We have tried to make this brief but it has proven to be difficult! In a nutshell: Our Development phase lasted from October 2010 – December 2011, during which several tools were created to pitch the project for funding — it was an extensive discovery process. We officially began production in January 2012 and completed the film in February 2013. Our World Premiere was on April 28th, 2013 at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary film festival, where The Ghosts In Our Machine was voted a Top Ten Audience Favourite.
We have since been ushering Ghosts into the spotlight.
You may find the details of our history interesting…
Filmmaker Liz Marshall was conceiving of a cross-media and feature length documentary concept about animals since 2004, inspired by her partner Lorena Elke’s commitment to animal rights, Liz was determined to create a project about the animal issue that would be accessible to a broad and diverse audience, one that would make a difference and stand out. Not an easy task! The Ghosts in Our Machine crystallized in the fall of 2010, at which time Liz engaged in many discussions with animal rights photographer Jo-Anne McArthur about her body of work called We Animals. Liz quickly recognized that Jo-Anne would make a compelling and accessible central character, and she invited Jo to be the protagonist. Then, a small pre-development team was put together to create branding, conduct research and to build a prototype website. Liz then officially partnered with producer Nina Beveridge and together they produced pitch materials in time for the 2011 Hot Docs Documentary Festival in Toronto. Liz and Nina established Ghosts Media Inc. Liz and Nina worked with a small team to build a flash website, it served as an ambient cinematic sales pitch to express the film’s overall tone and vision. It featured 16 strong endorsements by some prominent international Animal Ambassadors: activists, artists, doctors, scientists and others.
During early development two trailers were created, and a featured “Ghost Story” segment called “Maggie’s Story”.
Hoodies branded with the ghosts URL, early logo design and the evocative phrase “Property or Sentient Being?” were created for the Ghosts team.
Two original songs were separately written and donated to the project by singer songwriters: “The Ghosts in Our Machine” by Kyp Harness (kypharness.net) and Capture Me” by Deb Montgomery (debmontgomery.com). These songs were integrated into the initial trailers. The online social media activities were vital, and still are. The Ghosts facebook page and twitter feed is fostered regularly to pique interest, share information, learn and connect with a steadily growing and passionate international community of supporters.
In the spring of 2011 Liz and Nina entered into a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo.com and were successful in attracting interest from over 100 new international supporters and to reach the campaign goal. A big shout out to our Indieogogo supporters – you all made it possible to recoup some expenses and do some shooting and editing.
The day after the 2011 Hot Docs International Documentary Festival we were offered a firm development deal by Bruce Cowley, the Commissioning Editor of documentary channel. The Bell New Media Fund subsequently came on board for development of the digital new-media side of the documentary. This was a huge moment to receive such affirmative feedback from mainstream market partners. During the second phase of development Director Liz Marshall wrote an in-depth script for the film and shot and edited a new trailer that prominently features Jo-Anne McArthur as the main subject. The trailer features a rescue story by Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York. Fanny and Sonny were ‘downed’ factory farmed animals destined to be sold to a rendering plant but they now live happily at Farm Sanctuary. Fanny and Sonny are two of the main non-human animals featured in The Ghosts In Our Machine.
For our interactive new-media development we partnered with Webby award-winning Interactive Art Director’s The Goggles. The Goggles conceived of a flash based narrative concept to be an online companion to the film. The concepts driving it are intimately related to the film and use many of the same iconic visual and audio elements. The Goggles entered production in the fall of 2012, and their work is prominently featured as a clickable full screen immersive story on the homepage of our website.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for your interest. For the Ghosts.