Bringing to Life Mythical Creatures
August 05, 2014
A new documentary follows artist Gary Baseman’s journey into his family’s past.
Mythical Creatures, currently in development, is a film exploring the secrets we keep, the stories we hold on to; the family histories we protect and pass down. This is the true story of the Basemans.
The documentary follows artist Gary Baseman’s journey to Ukraine. Along the way, he unearths stories about the war, and the secret history of his own parents. Part Pixar, part History Channel, Mythical Creatures (directed by David Charles) is the beautiful, surreal true story of an extraordinary family.
Download the BitTorrent Bundle, and unlock the journey: Gary Baseman’s sketchbook, art, and the first 18 minutes of the in-progress film.
Support Mythical Creatures on Kickstarter.
Words with David Charles: a journey into the world of Mythical Creatures.
BitTorrent: Mythical Creatures documents Gary Baseman’s journey to understand family, secrecy, and survival. What inspired this project?
David Charles: I really believe that the stories we should tell are the ones closest to our hearts. Gary Baseman and I have been writing partners for the past 3 years on a series of different projects. And about 2 years ago, after his father passed, he discovered in a rare book a heroic story about his dad during the Holocaust. This story forever changed Gary’s life and art. That story, combined with the loss of both his parents, gave him a purpose to keep their memories alive and share them with the world through his art.
I lost my mother exactly 10 years ago. She was my best friend and an extraordinary human being and the way I found I was able to cope with such a loss was by furthering her teachings, values, and memories through my actions. So as I mentioned above, the essence of this film is something that pulses at large in my aorta.
BitTorrent: Your approach to the documentary — to revealing the truth — is also rooted deeply in imagination: animation, art, and memory. Why was it important to tell the story in this way; across media?
Charles: It’s important because there is no content that brings these life-changing stories to younger generations. And the community of survivors is dying off. We needed something fresh and relevant to keep their memories alive. In October of last year we were selected to the Sundance New Frontier Story Lab. Ever since, this very personal journey shaped up to be something bigger and way more important than we had first imagined.
The film now uses Baseman’s father’s story as a jumping-off point to bring the values and the stories of the Holocaust to an entirely new generation – telling the truth through art, animation, and innovative storytelling platforms. The feature documentary of the project will be “the hub”, followed by several cross-media, educational, and real world ramifications.
BitTorrent: Were you specifically looking to challenge or take on some of the conventions of documentary filmmaking? Do you see the role of documentary changing?
Charles: The most important thing about this project is bringing the story and message to as many people as possible. The hybrid documentary approach seemed to be the most interesting way of doing it. Time will tell what conventions are challenged and change as we put this film together, but the role of a documentary has definitely evolved into being something that not only reveals the truth, but reveals it in a way that creates a long-lasting emotional connection with a mass audience; something that gives them the tools to further your story, and connect it with the rest of the world. That’s why a platform like Bittorrent is so crucial, because it allows you to expand on your story in every medium imagined.
BitTorrent: Mythical Creatures is a personal film, and in some ways, a DIY undertaking. There are a lot of tools out there to help independent filmmakers succeed — how do you navigate that landscape? What’s been your path to getting this produced and funded?
Charles: The real answer to that question is that there is no straight path. Every day, every meeting, every mention in the press, every Bundle downloaded is a step further along the way. It’s full of pleasant surprises, moments of radio silence, anxiety-ridden weeks and the amazing adrenaline that comes from seeing thousands of people believing in your project and sharing it, backing it, and celebrating it through crowdfunding.
BitTorrent: You’re less than two weeks away from closing your Kickstarter campaign. What is your goal for the film?
Charles: Our initial goal is $75k. This will enable us to shoot in Ukraine and finish the production phase of the film. We will then need additional funding for post-production and the animations. So hopefully the kickstarter community can help us stretch that goal. That would give us complete freedom to make the most meaningful film possible.
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