Mission StatementWe want to bring this surreal & socially relevant pandemic era film to life. The world needs to see the story of Eugene, who in a single day at school must endure abuse from his classmates, while protecting his beloved sculpture from their vandalism. Eugene teaches us just how powerful love can be.
About The Project
Hi! We're Kara and Jeremy Choate, a husband and wife photo & video team creating together for over a decade now behind Choate House. Making movies was our next big dream, so Blood Relative Films was born. While going through the process of producing our first full feature film Tenkiller, we learned so much about what it takes to make a movie from pre-production to how to get a distribution deal.
As indie filmmakers, it's incredibly challenging at times but the drive to make the next one is strong. We've found making movies is addicting. The experience isn't like anything else. Hear more about our "plunge" into movie making and hints about this very project, The Awkward Stage, by watching the interview we did with KFOR's "Is This a Great State or What!" by Galen Culver.
As we've worked hard to polish and prepare Tenkiller for the world to see, Jeremy has continued to write a variety of exciting screenplays we'll plan to produce through Blood Relative Films. As we release our first film to streaming platforms and continue to practice our movie making skills, we believe opportunities to expand our team will grow.
About The Project
The story behind this new project was really driven by the excitement to make another film soon within our reach. We wanted something interesting, almost feeling experimental and surreal at times, with a chance to go off creatively highlighting anything and everything that naturally bubbled up on set. With an interest to exploit a culture relevant to kids, the pandemic and society in general, this project was a chance for us to harness our skills, move freely, innately and let the story organically build based on our instincts.
The Awkward Stage takes place during the throes of the COVID 19 outbreak, and a short lived TikTok sensation, called devious licks, when middle school students posted videos of themselves stealing things from or vandalizing their schools. It is the story of Eugene and a single disturbing day at school, when he must weather a barrage of abuse and trauma brought on by his classmates, all while protecting a sculpture he has become infatuated with from their vandalism. Eugene teaches us the power of love and just how awkward it can be.
Like Tenkiller, our subjects in The Awkward Stage are not traditionally trained actors. We honestly love what happens casting 'real people' as subjects. Inspired by the Italian neorealism movement in a film like Bicycle Thieves, we felt confident in the space of making everyday people feel overly comfortable in front of the camera. We took this approach again, paired with a bit of influence from surrealist cinema.
The moments our cast gave us ended up feeling overwhelmingly authentic. The main character, Eugene, played by Harrison Higdon was unbelievable. We felt like we were watching a future Oscar award winning actor bloom right in front of our eyes. Higdon reminds us of a young Nicolas Cage with his uninhibited freedom to become a character. Eugene in The Awkward Stage is sure to both win and break hearts.
The backdrop for this film takes place in an abandoned middle school campus built in 1940 in Harrah, OK, where Kara actually went to school. Each space deteriorated and vandalized visually adds to the tone of surrealism, as kids would never in real life be allowed to sit in a classroom with such decay and destruction.
About halfway through filming, our production sound man, James Russell, expressed he was thrilled about what we were getting. He went on to share that it was falling somewhere in between Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive and felt like a fever dream. Heck yeah!
Cast of Musical Celebrities
While the majority of the cast are teenagers, we're crazy excited to have the opportunity to feature musical celebrities in this film. The freakishly talented lead singer Raygun Busch of Chat Pile joins us for his second appearance in a Blood Relative feature being cast as a lead character that results in a surprising plot twist. Meanwhile his band, Chat Pile, is skyrocketing as "Best New Music" in an article by Pitchfork, as their new album God's Country dropped on July 29th through The Flenser. We couldn't be more proud of our friends. To see their cult following expand overnight to the masses is much deserved. Their music surpasses the hype.
We grew up listening to another mesmerizing artist, Tyson Meade, who would play live shows when we were kids in college. We were always quite obsessed with his talent. We weren't the only ones. In the book Road to Nirvana, Meade's band was credited to influence the music of Nirvana's front man, Kurt Cobain. In The Awkward Stage, Tyson plays the character of a PE teacher who leads his middle school class in an aerobic workout. It's as good as it sounds.
Lastly, there's been a cult following for years with Norman, OK's native Mike Hosty. Though featured on Jimmy Kimmel and The Tonight Show, Hosty is said to have always wanted to avoid the limelight. One super fan, however, aims to change that with his highly reviewed documentary about Hosty that's spreading his talent worldwide. In our story, you'll wish you'd had a history teacher like Hosty. It has something to do with a wild pack of dogs!
We're thrilled prolific Oklahoma-based filmmaker Mickey Reece has joined the cast of The Awkward Stage, as Mr. Cobb, Harrah Middle School's washed up English teacher. Hot off the heels of its World Premiere in Montreal at Fantasia Festival, Mickey Reece's absurdist country music comedy Country Gold has satisfied top critics. Most recently Variety Magazine exclusively revealed that Reece will join forces with “It Follows” producer David Kaplan on his next feature “The Cool Tenor.”
Once we determined what middle school campus was perfect, we met with the Superintendent and the opportunity was granted. Although we'd discussed and planned for having three months of pre-production with time to raise a budget, we heard word a few days later that an abatement process was being unexpectedly moved up to begin the following week. The campus was going to be demolished. This came as a shock and proceeded to be an unsettling few days as we knew this was the perfect backdrop for this story.
Luckily, the Superintendent kindly won us a couple of weeks for pre-production and one week to film. The Awkward Stage then had to go up even more quickly without a budget. We worked like maniacs every single minute of the day/night to get ready, secured our production sound artist for our dates and built a talented cast and crew. Our family & friends were very generous to donate their time on set to help support this production.
Due to the speed in which we had to move and film before losing the campus as the set, we are now working to raise funds to compensate our cast & crew, cover camera and equipment rentals, pay for production sound and post sound design, license music, cover insurance, help with film festival submission fees, compensate the key art designer for illustrations/graphics and support additional costs needed for deliverables with a distribution deal.
Too, we realize a critical piece for independent filmmakers is to cultivate a direct and strong connection with their audience. Crowdfunding has become a powerful element to do just that. We believe in the opportunity to grow our community of supporters like you beyond just one film, expanding into an entire career of filmmaking together.
This is how your support for The Awkward Stage will be used to make this full feature film!
- Cast & Crew Pay: Almost half of our budget will be going to compensate the cast and crew. This includes our camera team, main cast, sound department, wardrobe, line producer, etc.
- Equipment & Post Production: The cinematic quality and solid sound design will be critical to make this movie reach its highest potential. These funds will be important to do just that.
- Music & Art Design: The musical talents and art design behind this film are incredible and will be a thread throughout to lock in the film's tone and heighten the viewer's experience.
- Insurance & Festival Submissions: 2% will be covering our production insurance costs. Another 2% will be used to begin submitting to film festivals.
- Stretch Goal: If we hit our goal of $20,000, another $5,000 will help cover the cost of editing and color grading the film, plus deliverables for distribution (i.e. copyrights, closed captioning, title report, etc).
Ways To Support
If you've made it this far and think this project sounds like the type of film you'd like to be involved with, we'd love your support!
Click the blue "Make a Pledge" button to kindly gift us a monetary contribution! We've got some cool incentives, so please check 'em out.
Help us spread the word about our film by sharing our Campaign Page, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook page with your online communities. We are @theawkwardstagemovie (IG) The Awkward Stage (Facebook) & @TAwkwardSMovie (Twitter)
Follow our socials and like our Campaign Page to help broaden our network. Did you know we unlock some extra cool features if we get 250 likes on Seed&Spark?!
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Help support indie filmmakers Kara & Jeremy Choate @bloodrelativefilms by pledging or following their film @theawkwardstagemovie - Join them on @seedandspark - https://seedandspark.com/fund/the-awkward-stage!
We're looking forward to growing the family at Blood Relative Films, while opening up the community of support for the making of our newest movie. Check out all of the opportunities to make The Awkward Stage a reality through our INCENTIVES and PLEDGING! Thank you so much for your time. We'll hope to see you at the premiere!
Thank you so much!
Kara and Jeremy Choate
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
Our team was put together with much consideration for harmony and efficiency on set. Going into our first film, Tenkiller, and The Awkward Stage, we knew with a small team the members would be wearing a lot of hats. We sought after teammates with talent and equally positive attitudes to help out with any task at hand. This team was incredible, and we feel very proud of the efforts and upbeat spirits everyone brought on the daily.
The value of good sound for any movie is critical, as it can taint or elevate a film. The process begins with carefully recording sound files on set and carries over into a studio setting where the sound design is tediously realized. James Russell, who's best known for his work in the A24 film Minari, kindly came on with us to design post sound for Tenkiller. We are thrilled to have James join us again, this time for the The Awkward Stage. We're honored he'll be handling both production sound and the post sound design for this film.
Additionally, two insanely talented artists in their own right, were gracious enough to join this film crew. Dustin Oswald, a.k.a. Dorshak Blok, a.k.a Bombs Away Art, who's well known especially in The Paseo Arts District for his wicked art gallery, illustrations, prints & apparel. When we saw his work for the first time one year ago, we immediately started dreaming his line-art-driven sick work would hopefully one day find its way into one of our films. We're happy to share Dustin is behind all artwork, illustrations and graphics in The Awkward Stage.
Another artist we've known for years who joined our crew is Greer Inez. She is a visual artist + entrepreneur + activist + art collector + most recently acting in Tenkiller. For Greer, creativity is a portal for expansion + a very important part of emotional + physical + intellectual health [creating it + experiencing it.] We are proud to have collaborated with our dear friend for many years. Greer is both a cast member (playing the role of a math teacher) and crew as the BTS photographer for The Awkward Stage.
Another huge element making up our team is a variety of high impact teenagers with motivation not easily matched. From a sixteen year old who's already been working for years to build her talent as a SFX makeup artist, to another kid member who sees no limits despite his youth and is currently pursuing his own fashion line, we were surrounded by teenagers (including our own daughters) who are ambitious self-starters.
Every single teammate exceeded our expectations with their work ethic, good ideas and professionalism. We have the best film family and feel thankful for each and everyone of them. Xx
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