DOLDRUMS

Los Angeles, California | Film Short

Drama, War

Le Chau

1 Campaigns | California, United States

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This campaign raised $15,850 for pre-production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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DOLDRUMS is an urgent film that reminds us about kindness in the brutality of war in the world today. The film digs into emotional burdens, often personal and complicated, and inspires healing by facing the painful memories with understanding and acceptance.

About The Project

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Mission Statement

I grew up listening to my Granpa's stories, a soldier in the Vietnam War, about kindness and bravery in war. I understand the impact of traumatic memories not only on veterans but also on everyone. This film is a means for me to create empathy and encourage people to heal from the traumatic past.

The Story

DOLDRUMS is a UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television thesis film.

A unique combination between Virtual Production - creating the Vietnam Tropical Forest in 1972 using Unreal Engine to shoot the war in an LED Volume AND shooting the rest of the film with the classic 35mm film camera in a real location.

Proud to be Bruins!

Only with acceptance can there be recovery. But to accept, first, understand.

Doldrums is a thesis short film for an undergraduate student in Narrative Directing Concentration, produced under the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television supervisor. The film is written, produced, and directed by Le Chau. Even though Le Chau is an undergrad, she is a non-traditional student who has spent ten years working as an independent filmmaker in the industry. She is also serving in the US Army California National Guard as a Sergeant. 

Le Chau is in collaboration with an experienced cinematographer Marshall Victory, and Production Designer Juliana Newman, along with Byron Qiao, Virtual Production Producer and owner of Beyond Cinema Productions, to make Doldrums a reality.

The film carries a nostalgic feel inspired by the best post-Vietnam war films after 1975. Following an aging Vietnam veteran who cannot forgive himself for what happened in the war, the film focuses on the possibility of healing by facing the dramatic past with understanding and acceptance.

James Hunter, an aging Vietnam veteran in his 70s, humdrum existence, is haunted by memory decades after the war. Hunter’s dream opens a world of vivid memory – Captain Hunter in Viet Nam in 1972, who is badly wounded and found by a Viet Cong medic, Lan. He relives the day Lan died over and over again, drowning himself in grief and pain. The story shifts when his battle buddy's ghost visits him. 

As humans, we don't get to change dramatically by just one conversation, but we can get enlightened and work toward being a bit better every day. 

In the end, would Hunter have the courage to forgive himself and set him free from
the burden of war?

DOLDRUMS is a period war drama inspired by my grandpa's stories about his time in the Vietnam war and my own experience as a soldier serving in the US military.

While the current historical context is different from my grandpa's in the 1970s, the underlying themes of the ongoing fight, martial law, and freedom from the traumatic burden caused by war are still at the core of the experience of ongoing armed conflicts and wars in the world today. 

Now more than ever, it’s important to tell stories about kindness in the brutality of war to people who endure the impact of war, regardless of their ethnicity or what sides of the war they belong to, to cultivate healing, understanding, and more importantly, HOPE.

As a person who grew up in a blue-collar family in Viet Nam, cinema was an escape from a harsh childhood to a wonderland. It allowed me to empathize with precious human emotions through stories. Decades later, I find that cinema still holds the same value to me as it did in my childhood.

I’m gathering the knowledge and experience in the last ten years of making films to create DOLDRUMS, my most personal project so far, to continue creating these values for other people.

I have used my experiences as a Vietnamese woman but also as a soldier to render a portrait of the small moments of humanity that take place in a war zone and how they can be just as potent and impactful as the trauma experienced there.

This film is also a way for me to express my appreciation to all veterans, who served their country with selfless service and still fight every day to live free from the traumatic impact of war. My actor, Ira, is about to turn 70. His name was on the list to get drafted to Vietnam in the 60s. Soon, we won't have much of them around anymore. 

DOLDRUMS is an urgent film that is as relevant today as ever, and no one can tell it but us. 

MAKE A PLEDGE today to help bring DOLDRUMS to life!

"Hunter, the Captain"

Early 30s. Captain in Viet Nam war
Calm, cold, and battle-hardened

Hunter is an Anthropologist before getting drafted to Nam. He can speak English and Vietnamese. 
Wounded in an ambush and saved by a Viet Cong medic, Lan. 
 War's view: "if you don't kill them, they will kill you. Don't take it personally." 

"Lan, the Medic"

Early 20s, Viet Cong Medic
Wholesome and determine

Her strength lies underneath a soft look. She becomes a medic after losing her father to a wound infection caused by fighting in combat.
War's view: "We should try to save others, not to kill. War shouldn't change that." 

"Hunter, the Veteran"

Mid-70s, dull and tired. 
Strength forgotten. 

Old Hunter is haunted by war memories from decades ago. He holds grief and guilt for Lan,
the Viet Cong medic who saved him. 
Present's view:"Memory overcomes you on a lot of levels. You just don't know what to do."

The film's aesthetic plays with the blurry line between the past and present by making the contact between our hero and the ghosts seem normal and natural, and by merging his present time with his memories 40 years ago through a dream.

To express the distinct feeling between the Past and the Present with the language of cinema,

DOLDRUMS will be shot

DIGITALLY in the LED Volumes: the Virtual Production will create the best look of Vietnam Tropical Forest shoot with an Alexa Mini provided by the Panavision NFP Grant,

and

on FILM in a Real Location, using 3 Perf 35mm Panavision Panaflex Gold II, which is also provided by the Panavision NFP Grant. 

THE PAST STORY

Taking place in Trang Bang, Vietnam, in 1972, the past story will be vividly portrayed, with high contrast colors and low-key lighting to emphasize its power over Hunter's mind. 

THE PRESENT STORY 

The present story will be in the opposite – low contrast, high-key lighting, soft greyish mid-tone with shallow depth of field to intimate Hunter’s indifferences for his current life.

We set our minimum goal at $18,750 to get through the essentials of the production. To help us have a smooth production with more room to breathe, our STRETCH GOAL is $30,000+!

Accolades and Praise from Professional Readers

The Jack Nicholson screenwriting prize Fall 2022 at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television

The Panavision New Filmmaker Program Equipment grant. 

Advance to the 2nd round of the Screencraft film fund 2022.

Top 31% of discoverable projects on Coverfly 

Since January 2022, we have applied Doldrums screenplay to a handful of trusted screenplay competitions and film funds for exposure opportunities, craft development, and financial support. The two biggest awards we got so far included The Jack Nicholson screenwriting prize Fall 2022 at UCLA and The Panavision New Filmmaker Program Equipment grant. Because of the film's strong concept, we got an exception of getting two packages: the Alexa Mini, and the 3 Perf 35mm Panavision Panaflex Gold II to shoot Doldrums digitally and on 35mm film.

Having the newest technology of Virtual LED Volumes and the classic technology of 35mm film in ONE SHORT FILM is magnificent! 

Help make DOLDRUMS a reality! MAKE A PLEDGE today and be a part of our story. 

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Join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DOLDRUMSthefilm and Hashtag #doldrumsthefilm

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Every single contribution, no matter how big or small, is so important to us and sincerely appreciated.

That said, we know not everyone has the resources to support the film financially. Please consider sharing our project with your friends and family and help us get the word out. Especially Click the FOLLOW button on this page. If we gain 250, 500, or 1000 followers here, SeedandSpark will enable thousands of dollars in quarterly perks to help support DOLDRUMS to the Distribution stage.

Feel free to copy and paste the message below!

Love movies, Unreal Engine, and 35mm? Help @lechaucreative make her cool movie @doldrumsthefilm a reality. Join them on @seedandspark www.seedandspark.com/fund/doldrums

#doldrumsthefilm

It takes a village, especially at the indie level, and words cannot describe how incredibly
grateful we are already for your support.

Wishlist

Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Glorious Catering

Costs $1,000

Who can work on an empty stomach?

Film Crew

Costs $4,600

Help us hire an Unreal Artist and experienced crew!

Grip and Electric

Costs $2,000

We have an awesome camera package grant! G&E equipment will light the set to shoot the film!

Location

Costs $6,000

the Virtual LED Volume and an old house!

Casting

Costs $1,200

Good performance is everything. We are going SAG to open our chance to get incredible actors.

Production Design

Costs $1,100

Help us to create awesome Forest foreground in the Volume

MUA

Costs $900

Make our beautiful cast look 1970s-soldiers-ready.

Props

Costs $900

Combat gears, weapons, uniform, etc. A period piece is a real research assignment!

Sounds and Music

Costs $1,050

Sounds and Music decide 50% of the success of the film!

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

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