With the Market in full swing last Thursday a smaller number of attendees reconvened that afternoon back to the J.A. de Seve theatre for the Raven Banner Entertainment Showcase. Four projects were presented in various stages of production: Portal to Hell!!! Sanctum, Ventablvck and The Dunner. All four made their mark in one way or another.
Portal to Hell!!! I believe that this is a project that everyone really wants to see moved forward and come alive. The original short was amazingly funny and gory. Perhaps even with the passing of Roddy Piper we want to see this project happen to honor his memory.
And honestly who does not want to see a feature length Portal to Hell!!! in the style of an 80s mission movie which will incorporate a healthy dose of that same humor and gore ?
Right now the project is at the second draft stage with the script. The elements of what made the short film so appealing are already in place and Matt Watts and Vivieno Caldinelli are still creatively leading the charge.
I suppose all that is left is to see that when this project moves forward is who will take the place of Piper. Producers Ryan Reaney and Andrew Rosen did flash up a few pics of some of Hollywood’s more suitable leading men and cult icons. There were some really interesting suggestions up there.
Sanctum - One of last year’s market entrants was giving a shout out to Sanctum director Jerry Pyle on social media leading up this past weekend. I jokingly said that since Pyle was a friend of his I would be most judgemental about Pyle’s pitch then. Turns out, joking aside, I could not bring myself to come down on this project even if I tried.
The story of Sanctum is that architect Xander Gildfried wakes up with the suspicion that there is an extra room in his home. But where? Xander designed his own home. Presumably he knows every nook and cranny of it. Thus begins his descent into madness searching for this mysterious room.
His proof of concept was slick, with a bright palate that skews horror’s tendencies to go dark or go home. The angles were long wides framed by the walls of the home. I said to Pyle later that night that if anything ever reminds of Soderbergh’s The Limey then you got me, hook, line and sinker. And that meant something to Pyle to hear that.
Ventablvck - I had said in a previous article about Ventablvck that because I have helped filmmaker Gabriel Carrer prepare for this showcase by doing some storyboard artwork for him (surreal seeing your illustrations up on the big screen for everyone to see) I did not want to appear as if I had a bias towards it.
I have read a couple drafts of the script and we do talk about the film creatively from time to time. I made viewing recommendations for homework when it came to shooting his proof of concept, a neon-soaked underground fight. We have talked about his screenplay as well. So I did not want to come across as partisan to any particular project.
The Dunner - This is weird one.
The idea of the film is good - Galaxy Quest meets The Hangover. The story is about a d-list television star who is the subject of a thesis film for three naive film students. Robin Dunne, a Canadian actor, who has been on sci fi shows like Sanctuary and Defiance will star as The Dunner. He is to this movie what Tim Allen was to Galaxy Quest. While the trio are filming The Dunner and his debaucherous lifestyle they become increasingly aware that there are alien invaders among us.
So as the pitch went on the team aimed for humor, staging a Skype call with Dunne where we see a young woman is giving him a blowjob as he talks to the team. Then they showed a video of the team with Dunne going skydiving, with only socks around their cocks.
Here is the missed opportunity though. They failed to mention that Canada’s first lady of sci-fi Amanda Tapping (Stargate and Sanctuary) is attached to direct the flick. They certainly got across the bit about The Hangover but you have some veteran sci fi power attached to your project and you fail to mention her at all. And when you go to the market guide and read her statement the final sentence is, “Having spent a great deal of my career performing and directing in the science-fiction genre, I feel I can strike the right balance between humour and respect”.
Respect had to given, to Tapping.
After the formal pitches were done we were treated to a makeup test from from upcoming war/horror flick Trench 11, a proof of concept for Spare Parts by Raven Banner’s Andrew Hunt (limbs replaced by weapons), the effects sizzle reel from It Came From the Desert, and a couple other projects called The Fight Machine and Dark Fire, which I didn’t make a lot of notes on to give any comment to. Likely I was beginning to crash after the morning’s Pitch Sessions, then this showcase. I do not know how the filmmakers, producers, et al, can do this for four days and I cannot even make it through the first one without smoke pouring from my ears.