Have you ever asked Siri: "What's a movie that's quirky and sort of French, but not Wes Anderson? And zany like Looney Tunes but not overly obnoxious?" Only to be answered: "That movie does not exist. Have you considered therapy?" Save a bundle on sessions by helping us make that movie instead!
Mission StatementHow do you spot an Appalachian creator? And what makes a story Appalachian? Well: a story is Appalachian if it has Appalachian influence and/or creators - genre and themes aside. And you can't "spot" us. Our all-Appalachian cast/crew is: white, black, Asian, female, male, LGBTQ+, aged 13 - 55.
About The Project
Ambrosia! is the story of Quilliam Frankfurt, a bed and breakfast owner/operator surviving a day in the life of independent entrepreneurship in Beckley, West Virginia. Quilliam approaches his endeavors wholeheartedly, though he frequently under-reaches both his own expectations and those of his guests. The inn's clients are trapped inside for the day due to threats of inclement weather and their host must navigate their clashing personalities, find creative ways to stave off stir-craziness, and above all maintain the mystique of their surroundings.
The Ambrosia Inn is a currently operational lodging option near downtown Beckley. It is a beautiful, unique location with a plethora of varied design, lighting, and atmosphere elements already built in. Collaborating with the inn's own creative manager and our production design team we are poised to craft a fantastical, unique setting for the world of Quilliam and his guests.
Ambrosia! is a slapstick comedy, played nostalgically with the pacing of a classic screwball. It is made with love and reverence for our favorites of these genres:
In our visual design we will be challenging ourselves to render the world that our protagonist has manufactured for himself and his guests. This is an important element with metaphorical relevance to the story; the challenge is to find a balance between the real, the surreal, and the artificial. We will be crafting our color palettes, picking lenses, and utilizing filmic tools with this in mind.
Part of what makes many great comedies so enduring is grounding in a social thesis. Ambrosia! is built on the realities of being an independent entrepreneur in this day and age. Finding one's place, actualizing a vision, and then sustaining that world is a monumentally difficult process. Our society claims to value ambition, individuality, and self-sustenance, but actual risk-taking is not generally rewarded. Corporate control is reaching ever new heights and the chances for success as a startup continually diminish. And if one clears these initial hurdles they still face virtual comparison via social media. It's a frustrating, unreasonable reality. But nothing makes for comedy quite like frustration and unreasonableness.
Proceeds from this Seed & Spark campaign go directly toward shooting the film. Ambrosia! was originally slated to shoot in sping 2020, but of course had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This production is a partnership between Butter Chicken Pictures and Mountain Craft Productions - we at Butter Chicken Pictures do not make our primary incomes from media production and as such have had all shooting projects on hold for the last year. Our partners at Mountain Craft, however, are production professionals and have had to adapt their process to accommodate clients and perform shoots. They have done this successfully, prioritizing safety, and we will all be following their lead and expertise on this front. This project has a small cast and crew, which works in our benefit, and we are lucky to be making this film in West Virginia where we are ahead of the curve on vaccine rollout and falling spread. But we don't plan to ease up on safety just becuse of some positive signs. We have all been conscious of doing our part to fight this virus over the past year, and we bring that same mentality into this stage of production.
Art like Ambrosia! is needed after the last year we have collectively experienced. The film has broad comedic appeal, particularly to fans of slapstick and classic Hollywood comedies, and provides an escapist outlet. But it also has sophistication between the lines for viewers looking to observe dynamics between different types of people in close proximity. Upon completion we will be submitting to festivals and and already have interest in theatrical screenings from multiple WV-based indie theaters and a multiplex chain whose corporate HQ is in WV.
Ingrained in the experience of young Appalachians is the standard that future success will be measured almost exclusively on whether or not we left our home town/region. Those who left are successful; those who stayed are not. Of course in reality this is farcical. These mentalities have implications for those of us who have stayed near home and those who have emigrated. How do those who stayed validate ourselves? Are jobs actually easier to find everywhere but here? What if one leaves and still (inevitably) faces hardship? And what if for whatever reason an Appalachian decides to return home? There are a lot of complex psychological and sociological issues wrapped up in these questions (for an exploration of the topic we recommend the fantastic documentary Hillbilly by Sally Rubin and Ashley York: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8218940/). But the bottom line is that the impact on the identity of Appalachians is immense. Our film's team members have all been champions not only of the arts, but simply reminding ourselves, colleagues, friends, and neighbors in West Virginia that their experiences are as real, deep, and important as people anywhere.
As previously stated, the Ambrosia! project is a collaboration between Butter Chicken Pictures and Mountain Craft Productions.
Butter Chicken Pictures was founded by David Gravely and Shane Pierce in 2014 with the creation of the short film Long Road, which follows a 20-something unraveling an existential mystery sparked by seeing a nondescript obituary in his name.
From there the Butter Chicken team has completed numerous other short films, community documentary projects, and web-series endeavors. In 2016 Saja Montague joined our team to produce our debut feature film It's Gonna be a Punk Rock Summer, which was awarded "Best Narrative Feature" at the 2018 WV FILMmakers Festival.
Across our team we are involved in a variety of community endeavors promoting the arts and life in Southern WV including managing The Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre, co-creating the BEX Arts Week, teaching music, performing in and supporting our local music scene, and sitting on multiple local boards.
Mountain Craft Productions is a full-service video production company and boutique agency headquartered in Fairmont, West Virginia. After six years of operation, Mountain Craft Productions (MCP) remains a small, four person team with offices in Fairmont and Charleston. In spite of their size, MCP has produced large-scale commercial campaigns for municipalities across the state and for clients such as The West Virginia Lottery, The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Cabell-Huntington Hospital, The West Virginia Community Development Hub, Mountaineer Food Bank, United Way of Marion and Taylor Counties, Fairmont State University, The West Virginia Municipal League, and countless others. We’ve also facilitated production needs for Walmart, Vox Media, PBS, and ExxonMobil, with work taking us outside our borders to Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina. We have won many awards for our efforts to promote the progress of the Appalachian region— winning numerous ADDY and TELLY awards for our work.
"From day one when we sat down to define our business we knew that Appalachian values were going to be a core part of our company culture. We hail from the only state that can claim every county as part of the Appalachian region, so we have always been proud to refer to ourselves as “Appalachians” and to demonstrate values such as grit, determination, and integrity. Additionally, over the last two years we’ve found ourselves moving further into the world of nonprofits, community development, and municipalities— all of which have lead to great storytelling. Suddenly, we’ve found ourselves faced with regular opportunities to capture and share positive stories that uplift West Virginia and the great people in it — in the face of what can sometimes feel like a barrage of negative media.
It feels like a natural fit, then, for us to collaborate with Butter Chicken Pictures to tell this hilarious, unique, and Appalachian stereotype-defying story."
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About This Team
Shane Pierce --
Shane is the manager of indie playhouse and movie theater The Raleigh, situated in the heart of downtown Beckley, WV, and along with David Gravely is co-founder of Butter Chicken Pictures. The two have written and performed music together since high school and created their first short film Long Road in 2014. In the time since, the Butter Chicken Team has produced numerous shorts, two on-going webseries, and a feature film called It's Gonna Be a Punk Rock Summer. Across these projects their work has been screened at festivals internationally, and ...Punk Rock Summer was awarded "Best Narrative Feature" at the 2018 WV FILMmakers Festival.
As a photographer, filmmaker, curator, and community activist Shane has been increasingly active in trying to support the city of Beckley as best he can. He is a board member for multiple organizations including the Downtown Beckley Business Association and Beckley Art Center as well as a supporter of and volunterr for the Raleigh County Prevention Coalition (battling opioid and other addictions). Through his event organizing and filmmaking there is a constant thread of building community cohesion and empathy. In 2019 Shane was one of the co-founders of the BEX Arts Week which over a 10 day schedule offered more than 40 unique events and included nearly 250 collaborators and partners across southern West Virginia and beyond. Shane shares his love of and expertise in Asian film as a yearly panelist and moderator on the Silk Road Track at Dragon Con in Atlanta, GA. Some of the panels he has co-organized include (but are not limited to) Asian Film through the Western Lens, Horrific Imagery in Asian Cinema, Influence of Shaw Studios, Learning from Korean Horror, and Asian Film Essentials.
Shane graduated with a dual B.A. in Sociology and Philosophy from Concord University in 2012. He is currently a Master's of Sociology candidate at Marshall University, though he still lives and works in Beckley.
David Gravely --
Co-writer and director of Butter Chicken Pictures short films: Long Road, Poor Dead Ronley, Kingdom Animalia, and Zeckley U.S.A.
Feature Film: It's Gonna Be a Punk Rock Summer
Dave has taught guitar locally for nearly a decade now and has released numerous albums with his band Heavy-Set Paw-Paws.
Saja Montague --
Producer, Assistant Director, Set Photographer
Saja is a photographer, community arts organizer, film-maker and creator. She attended Virginia Intermont College, & graduated from Emory & Henry College with a BFA in Fine Arts, with concentration in photography. Through the years she has hosted/created multiple photography exhibits in Beckley. She has co-written, produced and photographed multiple short films, a feature length film and several short-documentaries. She finds great importance in supporting her community and is on a constant journey of finding the best possible ways to foster the arts within it. Whether it is capturing regional character by photographing strangers, or creating short films solely based and inspired by Appalachia and its peoples: Appalachia is the guiding light within all of her creative work.
She has been photographing professionally since 2013 including portraits, set photography, a wide range of event photography, and documentary photography.
Justin Litton --
Director of Photography
Justin is the co-owner and Director of Mountain Craft Productions, a full-service film production company and boutique agency located in Fairmont, WV. Justin’s scriptwriting, cinematography, editing, and color expertise are on constant display within Mountain Craft’s expansive body of commercial and narrative work.
Justin was the first WVFF “Impact Award” winner in 2016, has won numerous ADDY and TELLY awards for his commercial work across West Virginia, and was the director of photography for a Royal Television Society Award and Student Academy Award winning foreign language short film, “Border Patrol,” in 2014. His work has been seen at festivals in dozens of countries across the globe.
Justin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in communications from West Virginia State University and a Master’s Degree in filmmaking from Leeds Beckett University, is a trained Digital Imaging Technician, and holds two Apple certifications in video editing.
Ben Berry --
Ben Berry is the Founder and Creative Director of Mountain Craft Productions. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in digital cinematography from Full Sail University and was named Fairmont’s 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year. Ben started Mountain Craft Productions six years ago in Fairmont with the mission of uplifting the local community, businesses, and people. Mountain Craft Productions’ work continues to push forward a positive narrative for West Virginia.
Since founding the company, Ben has settled into his role of business and relationship development. Under his direction, the company has been awarded several ADDY awards and most recently a Silver TELLY for their work on the Leadership WV “Choose WV” campaign. Last year, Ben was awarded the Impact Filmmaker of the year award which is “given to the individual whose most recent work or contributions has had utmost effects on the West Virginia film industry, or simply upon the culture of film and media creation within the state.” Mountain Craft Productions will continue pursuing opportunities to tell positive stories about great people, places, and things in WV and none of this would be happening without Ben’s leadership.
Ann Worley --
Ann Worley is a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in Theater. She has always been passionate about the arts and is excited to learn about the film industry and looks forward to fulfilling her role as Executive Producer. While living in Florida, she was highly active in community theater, not only performing, directing, and teaching, but writing Murder Mysteries, as well as owning and operating, Showtime Productions which supplied talent and resources to help with local entertainment needs. Ann is eager to help create entertaining and enlightening presentations, promoting the arts in the local community, and having fun as well!