Duluth native Jim Ojala’s first feature film project, “STRANGE NATURE” has until Thursday Oct. 10 to make its final push for the $45,000 goal on Kickstarter, or it’s back to the drawing board of indie-film financing.
Ojala’s film centers on a mysterious outbreak of deformed frogs discovered in Minnesota ponds in the mid 1990s. The “eco-thriller,” as Ojala describes it, muses on what might happen if the mutated deformities spread to other species, including humans. Ojala hopes to shoot the film in Duluth, using local talent.
“It’s a pretty intense passion project,” Ojala said. “I’ve been working on this off an on for going on ten years. It’s such a big, ambitious project.”
Ojala lives in Los Angeles, where he makes his living working on makeup and creature effects for the television and film industry. Over his career, he’s racked up an impressive resume, working on notable shows like the Joss Whedon classics, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” and “Firefly.”
“L.A. is my home now,” Ojala said. “But still to this day, Duluth is where I feel most comfortable filming. That’s where I started.” Ojala began his career on public access in Duluth.
With many ambitious indie-projects finding success on popular crowd-funding avenues like Kickstarter, Ojala realized that it’s time to get in while the getting is good.
“If you have a good idea and a strong base, you really have a shot of doing something on your own that you couldn’t do otherwise,” Ojala said. “ A year from now (crowd-funding) probably won’t look like it does now."
“STRANGE NATURE” has the support of Mayor Don Ness, who even offered up his office to be used for the film. The film features a fictional mayor who has to deal with the deformity outbreak in his town.
“I really want to capture that look of the Midwest, especially in the fall, with the brilliant colors,” Ojala said. “If you’re making a movie about ugly things, it’s a little too obvious to make the scenery ugly too. I want the scenery to be beautiful to offset the ugliness that I’m showing in the film.”
A portion of the film has already been shot in Minnesota, and Ojala has crafted a good part of the makeup and creature effects over the past decade. He even made an animatronic wolf that he estimates would cost around $30,000 if it had to be built for another film.
There is still a steep hill to climb in a short amount of time, but Ojala remains optimistic. Even if the Kickstarter doesn’t meet its goal, he will still continue trying to make "STRANGE NATURE" a reality.
“Nothing is going to shut us down,” he said. “I’ve got so much invested, both time and money, I can’t afford not to make it.”
For more information on Strange Nature, head over to the website: www.strangenaturemovie.com/
Check out the Kickstarter HERE