PushPush, BrandCinema and POPfilms Produce Sneak Preview for GRFX Series
Atlanta, GA, April 24, 2014 – PushPush has wrapped photography on a sneak preview, promotional pilot for its new episodic series GRFX (“graphics”). On April 6, 2014, PushPush and POPfilms in Atlanta, along with New York’s BrandCinema, ended five days of filming to result in a sneak preview pilot, a trailer and a promo for the full series. The project is completing its two-year development phase supported in part by an NEA New Media grant.
Over 200 people participated in the filming, which included in its background a live arts festival co-produced by PushPush. The new Snake Nation Arts Fest aims to be an annual staple of the Castleberry Hill Arts District.
GRFX is a live action drama that takes place inside Dresher’s, a small, global graphic novel/comics publishing company. Office interiors were shot at POPfilms’ studios in Atlanta (Finding Carter, Drumline 2). The exteriors and live arts festival were shot in the courtyard outside the famed Besharat Gallery in Atlanta’s historic Castleberry Hill.
For the filming, Key Illustrator Christoph Heuer created new iterations of Schnippi Dog, the company mascot, that line the walls of Dresher’s. The show will feature some animation amidst the a live action, and Animation Supervisor Byron Speight is assembling illustrators, animators, riggers and modelers from around the world. Actor/Comics Creator Chris Miskiewicz lent his skills to pilot, playing the role of Dresher’s illustrator “James.” Real-life illustrator Simon Fraser’s drawings can be seen throughout the Dresher’s offices as well.
In addition to these artists, the pilot features dancers, musicians,performers, visual artists and local galleries, representing a variety of artistic disciplines. The first full season of GRFX will highlight an increasing number of working artists to underscore the show’s central tension between creative and commercial demands.
GRFX is being developed in conjunction with Executive Producers Jennifer Warren and Nicholas Levis of BrandCinema, along with Executive Producer Alexander A. Motlagh, who’s been involved with the project since producing the PushPush-incubated Sundance darling, The Signal. Sub-Genre’s Brian Newman serves as Strategic Consulting Partner.Sunny Lee was Cinematographer, and William Wedig is the Director for the Pilot.
This summer, the producing partners will engage in a campaign for the production of season one: a “mini” season of 13, six-minute episodes BrandCinema is packaging the show for original, digital network distribution and numerous sponsorship opportunities. The first 13 episodes will also be developed as a feature film. The series is aimed at a season of long-form episodes for digital networks.
As a producer of live shows, PushPush has also woven immersive and participatory experiences into the project’s scope, and will submit a live transmedia experience of GRFX to the Sundance Frontier Lab this fall. Tim Habeger, Series Creator, has also been invited to submit the GRFX script to the new Sundance Episodic Story Lab this September. All of which will bolster efforts toward wide and diverse viewership and participation, locally and abroad.
GRFX follows the struggle between creativity and commercial demands at a small, global publishing company. Loosely based on artistic challenges within Atlanta’s underground arts incubator, PushPush Film & Theater (The Signal, Dailies Filmmakers), the series tells a modern and evolving story about the fight for artistic sustainability. The GRFX project will help advance the discussion.
“Just about everyone knows the story of balancing creative desires with paying the bills. It’s hard, and people feel passionate about it. So passionate they sometimes throw expensive equipment out the window. Ha. Truth be told, there are viable points to each side of the argument. PushPush has lived it, here and abroad. Myself, our team, our entire network – we all deal with it daily. And then you add family issues into the mix? It’s going to be fun to watch it unfold.” Says producer Nicholas Levis.
Season one begins the death of Grandpa Dresher and follows a power-grab between his grandson heirs: Cale, a young businessman at heart, concerned more with commerce, and Paul, the idealist, focused on the integrity of art more than adjusting to the fiscal demands of a modern company. Moments of animation that add perspective will help drive the arc of the drama.
While the sneak preview pilot will introduce the story and build interest in the concept, the full series will dive deep into the chaotic world of Dresher’s, as one family-owned, international paper-and-ink publishing company faces obsolescence and an arduous transition into the 21st century.
Atlanta, GA, December 6, 2013 – As part of their mission and 16-year history of providing distinctive opportunities to film and theater artists, PushPush is announcing several project updates to their upcoming film series project, GRFX. The series is being developed for film, T.V. and online platforms, and also for immersive experiences. GRFX follows the artistic struggle within a small, global publishing company, and is loosely based on the non-profit’s own artistic challenges since their inception in 1997. The series aims not only to tell an evolving story about modern creatives in a commercial market, but to become a digital, open-source hub for artists across multiple disciplines. The project development has received support from a Media Arts grant provided by the NEA.
GRFX is being developed in conjunction with Executive Producers Jennifer Warren and Nicholas Levis of BrandCinema. The director for the short film and first season of the series is William Wedig and the strategic consultant is Sub-Genre’s Brian Newman. BrandCinema is packaging the show for original digital network distribution and numerous sponsorship and branding opportunities.
The series delves deep into the chaotic world of Dresher’s Publishing Company: a family-owned, international paper-and-ink publishing company facing obsolescence and an arduous transition into the 21st century. Following the death of Grandpa Dresher, a power struggle ensues between his grandson heirs: Cale, a young businessman at heart, concerned more with commerce than art, and Paul, the idealist, more focused on the integrity of art than adjusting to the fiscal demands of running a modern company. The series blends live action with moments of animation that add deeper perspective and help drive the narrative of the dramatic story.
BrandCinema works with digital content creators to attach brands as strategic partners and co-producing sponsors. Founder Jennifer Warren has consulted for indie filmmakers in developing marketing and distribution plans for multi-platform releases. She has headed marketing departments at entertainment companies in London, New York and Los Angeles, and customized development reports for studio execs at Miramax and Warner Bros. She worked more directly with independent producers at Withoutabox, a division of IMDb. BrandCinema partner Nicholas Levis produced for JWT and BBDO. With over 400 productions under his belt, his experience has covered 48 states in the U.S. and a dozen other countries, including the U.K. and Canada. He has facilitated production partnerships around the globe and produced spots for companies such as Coca Cola, Trident, Israeli Lottery, Trojan, and Visa. Levis produced the 12-12-12 documentary currently in theaters, distributed by Weinstein Company. He is also a founder of Ovie Entertainment, which has developed and packaged independent films and documentaries such as Testimony, The Funeral Party and the award-winning cult favorite, Darkon.
William Wedig is an American director who has created work for such brands as PBS, MTV, Sports Illustrated, People Magazine and Time Magazine. His work has been shown in theaters, on broadcast and cable television, and in festivals such as Sundance and the Toronto Film Festival. Recently, he directed 26 episodes of the live-action/animation show Team Toon for Cartoon Network. His last film, Forged, won Best Film at the 2010 HBO New York Latino film Festival and was released in theaters in 2011. His first feature, Rise of the Dead (his film school thesis), won the Colony Film Festival and was released on video and On Demand in 2007.
PushPush is an Atlanta non-profit that develops distinctive opportunities for artists to explore new ideas and collaborate globally. Founded in 1997, PushPush has garnered numerous grants and awards for its collaborative work with hundreds of artists locally and internationally.
The global team also includes Byron Speight, Animation Supervisor; Christoph Heuer, Key Illustrator; and Brian Newman, Strategy Consultant. The team now has many illustrators, animators and 3-D modelers worldwide. As GRFX grows, the aim is to focus on flat expansion open to an increasing number of artists and collaborators.
The project includes a short film to introduce the series, 13 six-minute digital episodes (set to shoot in the spring of 2014), followed by a season of long-form episodes for digital networks. The first 13 episodes will also be available as a feature-length film.
GRFX will be promoted through multiple facets of technology, and mobile content will be provided with exclusivity via branded applications. The series will offer distribution through several channels, including its main website, along with its own YouTube channel and Facebook hub. The dramatic struggle of a group of artists fighting to balance their creativity with commercial demands is ideal for modern audiences and networks wanting to delve deeper into rich, meaningful stories with room to grow.
Pre-production started in November of 2013 for the short film set to shoot in Atlanta in February. The team has also newly launched an updated Website, Facebookpresence, and Twitter feed to provide relevant information and updates on the project as it grows. In the coming weeks, PushPush and BrandCinema will announce angel investors, locations and casting updates.
PushPush Film and Theater Receives NEA Arts in Media Grant to Support the Development of “GRFX,” a Global Interdisciplinary Film Series.
About Art, Commerce and the Future of Storytelling.
(Atlanta) National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman announced today that PushPush Film and Theater is one of 78 not-for-profit national, regional, state, and local organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Arts in Media grant. PushPush is recommended for a $75,000.00 grant, over two years, to develop a production team, a writing and directing staff and other key personnel for the creation of an original series about the challenges of creating new global stories in rapidly changing times. The series will digitally mirror the company’s mission and work over the last 15 years. The goal is to feature the work of local, national and international artists ranging from filmmakers and theater professionals to graphic illustrators, visual artists and musicians.
The 78 Arts in Media grant awards total $3.55 million. They support the development, production and national distribution of innovative media projects about the arts and media projects that can be considered works of art.
The GRFX Project is a unique story about a comic book/graphic novel publishing company and its new direction for the 21st Century. It’s a new concept in storytelling where the story itself creates opportunities for artists from various disciplines to participate, collaborate and discover new audiences.
“One of the most exciting aspects of this project,” says creator Tim Habeger, “is that it is being carried out by individual artists through open planning and their willingness to connect with other artists globally. At its heart, the GRFX Project is about improving our artistic ecosystem and finding new forms of artistic sustainability.
The GRFX project was developed by Tim Habeger, David Bruckner and Shelby Hofer over the last four years and it has involved a wide variety of global collaborators including European artists Rahel Salvodelli, Knut Berger and illustrator Christoph Heuer (Carlson Verlag, Berlin), and American writing and acting collaborators including Sahr Ngaujah (lead in Broadway’s hit FELA!), Alex Motlagh (The Signal), Drew Sawyer (School of Humans) and more.
Chairman Landesman said, “While Americans across the country are experiencing art live and in person every day, NEA research shows that more than half of American adults also consume the arts via electronic media. I am thrilled to announce these Arts in Media grants and look forward to the organizations’ efforts to reach ever wider audiences and create innovative new works of art.”
“Our goals in creating this project,” says PushPush Managing Artistic Director, Shelby Hofer, “are to help Atlanta artists to connect, highlight and distribute their work, and increase their excellence. New opportunities often come with a loss of personal vision – especially in digital media. The GRFX project deals with themes of high and low art, and the ongoing challenge of trying to remain true to one’s own artistic voice.”
The NEA received 329 eligible applications under the Arts in Media category, requesting more than $36 million in funding. Grant amounts range from $10,000 to $100,000 with an average grant amount of $45,513 and a median of $40,000. PushPush Film and Theater is among the 25% recommended for funding, a sign of organizational strength and creativity.
For a complete listing of projects recommended for Arts in Media grant support, please visit the NEA website at arts.gov.
PushPush Film and Theater