Producer John Kassab, in character, on the set of Like Lambs.

Photographed by Johanna B Kelly, the film's Australian production designer.

 

Los Angeles-based Australian producer John Kassab is completing his first narrative feature, Like Lambs, with the help of some Hollywood tech wizards.

Visual effects maestro Douglas Trumble, sound designers Wylie Stateman, Richard King and Per Hallberg and editor Joe Hutshing (whose credits include Oliver Stone’s W. and Savages and Cameron Crowe’s upcoming Aloha) have mentored Kassab.

The feature debut of US writer-director Ted Marcus, the film follows students at an elite boarding school who take a stand against government corruption and demand radical action when the over- leveraged US economy implodes.

The cast includes Liam Aiken (Ned Rifle, The Killer Inside Me), Connor Paolo (Mystic River, Gossip Girl, Revenge), Justin Chon (Twilight, 21 and Over), Chanelle Peloso (TV’s Incredible Crew, Zapped) and Godfrey (Louie, Soul Plane, Zoolander).

The indie film was shot in a Gothic castle in New England during the autumn of 2013 using 35mm film left over from the shoots of 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Kassab is now looking to raise $US33,000 via Kickstarter for music licensing, sound mixing and colour grading.

Asked about the lengthy post process, he tells IF, “Without the pressures of a studio rollout schedule, we've been able to lavish detail and attention on the film. We cut the picture and sound on one computer with a desk bell in a tiny apartment surrounded by mattresses. We have been keeping a mostly 24 hour schedule which sees Ted start and finish later than my work day with an overlap of several hours to collaborate and strategize.

“We could not afford to have an assistant picture or sound editors or use multiple machines which would have moved us through the process more quickly, however it would have robbed us of a steep learning curve for which we are ultimately very grateful. It was primal filmmaking in less than comfortable circumstances yet staring into the lush images from the castle every day was rewarding, and kept our excitement for the project high.

“As we took our time in post, we had the great privilege of seeking mentorship from many of our film-making heroes including Douglas Trumble, who invited us to screen at his studio, Wylie Stateman, Richard King and Per Hallberg, who have encouraged, advised and generously facilitated us and  Joe Hutshing, who advised us on our edit at a number of key points.”

Kassab moved to the US on Thanksgiving 2011 to continue his path as a sound designer after his work on the shorts The Lost Thing and Deeper Than Yesterday was widely acclaimed.

His first producing gig was 12 O'Clock Boys, writer-director Lotfy Nathan’s feature documentary about Pug, a young boy growing up on a combative West Baltimore block who finds solace in a group of illegal dirt bike riders known as The 12 O'Clock Boys.

Kassab hasn’t yet sought to make any distribution deals for Like Lambs but he is determined to secure a theatrical release. “Like Lambs was made to be shown in cinemas on 35mm," he said. “I am a huge supporter of VOD and all modes of digital distribution. However, thanks to Interstellar, many theatres have reinstalled their old projection hardware and we hope this will make possible a series of event screenings of our film in the format in which it was captured.

“We aspire to play in iconic and antique picture houses across the world and it is our mission to work with sales companies and distributors who have the passion and vision to make this dream a reality with us.”

View the Kickstarter page here.

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