SPOTLIGHT: Two Kickstarter campaigns by Whidbey Island originals are in a race against the clock

Posted in Culinary, Feature, Spotlight

The Nattress Family farm on Whidbey Island is an historic place that the family would like to make into a farm-to-table cooking school. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Nattress)

BY PATRICIA DUFF
Whidbey Life Magazine, editor

Time is running out and these artists need cash.

That’s how Kickstarter works. It’s a crowd-based method of funding projects by everyday folks and two of those everyday folks are from here on Whidbey Island.

The first is local chef and Coupeville native Vincent Nattress and his family who are hoping to raise about $57,000 to build a kitchen and cooking school on their historic Whidbey Island farm in Langley. So far, the Nattress family has raised about $20,000 and they have only 10 days left to meet the 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 deadline. If they don’t make the goal by that day, the funding is off.

The other is South Whidbey High School graduate Orson Ossman, who has also joined the Kickstarter race with his production team, “The Ironwood Gang,” in order to complete their first feature film. “The Phoenix Project” has a Sunday, Dec. 30 deadline. The Gang has about $2,000 of its $30,000 goal so far.

Kickstarter is a great tool, and works because it gives folks the opportunity to pledge at various levels, while supporting creative projects that speak to one’s own particular sensibility. It’s a chance to make a difference in the world by supporting projects born of passion and to be specific about where one’s money goes.

Molly Nattress holds ” Gold Lime,” a bantam rooster, at her family’s farm in Langley.

Nattress and his wife Tyla opened a restaurant together in San Francisco that was rated by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of that city’s top ten. Nattress has worked with top chefs from all around the Napa Valley and also in France. He’s cooked beside Mollie Katzen of the famed Moosewood Kitchen cookbook series and with Jaques Pepin for television. Nattress was also the Executive Chef at the prestigious Meadowood Napa Valley for five years, so his cooking chops are unmistakably rock solid. Now the couple would like to bring that expertise home to their working farm. They will call the school the Orchard Kitchen and create a hub for local farmers and foodies to learn, teach and eat.

“We envision converting one of our out buildings into a kitchen in which we can teach classes.  The classes will be hands on and will focus on local ingredients with interesting, diverse, classical and modern techniques,” Nattress said.

The classes, he said, will culminate with a meal at which the students will get to sit down and enjoy the fruits of their labors.

“I also hope to have guest chef and guest farmer classes featuring the involvement of other experts, who will come to share their knowledge and passion,” he added

For folks who are interested in the Slow Food movement, the transition on Whidbey to a self-sustaining, farm-to-table environment, where young chefs can be mentored on Whidbey Island, this project is it.  This money will help the Nattress family to create a modern, back-to-the-land kitchen and cooking school on Whidbey Island. Go to the Orchard Kitchen at Kickstarter and learn about how to pledge and how the money will be put to use.

If the Nattress family doesn’t do it by 10 p.m. Dec. 13, they get nothing.

The same goes for the Ironwood Gang and the Phoenix Project and its Dec. 30 deadline.

Corey Rieger, Orson Ossman, David Pesta and Andy Simpson are the cast and crew of the Phoenix Project. (Photos courtesy of Lillian James Wojcik)

The film, produced by and starring Ossman, was independently created by graduates of the Dodge College for Film and Media Arts at Chapman University, “The Ironwood Gang.”

The film is a psychological sci-fi drama that explores the motivations and ethical boundaries of the human mind. It chronicles the research of four scientists as they craft a machine to reanimate deceased organisms. As the project develops, the machine exceeds their expectations, creating possibilities that they all hoped for, but yielding problems that only some could predict. With dwindling resources, the crew must contain their ulterior motives in order to realize the daunting task ahead of them: bringing the dead back to life.

“This project has never been about human mortality or self-preservation, but what we have discovered here is astounding,” Perry Frank, head scientist and theorist for the film.

Using red camera technology and professional coloring and sound design, the Ironwood Gang is devoted to producing the highest quality feature length film possible, which they hope to take to film festivals during 2013.

Ossman, who is the son of David Ossman and Judith Walcutt, has been working in radio and theatre since he was a child.  He graduated from Dodge College in May, with a BFA in film production and an emphasis in directing.  He currently lives in downtown Los Angeles.

Whidbey Island son Orson Ossman is an actor and the producer of the Phoenix Project film.

“We are a creative collective of young filmmakers dedicated to making movies together for the rest of our lives,” Ossman said.

“Our company thrives on a sense of camaraderie and solidarity that is seldom present in the hierarchy of a film set. Individually, each member of the Ironwood Gang is an artist. Collectively, we are an arsenal of ideas and a font of creative energy,” he added.

The $28,000 still needed to finish post-production on the Phoenix Project is necessary to complete the film. For an interesting story on the making of this film and the extraordinary perseverance and passion of these young filmmakers, visit the Phoenix Project at Kickstarter, or visit the Facebook page and make a pledge before Dec. 30.

Pictured at top, Maggie Rose Nattress holds a baby turkey poult named Peekaboo. 

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