- Category: More Top Stories
- Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 15:55
- Written by Gordon Meyer
Michael Reaves has been a successful writer since his first produced work appeared in 1975, an episode on the kids TV series “Isis.” He’s had a busy film and television career ever since, having written several New York Times best-seller novels as well as numerous sci-fi, fantasy and animated TV series, including episodes for “The Incredible Hulk,” “The Smurfs,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and animated incarnations of Batman, Superman and Spider-Man.
A few years ago, Reaves was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but the news didn’t stop his career — not by a long shot. His newest project is Blood Kiss, a noir vampire film set in 1940s Hollywood. “In terms of story, there’s something very seminal about the way Blood Kiss unfolds,” says Reaves. “Without going into specifics, I think I can safely say that it hits all the tropes of both the detective genre and the vampire genre, and does so in a very organic way.” While people loved Reaves’ script, he hit some roadblocks before getting it sold because, even though it’s a vampire story, people just couldn’t wrap their heads around Reaves’ vampires, which are completely different from today’s romanticized creatures. “When I finished Blood Kiss and gave it to my agent, he read it and, in his first breath, assured me that he liked it,” Reaves recalls, “[and] then, in his second [breath, he] assured me that he couldn’t sell it. It seemed that, at the time, one couldn’t throw a rock in this town without hitting a writer clutching a vampire script, the sparkly, twinkly romantic kind, of course. Even if I could place Blood Kiss at one of the studios, it would likely just sit on a shelf gathering more dust than Kharis the Mummy did while pining for Princess Ananka.” Faced with limited studio options, Reaves decided to take matters into his own hands and make the film himself.
Reaves learned the hard way how raising the money for an independent production can be an uphill battle. “It’s a funny thing about venture capitalists,” Reaves notes. “None of them wants to put down the first money. They’ll line up and stumble all over themselves to drop the second, third, fourth greenback on the barrelhead, as long as someone else goes first. It’s a game as old as Hollywood.” Reaves turned to crowd-funding to generate that seed capital — a method that’s not so unusual these days — but the elements he and his colleagues had while going into the project elevated the process to new levels. For starters, Reaves and his partners are also developing a graphic novel with noted comic-book artist Tom Mandrake, whose impressive body of work includes “Batman” for DC Comics, “Wolverine” and “The Punisher” for Marvel, and “To Hell You Ride” for Dark Horse. The graphic novel project will be an expansion of the Blood Kiss screenplay, and the timetable for its distribution is in the works, but the goal is to have it lead the release of the film. Since writing graphic novels requires a different skill set than when writing screenplays, Reaves will hire a qualified writer but stay intimately involved with the adaptation of his source material. According to Producer David Raiklen, the intention is to simply produce the best possible graphic novel, whether Reaves writes it himself, collaborates with another writer, or hands it off completely.
With no solid start date for production, Reaves and his partners are currently raising the funds to make their movie. They’ve already received commitments from Actress Amber Benson (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and legendary Comic Book Author Neil Gaiman (“Stardust,” “Coraline,” “The Sandman”) to star in the film. Gaiman will make his acting debut in Blood Kiss with a key role as a 1940s Hollywood director, while Benson will play a singing vampire. “I play this amazing character named Ruby,” says Benson, who is very excited about the role. “She sings, and I love to sing. I never get the opportunity to sing, [but] I did it in ‘Buffy’ and it went really well.”
According to Raiklen, the plan is to produce the movie on a micro-budget of $200,000 using a lot of green screen, virtual sets and deferred payments — though with more funds, the film can get made faster and with more “realistic” locations. The team is using social media to raise a good portion of the money. Earlier this year, a successful 30-day Kickstarter campaign generated more than $88,000 — almost double their Kickstarter goal of $50,000. According to the Blood Kiss Kickstarter page, $50K will jumpstart preproduction and prove that there’s a demand for the project, while $100K will cover basic materials and rentals plus technical crew, like location sound or digital compositors. Roughly half of the money will go to production (for real sets, digital sets, costumes, cameras and crew meals during 16-hour days) and the other half to postproduction.
Since Blood Kiss is a vampire noir, the style of the production will maintain the feel of a classic noir film. “It’s not going to be strictly black and white, although it will have that kind of feel to it,” explains Raiklen. “We plan to have a dramatic use of color.” The team is also considering the possibility of a 3D production as they weigh the shooting/conversion options. Raiklen says that the final budget details will be determined once they know how much money can be raised. While $200,000 is the minimum goal, raising more money will put more production value on the big screen. “Kickstarter is just that, kickstarting the process by getting the first money,” says Raiklen. With over $88,000 secured in seed capitol, the team is open to using Kickstarter to raise the entire production budget, but they’re pursuing other fundraising strategies as well. They anticipate having enough funding in place to begin principle photography in early 2014, having already done preliminary scheduling with key above- and below-the-line talent.
Meanwhile, the post-Kickstarter fundraising campaign continues. “We’re just going day to day trying to make the best possible movie,” reports Raiklen. “Hitting all these milestones opens up other possibilities to make it an even better movie.” To learn more about Blood Kiss, visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2126085206/blood-kiss.