor Model 6 taser (G.U.S. MP6 for short). Regularly the taser is a bit larger than the size of a nightstick (2' 4'') but for combat purposes can telescope out into a full spear (approximately 6' long).
Outside the world of the story:
I designed and built the prototype for this prop. It has three clasps along its length that lock it in place whether short or extended. The head lights up, and is turned on by a button on the battery pack at the base. It will remain lit whether collapsed, extended, or transitioning between the two and runs on 4 AA batteries.
After the prototype was figured out, my art department and I constructed a total of 6 tasers for use by my protagonist as well as the officers who oppose her in the film. If you select the Breather level donation, you will receive one of these 6 unique pieces of my early film career.