Several former College of the Canyons film and television students and onetime SCVTV employees have produced a trilogy of short films on a shoestring budget, and plan to shoot additional chapters to expand the project to feature length — as soon as they raise more cash via an online fundraising campaign.
With a screenplay by Santa Clarita-based writer and filmmaking duo The Brothers Levitch — Daniel and Ari, whose passion is genre fiction — the film, “SWINE,” is a post-apocalyptic war story. It depicts a rebel faction on the brink of destroying itself from within as it fights to prevent an oppressive militaristic government from using fear and violence to conquer everything in its path.
“SWINE” began in 2009 as a 15-minute short film shot mainly in the Santa Clarita Valley over two weekends, with actors and crew members who had worked with the filmmakers on previous productions. The original “SWINE” short film premiered at the Repertory East Playhouse in Old Town Newhall in 2010.
Pictured on location are "SWINE" cast members (from left): Nixon (Chris Wiley), Cahill (Kelley Gallagher), Mercedes (Kelley MacKilligan), Captain Erikson (Gregory Lee Kenyon), Wallace (Osa Wallander) and Beck (Emily Chetner).
A positive response led Levitch and his crew to write and shoot two more chapters in 2010, with new locations, costumes, hand-crafted weapons and fresh talent. The “SWINE” trilogy premiered in a special midnight screening Sunday at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena.
“The trilogy was a huge success, costing less than $5,000 per film in cash and in-kind donations,” said Koren Young, the films’ executive producer.
“What we’re trying to do now is raise about $18,000, and that’s going to give us enough to produce three more chapters,” Young said. “We’ve got four weeks to do it through our Indie GoGo campaign. Everybody’s contribution will entitle them to exclusive benefits and perks.”
Donation levels range from “Friend” at $10 to “Executive Producer” at $2,500. Other donor perks include props to walk-ons and possible speaking parts, Young said.
The “SWINE” lead actors are Gregory Lee Kenyon (“Captain Erikson”), Osa Wallander (“Wallace”) and Kellsy MacKilligan (“Mercedes”). Daniel Levitch is the director, aided by assistant director Kyle J. Maki, a Time Warner Cable television editor who worked at SCVTV in Santa Clarita. M. Chastain Bowers and Koren Young are the producers. Ex-SCVTV staffer Brad Hoffarth handled the cinematography and editing, Ryan Young supervised the sound, and Ashley Witt composed the original score.
“SWINE” is every bit a local production. “Our writer, director, cinematographer, editor, sound designer, assistant director and producers are COC Radio, Television & Film alumni,” Young said. “Many of them were also volunteers (or employees) at SCVTV, producing, directing, running cameras. They’ve been working on short films together since 2003, and have produced several award-winning projects that have screened at festivals around the world.”
A professional storyteller since 2005, Daniel has created dozens of properties for both film and comics. His passion lies in genre fiction, where he’s free to write about sword fights, gunfights, fistfights, jet packs, robots, ray guns, rugged men and beautiful women, rogues, scoundrels, bounty hunters, vikings, conquistadors, samurai, amazons, cowboys, detectives, aviators and above all, adventure.
Matt Bowers – Producer
Originally a short story writer from the San Fernando Valley, Matthew Chastain Bowers got his start as a production coordinator on Fox Sports Splatter Factor, and then worked as a camera operator for CNN Headline News. Since then, he has produced several short films and two feature length movies. He also acts as a behind-the-scenes Creative Consultant for most of his cinematic projects. Matthew recently finished studying entertainment and copyright law at UCLA, and is currently developing several properties for Metaverse Cinema.
Brad Hoffarth – Cinematographer/Editor
Experimenting with images and sound from an early age, Brad has been a DIY filmmaker for the past 15 years. He began to make his own films on S-VHS, Super 8 & 16mm in high school inspired by westerns, film noir, sci-fi and horror. After working as an audio visual technician, production coordinator, editor and cameraman for Comcast, Time Warner and The Walt Disney Company, he relocated to the more indie film friendly San Francisco Bay Area. There he studied under cinematographer Hiro Narita ASC, director Lynn Hershman Leeson and legendary cult/underground filmmaker George Kuchar at the San Francisco Art Institute. Brad continues to shoot documentaries, shorts and music videos in both LA and SF.
Koren Young – Executive Producer
A recent co-founder of Arcay Studios, Koren is not new to post production. He’s been a professional filmmaker for over ten years and loves the opportunity to venture into the world of production. He’s produced dozens of films that have screened at festivals around the world and frequently collaborates with the crew from Well-Oiled Machine. During his career as a DVD & Blu-ray author, he’s had the pleasure of working on hundreds of titles for virtually every major studio.
Ryan Young – Sound Supervisor
Ryan’s fascination with sound began as a child when he experimented with audio layers by overdubbing on a dual-cassette deck. Ryan pursued sound in college where he studied radio, television and film. His earliest work was completing sound design for award-winning animated shorts from Disney’s Cal Arts in Valencia, CA. Over the past 10 years, Ryan has worked on hundreds of features, video games, and TV shows for studios like THQ, Fox, Paramount, and Warner Bros. He is a member of Digidesign’s elite family of certified Pro Tools Operators and is also a member of the I.A.T.S.E. Motion Picture Editors Guild. He is the recipient of a 2011 Golden Reel Award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors for his work on 30 Days of Night: Dark Days.
Ari Levitch – Prop Master
A History Teacher by day and a creative wunderkind by night, Ari has been fighting and writing with his older brother for as long as he (or anyone) cares to remember. On Swine, in addition to script duties, he was called upon to design and construct all kinds of post-apocalyptic/sci-fi goodness, including, but not limited to, ray guns, armor, grenades, Ion Cannons and more. He loves getting a chance to flex his creative muscle and seeing his creations immortalized on celluloid…er…digital media.
Kyle Maki – Assistant Director
Kyle Maki has produced and directed hundreds of video segments in a variety of platforms, including: CNN Headline News, Time Warner Cable Video OnDemand & TWC Channel 101, Los Angeles/Southern California. His work in independent film began in 2005 as an Assistant Editor. He wrote & directed his first independent film in 2006 and has since worked on many short and feature-length films that have been selected to film festivals all over the world. He often finds himself in front of the camera as well; having acted and provided voice-overs in many projects. He currently has numerous screenplays in development.
Cristine Craig – SFX Make-up
Christine Craig is a professional make-up artist with talents in both SFX make-up and beauty make-up. Her list of credits include CNN HLN, Time Warner Cable Video OnDemand, Fangoria, Playboy and dozens of other print, film & television outlets.She’s no stranger to the other side of the camera either, modeling for numerous magazines and online print work. Christine’s work can be seen on both sides of the camera in Swine.
Ashley Witt – Composer
Ashley started his career working with e-mu systems on the orchestral sample library for the Emulator-IV sampler with Miroslav Vitous (Bass player from Weather Report). In the 1990’s, he worked with Danny Elfman on fifteen films from Mission Impossible to Legend of Sleepy Hollow. During that time, he worked with other musicians like James Horner, No Doubt, Fleetwood Mac, Hans Zimmer and Bowling for Soup. He also completed orchestration and sound design on many movies including Titanic, Independence Day, Aliens IV, Air Force One and Sky High. Other notable achievements including creating the theme song (remixed recently through a contest) for the nationally syndicated 165+ radio talk show “The Tech Guy” and arranging and orchestrating “One World One Dream” sung by Tan Jing for the Bejing Olympics album.
Adam Stacey – Composer
Adam Stacey is a multi-instrumentalist/composer best known for being in the bands, Estradasphere, and Secret Chiefs 3. In addition to touring all over the U.S. and Canada, he has also recorded on several albums with musical genres ranging from gypsy jazz and classical to metal and avant-garde. Currently, he is attending school in Southern California for film scoring. His contribution to Swine is the creation of Wallace’s theme.
John Bellas – Additional VFX
John Bellas is a professional Visual Effects Generalist based in Los Angeles, whose 7-year track record ranges from TV & trailers to feature films. He has created animated 3D graphics for A-list DVDs & Blu-rays and single-handedly produced over 100 vfx shots for an upcoming feature film. John’s work was recently nominated for a 2011 Golden Trailer award in the “Best Graphics” category. As spectacular as his work can be, his contributions to Swine fall under the category of “Invisible Effects”, and go completely unnoticed to the viewer.
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