Raymond Carr on crowdfunding his "ET and Goonies meets the kids from The Wire" film Joyriders
I first learned about Raymond Carr after getting a tour of his spaceship. That should tell you just about everything you need to know about Raymond. He’s an Art Director, Production Designer, and Puppeteer whose work has been seen on Cartoon Network, Nick Jr. and Discovery Channel. The aforementioned spaceship is a fully immersive set he built for his upcoming short called Joyriders, which takes all your favorite 80s sci-fi adventures and explores them through the eyes of inner city kids of color. Raymond is currently crowdfunding the short on Seed & Spark, and I thought it would be a great time to chat with him about his early influences and his desire to provide more representation for people of color in the sci-fi world.
Tell us a bit about your background. How long have you been working in film? How'd you end up in that world?
Raymond: I've been working in the industry since 2005. My first show was a Nick Jr. kids show called Lazytown that was shot in Iceland. I got into the indie film scene in Atlanta through a film group called Dailies. We were a bunch of young filmmakers who really challenged each other to make quality work. One of the most notable projects from that group was a film that went to Sundance and sold theatrically called The Signal. I am still very tight with all those cats and we still challenge each other.
Tell us about Joyriders! What's the story? How did this first come together?
Raymond: The story is about three rowdy kids from the inner city. They stumble upon a dying alien who fuses their minds together enabling them to fly its spacecraft. Now, these ghetto astronauts are the keepers of the most important discovery in human history and must decide whether to use their new found consciousness to help the world that's never cared about them, or escape into the unknown. The film asks the question, what would society do if they realized that their most forgotten members have suddenly become their most important? Joyriders depicts young underprivileged girls and boys of color in the genre of 80's/90's sci fi adventure films. Think ET and Goonies meets the kids from The Wire.
I have a borderline unhealthy love with sci fi films, and growing up black it never even dawned on me that a person of color could be the chosen one for an adventure like this. So the germ of the idea has always been around. Films like Attack the Block really pushed me towards the idea that I could make something like the films I loved.
Joyriders is heavily influenced by 80's family adventure sci-fi. What are some of your first film memories that have made the biggest impact on your life?
Raymond: The biggest influence for me are some pretty obscure stuff. Besides Star Wars and Star Trek, I'd say a big one for me was Flight of the Navigator, as well as Robotech. These were just beautiful and sad coming of age stories that had such a joyful sense of adventure. Robotech is still one of the most exciting and powerful stories I've ever seen in media. Of course, that's through a strong lense of nostalgia.
I love that you're putting an emphasis on underprivileged kids of color as your main characters. Why do you think we've seen so little of this in films up until just recently and what can more filmmakers do to push in this direction?
Raymond: I think people of color have really started to influence the box office with our money in a significant way. Also we have started to gravitate towards more nerd culture, too. When I was growing up it was illegal to be a black nerd, but now it's way more mainstream.
I think the main thing white and mainstream filmmakers and content creators can do is to stop thinking of POC and black people as "other." Yes, you should be respectful when you depict a POC on screen, but don't think they're any different than the other characters in your cast.
Having gone through the exhausting crowdfunding process myself I understand just how much work it can be, but you're off to an INCREDIBLE start raising over half your funds in the first 10 days. Are there any tips you can give to filmmakers looking towards crowdfunding?
Raymond: Well, we are still fighting to get funded and with everyday dollar matters. I'd say if you're thinking of doing one, start doing research now! There are a lot of tutorials and training opportunities out there. Also, be realistic about your goals. It's going to be harder than you imagine.
You've got a good budget for a short film (although maybe it's still small for the scope of what you're doing). Did you ever consider trying to do it as a feature? Is that still the end-goal?
Raymond: Yup! This is a proof of concept for a large project. We are developing it as a feature and a series. The script is 24 pages, so it's either the first act of a film or the first episode of a series.
What's up next for you after Joyriders?
Raymond: Next is production! We're going to do the festival thing, but we plan on doing some local screenings as well.
Any last bits of advice for filmmakers who wanna follow in your footsteps?
Raymond: DON'T DO IT! JK. Just don't be afraid to think weird. Lean into your interest and what you're passionate about. Be personal and valuable and your audience will follow.
You can learn more about Raymond and Joyriders at www.seedandspark.com/fund/joyriders. He’s only got a few days left on his crowdfunding campaign, so join us today in supporting to help Raymond bring this film to life. Remember, even if you can’t support the film financially, just clicking that “follow” button on their campaign makes a world of difference!