Never heard of BLOOD KISS?  Go here.  Don’t come back until you’re done.  I’ll wait.

Here’s a quote from the project’s Kickstarter page, for those of you who have no wish to click a link:

“Joe Belicek doesn’t believe in vampires – good thing they believe in him.” (Yeah, that’s about as much plot that’s written out.  Great tagline, huh?  If you want to learn more, you should probably click the link.)

Okay, now you’re back.  First and foremost: please, back the project.  Obviously, I’m partial to it or I wouldn’t have backed it myself.  But, ultimately, this is for awareness of a project that I think deserves notice.  For those of you uninterested in backing the project, I understand.  It’s not for everyone. But maybe, just maybe, you can do this pipe dream, one shared by so many, a favor by sharing it (via this blog or via the Kickstarter) with someone you know who WOULD back it.  The project itself is worth the backing, even if it doesn’t tickle your particular fancy.

Gorgeous poster art by Christopher D. Salmon (Image courtesy of BLOOD KISS Production Staff)

Gorgeous poster art by Christopher D. Salmon
(Image courtesy of BLOOD KISS Production Staff)

And now that you have brief (or not so brief) explanation of Michael Reaves’ latest project as well as my plea for support (whichever way you choose to give it), I can continue.  Forgive me for doing this to you, but I’m going to take you back to my high school days.  Hang on with me, it’s worth the trip.

Senior year, I was supposed to be on the Advanced Placement track in English.   And if not AP, Honors.

My reaction: Nope, not for me, sorry.

It wasn’t the work load or the teachers or scheduling conflicts or because I was a horrific slacker (although, I did have a healthy case of Senioritis) or any of the normal reasons an Honors student opts out of the program.  Nope.  It was because of the course material.

You see, the only Honors course was called “College Writing.”  It was less about reading, and far more about perfecting the college application essay.  I was uninterested in spending a whole year on perfecting the art of writing narcissistic celebrations of my talents and habits carefully crafted to look humble and self-effacing (I may have some objections to the whole college applications process).

The Advanced Placement course was good.  Stellar even.  But Advanced Placement was about a test.  All the readings and writings were focused on getting the magic five on the exam.  The course is as much about breadth as it is about depth, but it’s hard to go deep when your scope is so broad.

And then, there was British Literature.  It was the class that Seniors who didn’t want to do Honors or AP took.  It was the class for the kids who suffered through English courses, or the kids who felt a fondness, but not a passion.  It was not for the kid who loved and lived the book life.

And yet, there I was.  Opting into British Literature because I knew that I could expect certain texts I was desperate to read on the syllabus—that those stories and books wouldn’t be in College Writing at all and would be skimmed over in Advanced Placement.

One of the books in this course was Dracula by Bram Stoker.  It was up to the class to choose what Victorian Era novel we were going to read (the other option was Shelley’s Frankenstein), and I was thrilled beyond belief when my classmates voted in favor of Dracula.  I had been hoping to read it all year long.

You see, vampires fascinate me.

This was before Twilight was published, so it wasn’t a product of that craze.  It was just the romance of vampires that was this beautiful conundrum in my head.  I wanted to explore it.

Vampires are dead.  Furthermore, they feed off the death and/or illness of others.  And yet, they take that death and turn it into life!  It’s the ultimate human fantasy: to use the inevitability of death—that curse that afflicts everyone to ever walk the earth—and with it make an engine that engenders life.  This is what I mean by the romance of vampires.  Here are creatures that capture the essence of what it means to be human—a desire for life so strong it might transcend the tyrant of death itself.

Isn’t that beautiful?  And strange?  And baffling?

Well, I certainly thought it was.  So I read Dracula.  I read Twilight when it came out (and it takes the romance a bit too far, in my opinion).  I read some other materials.  I looked at movie after movie and watched one or two, but I just couldn’t make myself want to watch the vampire movies that were out there.  In college, my roommates introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer!  I was entranced, but still ultimately displeased.  I came to the conclusion that I love vampires, but I really don’t like Hollywood vampires.  They may be romantic creatures in some ways, but they were one dimensional.  Transparently simple.  Not all that beautiful.  Disappointing.

So, fast-forwarding many years to the present day, when Neil Gaiman tweeted about a project he was going to act in (insert appropriate fangirling here) and I saw it was about vampires . . . let’s just say I was skeptical.

Really skeptical.  Maybe even a bit derisive.

But, Neil Gaiman is a powerful magnetic force for creativity, so I started doing research.  I looked up Michael Reaves’ past works and realized he wrote for many, if not most, of the iconic shows of my generation’s collective childhood. 

That's Neil Gaiman and Amber Benson as drawn so beautifully by Tom Mandrake. (Image courtesy of BLOOD KISS Production Staff)

That’s Neil Gaiman and Amber Benson as drawn so beautifully by Tom Mandrake.
(Image courtesy of BLOOD KISS Production Staff)

The man is absurdly prolific.  And even if these shows weren’t the ones I faithfully watched (forgive me), they were shows that still informed me.  I have distinct memories connected to Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles scattered across my conscious.  I read the description on Kickstarter and learned Amber Benson was going to be in BLOOD KISS.  My Buffy days came back and smacked me across my fangirly face.  My interest increased.  And then, further down in the description, I stumbled across something.

The vampires were going to be genetically formed via virus vampires?  Oooh!  That was new.  That was interesting.  That was . . . okay, time to back the project.  The first movie project I’ve ever backed.

Only after I pledged my money did I watch the video explaining the project.  It got me even more excited.  The presented aesthetic, combined with the distinction of the genetic vampires, combined with these super stars that I loved and adored was more than I could ask for.  I was FINALLY excited about a movie about vampires.  There were elements I had never seen in the vampire mythology and a writer I could trust implicitly.

Even more so, the romance, the conundrum, the desperation for life—things I had missed (or felt missed the mark) in modern interpretations—they’re all there.   In a three and a half minute short.  I’m partial to these aspects of vampires, and I’ll admit that personal preference colors my perception, but the actors, the writer, the graphic novel artist all come to this project with those things.  There’s a romance with the characters.  A conundrum in how this will get pulled off.  A desperation to bring great art to life.  All inspired by a man with a script.  I don’t doubt that these things are in the script he carries.  I support this because I see a reflection of what made me first fall in love with these creatures.  I see these vampires as dearly familiar, even though they are new and exciting, too.

It was the same instinct that told me to take BritLit when I would have had a stronger résumé if I had taken Honors or AP, as the instinct that told me to back this project.  Passion for a subject trumps merit.  The passionate can bring merit to a project, but merit cannot bring passion.  I guarantee you, I learned more in that year than if I had taken the harder, more rigorous classes.  I guarantee you, this will make a better movie with a tinier budget than any feature film with more studio-perceived merit (which equals funding) could.  It all comes down to a product that people can believe in.

Backing BLOOD KISS means I had the opportunity to contribute to the realization of this story, to believe in it.  Right now, that story lives inside the minds of so few.  From what little I know of it, this is a story that deserves to be let out, to capture more minds and more hearts.  My little donation, paltry really, was my way of helping free the story to be loved by one and all.  That, more than some new and interesting vampires, is a concept I can get behind: that stories are meant to be free and to be told and to be loved.  And that this story deserves its chance in the spotlight, its chance to steal our hearts—and maybe a bit of the blood pumping through them . . . always with a kiss.

This blog willingly written at the request of the BLOOD KISS team.  Thank you to a team that has decided to so fully put itself in the hands of their audience and allows us to show our love and devotion as we see fit.  And thank you to a team that has me excited about vampires again.  Please, if it’s something you think you’ll enjoy, back this very worthy project.

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