Frequently Asked Questions about Acro Camp

Acro Camp Cast Members

[Updated 1 January 2013]

What is the status of the films? How are you coming along?

Acro Camp (the first film):

The soundtrack is finalized. Many thanks to all of you who contributed your musical talents!

The film itself is in post-production. All of the ground footage is logged. We’ve completed maneuver logs for all of the 41 sorties and fully assembled and logged all video and audio for about 95% of them. We have eight airshow performer cameos complete and ready to drop in. The sequence from the IAC Michigan Aerobatic Open with the Dave Scott commentary is done. The ground school segment (with the parachute packing) is essentially done. The storyboard is up and running, as is the BAPP (the big-ass piece of paper), which consolidates all of the flights on a timeline and identifies flights in which we can synch stuff that happened in two different aircraft at the same time. The “Smoke on the Weaver” sequence is done.  Sneak peeks are available here and here. There’s a bit of the “making of” featurette about the music here.

Once we complete assembling and logging the remaining sorties, it will remain only to assemble what we’ve logged into a cogent story and then write and record the narration (to be done by Steve Tupper). The final editing should go reasonably quickly and be a lot like snapping the pieces together.

Ray: Another Acro Camp (the second film):

Principal photography wrapped on August od 2011. All of the footage (except for some additional B-roll and possibly some airshow performer cameos) is in the can. Other than carving out some footage for Will Hawkins to use in A Pilot’s Story, we’re leaving the footage alone until we finish editing the first film

When will the film be out?

We haven’t set a date. We’re editing furiously. We hate making promises that we can’t keep.  We’ll let you know soon!

Are you taking pre-orders?

No, not yet. We probably won’t take any pre-orders until we actually pull the trigger for DVD duplication. We don’t want to be in a position of holding people’s money until we know for sure that we have a film to sell.  (But then we’ll hold as much of it as you care to send us!)

Where can I see the film when it comes out?

If, by that, you mean a movie theater, we have no idea. There’s no plan for a theatrical release. And it’s unlikely that we’ll get a distribution deal that will put the film in theaters. We’ll be submitting the film to several festivals (SXSW and the Traverse City Film Festival are already on our list) and we might rent a place to have the premier, but it seems unlikely that you’ll see the film on the big screen.

Primary distribution will be on DVD. We also plan to make it available online through iTunes and other digital outlets. We watched with much interest as Louis C.K. distributed his Live at the Beacon Theater by means of non-DRM digital downloads. We might try something like that, too.  That said, we also read (and re-read) the Red State Parts 1, 2, and 3 parts of Kevin Smith‘s book, Tough Sh*t and that got us pretty excited, too.

Where will I be able to buy the DVDs when they become available?

We’re going to push like heck to sell them directly right here on the website. Margin is everything and there’s a precipitous drop-off as soon as you get a middle-man involved. We’re going to sell as many copies as we can directly in the early going to capture the sales to our friends and followers that are based on our pre-existing relationships. They we’ll go out to other distribution channels on the assumption that they’ll be earning their margins by reaching folks that we haven’t reached by then.

We’ll also plan to be at the major fly-ins with a booth for a year or so after the initial release. We’ll probably share a booth with the guys from A Pilot’s Story and/or other independent aviation filmmakers.

Do you need any help?

Not necessarily with editing or post. It’s going slowly, but it’s moving along.

If you happen to have a massive and powerful Mac that you want to lend us for a few months, that would be cool. E-mail us with your ideas.

If you happen to work for a company that makes massive Mac-compatible hard-drive arrays and want to throw a few our way, that’s be great, too!

We will likely want help with access to aviation groups and opportunities to screen the film in various locations around the country (at which we’ll also want to sell copies of the DVD). If you’re interested in hosting a screening and can be our advance crew (securing venue, getting people there, etc.), we’ll be sure to show up and do a compelling Q&A for your audience and otherwise knock ourselves out to show you how much we appreciate your excitement about the project. E-mail us with your contact information so that we can add you to our list of contacts for that kind of thing.

Once the first movie comes out, we’ll probably post another request to help out with the music for the second installment. It’ll probably be much like the way in which we crowdsourced Acro Grass for the first film.

Do you need money or want investors?

Not at this time. We’ve managed to bootstrap the whole thing thus far and it appears that we’ll be able to get the first film to market with the funds we have. Thanks for asking, though!

Are you going to shoot another one? If so, when?

We have two in the can and we’re probably already a little ahead of ourselves. We won’t really think about a third until after the first one is out and it becomes clear that it makes financial sense to complete the second one.

If there’s a third, we’re thinking about such things as bringing back one or two of the campers from the first film, holding the camp during the week before an IAC contest and making the contest the finale of the film, and similar kinds of things. At the moment, though, it’s all fantasy and speculation. We’re head-down and trying to get the first one out.

It sure is taking a long time to get the first one out . . .

Yep, you’re right. We’re as blue about that as anyone. It’s a slow process and, at the moment, there’s one guy working on it. This has always been a shoestring project that has to take a back seat to primary income-generating activities, family, and other elements of life. If you note the time hacks on most of Tupper’s Twitter and Facebook posts and the Acro Camp Twitter account, you’ll note how many of them are between the hours of 2100 and 0200 local in Detroit. Please simply be assured that we’re going as fast as we can and we want to see this movie just as badly as you do.

Would a big pile of money make this thing happen any faster?

Sure. It might even make it better. But it would also scare the hell out of us. We really think we have a great little movie here. But we’re doing our level best to keep expectations low and reasonable and keep the pressure off. We already feel a huge amount of pressure to deliver a movie after so many people came out to help us shoot the movie, all for no pay other than airfare, hotel, some beer, and a diet of midwestern starch. Yeah, a pile of money would make things go faster, but we’d be working with that dread in the back of our minds that the thing wouldn’t earn out the pile of money. Better to keep this cottage-like and see what happens.

If the first one turns out bat-sh*t huge and we make a pile of money, we’ll be the first to sink a lot of that into some faster computers and other stuff that. But, at that point, we’ll be spending our own money, so the pressure thing won’t be any larger than it already is for the first film.

How can I go get an experience like the Acro Camp campers had?

If the first film is successful, we might franchise the experience and set up an Acro Camp program at one or more flight schools here in the United States.  Stay tuned about that idea.

Otherwise, think about calling around your own home airport and seeing what aerobatic training is available.  Steve started this whole thing by simply getting out and flying aerobatics with Barry and then with Don.  You might even consider getting some friends together to go have a common experience at an acro school.  One in particular that I’ve always wanted to attend is Greg Koontz’s Bed and Breakfast called the Sky Country Lodge.

Who the hell is this Steve Tupper guy?

Steve is a suburb-dwelling lawyer and pilot.  Seven years ago, he decided that he wanted a ride in an F-16 fighter jet.  He figured that starting up a podcast might be a good way to garner a media presence big enough to get him a media ride with the Thunderbirds.  He got that ride (and he has 1.0 of dual instruction in his logbook to prove it).  And he’s kept the podcast going through more than 200 episodes, covering every corner of aviation and aerospace and experiencing much of it firsthand.

In 2009, Steve hatched the idea of putting together a movie.  Pro-sumer cameras had reached the level at which any idiot with $10,000 could shoot a reasonably decent feature film.  And Steve is exactly that kind of idiot.  Acro Camp is Steve’s experiment in independent filmmaking.  Can a ragtag yet intrepid fellowship of new-media and social-media personalities and pilots make a movie that people will want to watch?  There’s only one way to find out and that’s what Steve is doing.

There’s additional information about Steve and his podcast in FAQ form over at the website of his podcast, Airspeed.