Rabbit hole What will the socially inept Fern find inside the portal?

Project Spotlight

Down the rabbit hole and onward to Sundance

By Chris O'Neal 08/30/2012

Project: Short film: A Tiny Portal
Goal: $12,500
Deadline: Sept. 15
Platform: Kickstarter.com

Through a wormhole in the quiet suburbs of Camarillo, the remnants of a film pieced together by two passionate filmmakers rest, after months of filming and construction. Writer and director Stephanie Gumpel and cinematographer Jeremy Poindexter’s A Tiny Portal — a short film born out of day-job boredom with a strong vein of creativity, curiosity and social anxiety — is set to premiere in September.

A Tiny Portal follows Fern, a socially awkward young woman, as she attempts to make personal connections. As is often the case, problems arise and her loneliness swallows her up until her neighbors, sensing a great amount of potential within her, offer to share their secret: they can create portals that connect one part of the world to another.

“Her passion for the idea really came through, it got me excited,” said Poindexter of partner Gumpel. “We were on a hike through these lava fields in Hawaii — basically, lava flows and when it hardens it leaves behind these portal-like tunnels by the ocean. The visual was so stunning, it got us to the next level with the script.”

Gumpel studied film at the University of Hawaii before moving back to Camarillo, where she reconnected with Jeremy Poindexter after his graduation from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The two formed a creative friendship and developed the idea behind A Tiny Portal. When it came time for production, the duo turned to friends, family and Camarillo locals to fill in the gaps.

“The way that we got people was by being open and enthusiastic about the film,” said Gumpel. “Our assistant cameraman, [who is] also from Camarillo, we met his mother-in-law at Party Pleasers. We were just talking about the film and she said, ‘Oh my gosh, my son in-law does set design and he’s incredible!’ He also turned out to be an incredible set builder.”

Actor Richard Reihle, best known for his spots in Office Space and Bridesmaids, joined the cast early on, while musician Perrin Cloutier of the indie-rock outfit Beirut jumped at the chance to score the film.

The 20-minute short was filmed using the same technology relied upon by Ridley Scott in Prometheus and Peter Jackson in The Hobbit: the RED camera, an advanced digital recorder. With only a few weeks to finish, Gumpel and Poindexter have launched a Kickstarter campaign that’s raised a little more than $2,500 of the $12,500 goal.

If the goal isn’t met by Sept. 15, the money is returned to the “backers” and Gumpel and Poindexter are left with nothing, as though they’d angered Willy Wonka on his chocolate tour.

“I think in a perfect world, this is how art will get made,” said Gumpel. “Everybody in the community will come together to support a project. That’s what Kickstarter is.” 

A Tiny Portal is set to finish post-production in mid-September. There are plans to submit it to Sundance and other festivals. To find out more, visit www.atinyportal.com or www.facebook.com/atinyportal.

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