Voodoonaut (A feature film)



'My main plan was to create a film with friends and then just release it for free. However, with the encouragement of friends and fellow filmmakers who helped create it, I now waded into the unknown territory of pitching this film so that it might get into festivals. After the bottom fell out of a financing deal, I hope the public may like the trailer's look and want to see the film finished. After working on it for three years, it would be a shame not to get it over the finishing line.' - John Clay, Director


CAST, CREW INVOLVED THUS FAR

Sofia Martins Gray, Camille Alexander, Lars Chittka, Barbara Pugilise, Hazel Turnock, Nicholas Anson, Patrick Lyons, Ashleigh Cole, Autumn Bilal, Liam Rigney, Ola Kitchen, Nathan Ridley, Iggy Crespop, Arran Goodchild, Kyriaki Karadelis, Neil Anderson, Lou Smith, Andras Paul, Ludovic Cairtey, Rob Homewood, Aloha Dead, Shogo Hino, Sergio Angot, Levant Kucukkaya, Rupert Hitchcox, Joe Futak, Dee Bryne, James Spankie, Crispin Gray, Darren Lawrence, Catherine Chambers, Katie Sharman, John Clay and Danny Butcher.


Photography by @lousmithphoto (superimposed with a shot by me). Subjects are @barbarapugliese_ As The Prime and the huge hand belongs to @chittka, who plays The Old Man With No Name.

TARGET UPDATE!
£780 raised for #Voodoonaut in 7 days.

7 days!

Awesome work. Truly, it inspires our team to know that despite these hard times, people are donating to our feature film.

The scene we're shooting this Sunday, 13th Nov needs all the support you can give, and we've had to become extremely creative to make it happen.

Through personal sacrifice and inventive streamlining of the process, we've lowered our target to £1500. The closer we get between now and then will help bring this film's fever vision to life!

As I've stated in earlier posts and comments, money isn't the only way to help. If a fiver is out of bounds in these hard times, then a like and a share has proved to be just as valid. Every other share results in more cash donations.

Thank you for reading, and do have an amazing day if you can x x x

Support the production via the heylink in my bio x x x x x x

#Voodoonaut #director #film #gofundme #teamwork #art #chemicallysinister #lousmith #barbarapugliese #larschittka


INTRODUCTION

Journeys change us, don’t they? Whether you’re taking a vacation with a new love or trekking alone across a bleak landscape, the notion of travel from A to B can change the traveller. The adventure can alter their perception of where they’ve been and where they’re going. Moreover, a hazardous expedition has the potential to prompt the big question: Who am I?


WHAT'S THE FILM ABOUT?

Voodoonaut is a science fiction film about such a journey.
Lt Julia Earle is the latest pilot on an experimental space-faring mission to negotiate with a UFO that's on a collision course for Earth. The mission is jeopardised when Julia's communication with Earth is lost, and her mentality begins to break down. Populated with characters with designs on her agency, Julia is forced to engage with the unknown elements of her inner and outer space. She will never be the same again.


Meanwhile, in a shadowy gothic picture house, a young woman with no memory watches Julia's exploits on screen, challenged by a mysterious caretaker to decipher the meaning of Julia's journey so that she may be granted freedom beyond the picture house's walls.


Audiences are challenged to play detective in a feature presented as a redacted version of events circa 1989. This story choice lends itself to a retrospective view of cosmic horror. This view is comparative to 21st Century existential dread courtesy of elite greed and toxic actions from male-dominated industries.

95% of the film is complete, with only a few critical scenes left. The current runtime stands at 112 mins.


The USP of this narrative is the experimental form of space travel.
The pilot is submerged in a liquid-filled chamber and hooked up to sophisticated headgear. Their consciousness is ‘thrown out' into the void of space. All their observations are relayed back to the monitors at ground control.


The process relies upon cinematic depictions of the cosmos to portray Julia's experiences in viewscreens. This fact presents unique complications, mainly in Julia’s discovery of a deity seemingly wiped out of history by early man. Is the goddess a creative interpretation of Julia’s encounter with the UFO?
There is one certainty: Interaction with the perceived divinity (referred to as The Prime) triggers Julia into questioning her life on Earth: is it worth returning to?


MAIN CHARACTERS

Lt Julia Earle - Beneath her obedient exterior, Julia harbours resentment for her handlers, and the deconstructive side effect of the experimental travel brings her rebellion to the fore. Her altruism stems from her belief that life as she knows it is worth dying for.

Connie - Connie is overtly curious about her environment and the old man who turns out to be her captor. Her quick wit and observation evidence her determination to save herself from her surreal surroundings.

The Old Man - He is a mysterious antagonist who will not allow Connie to leave his home unless she correctly guesses his name. His focus on Connie reveals a petty mind familiar to women everywhere.

The Prime - A goddess stricken from the record books by early man. As the story unfolds, we discover there is more to The Prime than meets the eye.

Jacqueline Rousseau - Jacqueline’s intellect has fuelled a lifestyle that marks her out in her township. Aside from her wilful traits, Jacquline’s character is defined by her desire to take people under her wing. She sees The Prime for what it is, hence its fascination with her.

The Data Miner - Julia’s handler is a cyborg who needs to learn more about The Prime. He is, unfortunately, a narcissist and nurtures a sexual deviancy focussed on Julia, a drive rivalled only by his desire to find out more about The Prime.

Judith Marie Earle - Passionately driven to protect their family at all costs and suspicious of their methods thus far, Judith is a complex and mysterious character. The less said here, the better. Like her daughter, Judith is a Voodoonaut. The fusion of occult practices and tech that make the Further Space project possible has scrambled her sense of self. They have also opened up dormant ways of thinking and feeling about the world.

Doctor Felix Barton - Responsible for the Further Space Programme and projecting a fatherly persona, Felix Barton is more often than not keen to exploit any opportunity to further his research. He is in denial of how damaging his self-deception can foist upon his team, let alone himself.

General Richards - A no-nonsense military get-things-done-yesterday character, General Arnold Richards is keen to focus on the mission at the expense of its personnel.


MEET THE TEAM

Multidisciplinary workaholic John Clay (Theatre and Media Studies graduate) has spent years filming music videos and live sessions for many leftfield groups demanding a strong emphasis on narrative and theme. Voodoonaut would be his debut feature. The film draws upon his concern with the constructs of race and gender, which are seldom addressed with nuance in speculative fiction, let alone from a black filmmaker. How has our collective imagination been subject to corporate forces and drive motivated by positioning the American lifestyle as normative? Keen on inspiring solidarity through essays, interviews, a novel and his regular video content, John Clay’s move into feature film work within the curious realm of science fiction was inevitable.


Camille Alexander plays the role of Connie.
She is a multidisciplinary artist and director in her own right.
Her fierce stance as a body hair-positive model proved crucial to the metafictional aspects of scenes shot for the project thus far.

Sofia Martins Gray plays the role of Lt Julia Earle. Although this is her first acting role, Sofia is custom fit for a part which requires the discipline of Butoh dance techniques for scenes which depict the psychological hardship her character faces. Indeed, her polaroid self-portraiture and filmmaking for the Voodoonaut project cannot be overstated as vital to the look and atmosphere of the production.

Barbara Pugliese is passionate about working on art collaborations which allow her to explore her voice and movement. She has created experimental sound and performance on visual art projects with multidisciplinary artists Celia Arias ​( Triformis - 2020)​, Maria Almena from Kimatica Studio (​Transcendence -2018) ​and Sybilla Bam Bam ​( Magic Mirror -2019).

‘​I am grateful to be surrounded by talented friends who have inspired and helped me to create my identity as an artist.
I am who I am because of you.’

Aloha Dead are a creative duo whose musicianship and flair for Lynchian theatrics caught John Clay's attention. 'Dead' plays Judith Marie Earle whilst their partner, 'Mr Aloha', plays the sinister cyborg known as The Data Miner.

'A cacophonous sinking sand of sonic art - hypnotic, lovely, harsh and delicate.'

Ashleigh Cole has been exploring the London fringe theatre and independent film scenes for the past few years, with a long background in theatre and more classical pieces before that. She is a lover of everything from musicals to thrillers and crime stories, so she can't wait to find her voice in Voodoonaut and bring life to the role of Jacqueline.

Patrick Lyons a.k.a. ph7 is a poet, radio broadcaster, actor and promoter who has been a figure on the London Underground's independent music scene for years. He has worked closely with bands such as Miro Shot (formerly Breton) and the Fat White Family. Past collaborations in film and music video production include Roman Rappak, Tobias Marshall, James Ward and Lou Smith. Between 2012-2016 and with an invitation from Kashman Harris, ph7 offered creative direction to graduate film students on acting, writing and producing their final film projects at Ravensbourne University, Greenwich. His voice acting in Voodoonaut has gravitas, and just like his music, it is a joy to listen to.

Multiple scenes were shot by Lou Smith, a self-taught visual artist chiefly in the fields of sculpture, jewellery, photography, videography and screen-printing. He has documented and supported the underground music scene for over a decade. The cinematography from Smith's considered approach has been exemplary, particularly for Barbara and Camille's results).

Sergio Angot has earned numerous awards for his many years of work behind the camera. Having worked with John Clay before with a shared intrigue for innovative filming, Sergio is a great candidate for the task at hand.

After working together on Uncle John's 'Ground Zero' music video, Shogo Hino and John Clay were keen to work together again. Shogo's sharply shot drone work in Italy delivered luscious exterior cinematograghy to help contextualise the story.

Ludovic Cairtey 'I developed a passion for photography in my 20s, and started as a freelance photojournalist in various countries such as Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. Now I'm focusing on travel photography and drone video production, selling work through different agencies. I became an FPV drone pilot two years ago, opening endless possibilities for dynamic and creative shots.'

Andras Paul is a magician with a camera. Don't take our word for it. Take a look at his website in your own time to find another reason to believe in this project's potential.

'I am a London-based music photographer from a traditional art background back in Hungary. Whenever I feel discouraged with my creative projects, I grab my camera and head to a gig.'

Catherine Chambers is the head of the art dept and set design. Her experience in this area is considerable, and she has worked with director John Clay on the official music video for ‘Amerikkka’ by Beadyman.

Longterm John Clay collaborator in music and visual Effects, Rob Homewood’s flair for problem-solving and adaptability marks his contribution as instrumental to its success. His contribution to the shots (especially the trees) is invaluable.

(More info on cast/crew info will be added here over time).

PRODUCTION HISTORY

The venture has been self-funded by director John Clay and is open to investment for a pivotal scene filmed in the UK (shoot date Sunday, Nov 13th, 2022).

The project has been in production since autumn 2019, and despite the pandemic’s disruption to the schedule, the team has continued shooting in Italy, Spain and on the remote isle of Hoy.

The soundtrack consists of original work by cult experimental saxophonist Dee Bryne. Their freeform jazz via an array of guitar pedals echoes Eduard Artemyev’s score for Tarkovsky’s Solaris. The trailer features 'Branches' by Cave pop artist Coco Varda (their EP 'There Are Worse Things On The Internet is out now).

Special thanks to Dee Bryne for the use of their music in this teaser:

Also, much gratitude to Coco Varda for the use of 'Branches' in the promo: https://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/2022/09/30/enter-the-world-of-coco-varda/


HOW WILL THE FUNDS BE USED?

Money raised in this campaign will fund production slated to take place on Sun 13th Nov. Your donations will pay for on-screen talent, camera operators, audio, drone operators, the art dept, make-up, set dressing, lighting, catering and travel.


Dealing with the theme of control and who writes history, the script to be shot on Sun 13th Nov features Jacqueline Rousseau (portrayed by Ashleigh Cole), a fine artist who lived in Canterbury in 1483.



We witness Jacqueline spurn the advances of her neighbour, Jim Proctor (The camera operator acts as his P.O.V of this part to be played via voice actor in post-production). Scenes which juxtapose Jacqueline’s dilemma and her communication with a supernatural force (an earlier visit from the UFO?) present a stimulating mental challenge to cinemagoers.


Voodoonaut stands a chance of becoming a worthy entrant to a genre which must always push its boundaries lest it slumps into predictable and risk-averse vehicles. Science Fiction that positions spectacle over investigation nullifies the potency of transformative creative writing. Entertainment industries can only profit from their support of projects which ask the big question: Who am I?


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Organizer

John Clay 
Organizer
Drewstead Road, London

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