The Invaders

Los Angeles, California | Film Short

Horror, Western

Erin L Doyle

2 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $31,605 for post-production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

272 supporters | followers

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After breaking from 1852's last wagon train to California, a pregnant woman and her husband's family travel toward a supernatural fate as the patriarch descends into madness. Hitting our stretch goals will give us a major glow up and allow us to submit to festivals and pitch the feature to studios!

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

We're using horror as a tool to explore the dark undercurrent of American history from a female-driven perspective. A majority of our core team is female-identifying, and we hired an enrolled Native designer to consult and ensure that all Native elements are portrayed with accuracy and sensitivity.

The Story

A pregnant pioneer woman and her husband's family meet a supernatural fate after breaking from their wagon train to California and ignoring a series of ominous dreams.

This is the premise for our proof of concept. More than a stand-alone Western Horror short- it's a vehicle to make the feature film. We couldn't wait to get the ball rolling so we funded production ourselves, and need your support to get us through post production- where we'll take the gorgeous images you see here and in the pitch video and make them even better with color, VFX, original music, and sound design.

With your help, The Mother won't just scream- she'll make a terrifying sound "like howling wind, a shrieking mountain lion, and the felling of an ancient tree." 

Once the film is finished we will submit to festivals, and use it to pitch the feature to financiers and studios before releasing it online. 

We open on a pioneer campsite in the Rockies.

As we push in toward the tent, we flash to several dream-like images of The Mother, a protector of Native people and the land, culminating in a deafening scream.

Inside the tent, pregnant pioneer Rose Walters awakens with a gasp to discover that her daughter Minnie has been haunted by the same dream. Minnie warns, "we shouldn't be here." Rose lies awake, terrified, and then... pum pum pum pum. She can do nothing but listen as her nightmare comes to life.

The Mother, inspired by Mother Earth, was designed in collaboration with Native artist Leah Mata Fragua. As both the monster and the hero in the film, we discussed at length how this Goddess would dress for war. Rather than align her with a specific tribe, we grounded her look- from her futuristic warpaint to her prairie-inspired dress- in Indigenous Futurism, a nod to her ability to stand for a better future for Native people. 

We landed on ram horns for The Mother's headpiece as they span Indigenous cultures across the globe. But more than that- Christianity associates ram horns with evil.

By having The Mother wear ram horns, she is reclaiming this symbol and its power... and appearing all the more terrifying to our pioneer family.

"I've been writing feminist historical horror since 7th grade... before I had the vocabulary to understand what I was writing. And I'm passionate about Westerns, but I'm interested in the stories that haven't been told. The West was the most diverse place in American history, but you wouldn't know it from watching most of Hollywood's great Westerns. I’m fascinated by its brutal reality, and I’ve spent the past number of years researching what it was actually like.

In summer 2019, I was writing a female-driven Western when a shooter killed 23 people at an El Paso Walmart, declaring his attack a response to “the Hispanic invasion” at the border. I decided that instead of just bringing a woman’s perspective to a Western, I’d explore the uncomfortable truth at America’s roots. Thus, The Invaders is more than a horror film, and more than a western: it’s an accountability fantasy for myself and every other child weaned on Laura Ingles Wilder and the notion of Manifest Destiny."

-Writer/Director Erin Doyle Cooper

In the 19th Century the West loomed large in the minds of White Americans: an untamed land filled with savagery, monsters, and possibility. This is the backdrop for The Invaders. The West is a character in itself, the harsh reality of its landscape is ever-present from the opening frame.

The Tone is emphasized by the visual style, taking cues from 19th century paintings by Albert Bierstadt to find the horror that lurks behind the rosy images we saw in our textbooks. 

The short was shot in a 1:66:1 aspect ratio to be both wide and slightly claustrophobic. We used an Alexa Mini LF with Canon K35 lenses, and plan to dirty up the final images in post before handing them off to VFX.

Here's a peek at some of our team's credits. 

Making a historically accurate period piece on a short film budget is no easy task.

Part of how we did it is by writing a piece that relies on the magic of post production. To bring out the horror elements, this film requires heavy sound design and some VFX. But post production requires many moving pieces- as does distribution. We are now working toward stretch goals to make this film even better!

Wishlist

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

Original score composition, recording, mixing

Costs $2,000

Creating and recording a haunting score for the film.

Sound Mixing

Costs $3,000

Foley, horror sound design, and mixing of the final film.

VFX

Costs $4,000

Visual Effects will escalate the horror imagery across the film. Plus titles and animation.

Color Correction

Costs $2,000

You saw some footage in the pitch video. It will look even more amazing once our colorist is done.

Editing

Costs $2,000

It's simple: great films are made in the edit, and we have one of the best editors working in tv.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Festivals & Promotion

Costs $4,000

Covers the cost of festival submissions, collateral, travel, screeners, and hiring a publicist.

Marketing

Costs $3,000

Everything from poster design to pitch packages to the perks and fees from this campaign.

About This Team

We've assembled a spectactular team of working entertainment professionals to bring The Invaders to life.

Erin Doyle Cooper is an award winning filmmaker and creative director whose career has spanned indie film, experiential production design, and advertising. She made her first short film Vlog in 2009, and that same year, recorded an EP of indie rock for kids to compliment her puppet-musical-pilot Princess Elleanora and the Muddy Sneakers. As a Creative Director, she’s overseen award-winning work for brands including MasterCard, Budweiser, and Pepsi, where she led creative for the promotion of Lady Gaga’s Halftime Show and the 2018 Super Bowl spot starring Cindy Crawford. She’s also directed spots for major brands including Midol and Nature Made.
 
As a filmmaker, Erin focuses on stories that challenge people’s ingrained perceptions, and loves using genre as a tool. Her most recent film Believe Her, premiered at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, where it won Best Global Short: Narrative. She spent quarantine developing several feature scripts, and since production reopened, has produced a short called Big Sur for a fellow LAMDA alum, and wrote/produced/directed a short called True Love Waits based on her experience growing up in Purity Culture. Erin holds a BFA in Acting from SUNY Buffalo, a post-graduate certificate from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA), and studied improv and sketch at UCB. She lives in LA, where she recently completed the Women in Film Mentoring Program as a multi-hyphenate, with mentors Rose Catherine Pickney, Melissa Darmon, and Ramaa Mosley.

Allison Tolman is a Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actress who successfully avoided actually making a living in the field until she was in her early thirties. Before then, Tolman played a veterinary receptionist, personal assistant, children’s theatre teacher, vocal coach, phone sales associate, client services representative, and dog walker – never on film, but in her actual life in order to pay her rent. However, in the fall of 2013 she landed a seminal role in FX’s Fargo and quit her last day job. Her performance as Molly Solverson put her on the map and garnered her a Critic’s Choice Award. 

Born in Houston, Texas, Allison holds a BFA in theatrical performance from Baylor University. After graduation, she moved to Dallas where she helped found and foster the independent ensemble-based non-profit Second Thought Theatre, while also learning that being an adult is super hard. In 2009, she relocated to Chicago and was accepted into Second City's Conservatory Training Program. She went on to write and perform comedy in some of Chicago’s finest dive bars before relocating to California in 2014. There she continues to act, write, and lie to herself about one day doing the nine mile hike in her area where you supposedly get to see a waterfall. Other notable roles include Natalie in The Facts of Life, Live!, Mary Pat in Good Girls, Alma in Why Women Kill, and Seemingly Normal Woman that time she met Katey Sagal at a party. She currently lives in Hollywood with a toothless cat named Bud who enjoys lying on wrapping paper and sneezing directly into her face.

Demi Waldron is a cinematographer based in NYC who specializes in narrative and documentary work. She is particularly drawn to stories that explore the nuance and candor of everyday life. Growing up as a queer kid in the rural south, Demi turned to fine art and photography to dream of something bigger — something that still shows up in her work today. 

Her short documentary “CINEMATOGRAPHER,” which examines the role of women behind the camera, was awarded a Vimeo Staff Pick in 2019 and received critical success. Films lensed by Demi have played at Outfest LA, Cannes Lions, Florida Film Festival, Savannah Film Festival, Athena Film Festival, Sarasota Film Festival, and more. 

Christy St. John just got murdered on NCIS: Los Angeles! She's also known for playing Allie VanLandingham in HBO’s The Sex Lives of College Girls, girl-next-door Susie in The Christmas Chronicles 2 starring Kurt Russell, scientist Elle in Twitch’s Emmy award winning Artificial, ditzy waitress Karen in Bounce TV’s In The Cut, and type-A Chelsea in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Interview, which she also co-wrote. She trained at Carnegie Mellon University and currently teaches branding for actors at Robert D’Avanzo Studios. www.christystjohn.com

After shooting a string of great commercials including spots and print campaigns for Target and eBay, Lorelei Olivia Mote jumped right into the TV/Film world without missing a beat. Her most recent theatrical credits include a great role in a highly anticipated upcoming Amazon Original Series, a co-star on a popular FX drama, and an awesome leading role in a kids' adventure movie called Riddle Of Fire, all set to release later this year. If you don’t recognize her yet, you definitely will soon.

Will is an actor, improvisor, writer, and horror film fanatic. Major credits include Modern Love opposite Olivia Cooke, The Last OG opposite Tiffany Haddish, and Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It. He studied improv at UCB for far too many years, and performed with the likes of Will Hines, Jordan Klepper, and Rebecca Drysdale. He has a BA in Theatre from Mississippi State, and has taken acting classes with Terry Schreiber and Annie Grindlay. He currently lives in LA with his wife and Norwich Terrier, Mimsy.

Simon Haycock is a British-Canadian actor, voice artist, producer and graduate of Drama Centre London. Recent film credits include 'Ayar' with Emmy award winning director Floyd Russ which premiered at SXSW, and the Lifetime thriller 'Obsessed with the Babysitter'. His London theatre credits include Troilus & Cressida, Coriolanus, and Inigo. He is currently the voice of BBC America, and his voice can be heard on countless commercials for radio and TV, video games, documentaries, feature and short films around the globe. 

Jane hails from Upstate NY and moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA's MFA Acting program.  Since graduating, she has gravitated towards Casting and worked her way up to garnering jobs as a Casting Associate on major studio projects.  She dreams of one day opening her own office and loves giving actors opportunities. Jane would like to thank Erin Doyle Cooper for her friendship and for entrusting her with the task of casting this powerful piece. 

Jessica Rae Huber is a film and television composer who has written music for hundreds of episodes of television, feature films, production libraries, trailers, and podcasts. She is also frequently recruited to write additional music for other composers across many genres and types of media. Her work can be heard on shows such as The Walking Dead, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Outlander, and Black Sails.

Current Team

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