11 November 2010 | Hellmant
James vs. the World!
'JAMES VS. REALITY': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)
I attended the premiere of this 23 minute short film (shot and produced in Portland, OR) last night (11/09/10) at the Bagdad Theater in Portland with my friend Brent Simon. I've been following the film and it's production on facebook ever since 'liking' it and 'friending' it's lead director Chris Wilson several months ago (I almost went to an 'extras call' late last July but had just gotten back from a mountain hike and couldn't find anyone to go with me). Apparently the film has been in production for two and a half years and was shot on a 'next to nothing' budget (Which is pretty impressive considering the amazing effects and production value of the film). The premiere was a blast with over 500 people in attendance, for the free event! The movie was a lot of fun too and the energy of the crowd (a large portion of which was made up of the cast and crew and their friends) was contagious. Having made my own films, with even smaller production values, which had their own smaller premieres made seeing this much more successful indie film's debut pretty cool.
The film stars Jonathan Senske as the title character James McMurphy, a mental institution patient who believes he has super powers and that it's up to him to save the world. Hollie Olson co-stars as Dr. Anne Ansbro, a physiologist who's grown inpatient with James repeated escapes and desperately tries to bring him back to reality. While James struggles with his 'need to save the world' he also copes with feelings of love for a woman named 'Jane' and attempts to find her wherever and in whoever he can. When the city is put in serious great danger James of course feels the need to break free from the institution once again and live out his destiny to save the world.
The film is written and directed by Chris R. Wilson and Tim Feeney. Wilson also served as assistant camera operator, sound editor, sound mixer, special and digital effects artist, animator, art director, editor, executive producer and production designer on the film. Feeney also acted in the film as well as served as special effects and special makeup effects artist on the film. A DVD of the film is for sale for $15 (with all proceeds going to fund the film's festival run) and contains over 4 hours of special features on the making of the 23 minute film! I haven't seen the special features yet but I ordered a DVD and saw a sample of one at the premiere, it looked great. Wilson has another project in the works now called 'THE CHRONICLES OF NERM', it's a solo animated film he's been making for 5 years (which was previewed before this film and features the voice talent of Zoe Bell!).
The movie itself is a very impressive cinematic achievement. I have a soft spot for indie films and especially those that can perform such great feats as this one. What Wilson and company did on this film on such a small budget is amazing. The special effects are the most impressive accomplishment in my opinion, including a great creature effect which even movies with budgets the size of $2 million (like the 'LAKE PLACID' sequels) don't come even close to achieving (the filmmakers behind those direct to video and Syfy network films could learn a lot from Wilson). The story is simple and short but it is a short film, which makes it hard to compare to feature films, the same goes for character development. The acting is all impressive, especially Senske, Olson and there's a great comedic performance from an actor named Jv Williams as another psychiatric inmate. I didn't find the film quite as funny as the crowd at the premiere but it does have a great quirky and irreverent feel to it. It's definitely a memorable and unique film going experience and one I look forward to having again, when my DVD arrives.
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