Magazine article Filmmaker

In Focus

Magazine article Filmmaker

In Focus

Article excerpt

Five new films in postproduction.


"It was spring 2003 and I'd just had to delay a film project because my lead actress became unexpectedly pregnant," says first-time feature director Gray Miller about his no-budget sci-fi drama 2K3. "I was sitting there with nothing to shoot, everyone in New York was stressed about the run-up to the Iraq war and SARS and I thought, 'What a crazy time it would be to be dealing with a surprise pregnancy?'" His resulting treatment followed a young couple in New York City's Chinatown anxiously expecting their first child and who are prey to startling visions. "On one level you have this story dealing with relationship issues and transition-to-parenthood fears," says Miller, "and then you have this jittery post-millennial tension that reflects those worries at a hyperbolic level."

Miller grew up in the Midwest, and after making his first Super 8 shorts at 9, used his paper-route money to buy a splicer, projector and a better camera. His first paid film gigs were in designing and animating parts of title sequences for films by the likes of the Coen brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson while a staffer at New York City's Big Film Design. The initial chunk of 2K3 was shot in the summer of 2003 with gaffer-turned d.p. Jon Hokanson. "Initially it was going to be a quick exercise in run-and-gun methods - a Dogma-like character study of this couple's reaction to one startling event - but I was so happy with the performances I expanded the scope and wrote an X-Files-fueled third act with a lot more action and FX," says Miller. "We shot more subplot scenes in summer '04 and did a big push with an underwater shoot in the summer of '05. We did our final shoots in 2006 with about 30 additional actors who appear in the last act."

2K3 stars Anslem Richardson of Five Deep Breaths and Marin Gazzaniga (So Close); Paul Brill (The Devil Came on Horseback) composed its score. Miller took the project to the 2006 IFP Rough Cuts Lab and is now thinking about expanding it to a Web series; he culled a six-minute pilot called Visit from the feature footage and it won its section at SXSWClick! in July. The feature is finally just about done and Miller has his sights set on a fest premiere later this year.

Bettie Page Reveals All

"Bettie (Page) is a huge icon but she's never told her story before," says doc filmmaker Mark Mori (The Fire This Time) about his new feature, Bettie Page Reveals All. "[In this film] she tells her story in her own words interwoven with behind-the-scenes stories from the best-known photographers of her image." Mori describes the film as a docu-comedy romp through '50s American pop-culture as Page, the most-photographed pinup model ever, charts the evolution of her unique mystique much as Robert Evans did in The Kid Stays in the Picture. The film also features rare footage of Tennessee senator Estes Kefauver's anticorruption crusade hearings, which targeted Page, and commentary as to her influence on such later trendsetters as Madonna, Dolce and Gabanna and Quentin Tarantino.

Mori grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., and got a history degree from Georgia State University. Political activism led him to grad work in journalism at the University of Florida and then filmmaking with the Oscar-nominated 1991 doc Building Bombs, which he co-directed and produced with Susan Robinson. Mori went on to producing roles on such varied nonfiction projects as the civil rights snapshot A Southern Town, the Sally Mann bio Blood Ties and the reality skein I'm from Rolling Stone. He has been working on the Page project since 1996 when his friend James Swanson and lawyer Bob Darwell, also Page's attorney, showed him a new book about the reclusive legend. "I got to know [Page] and she agreed to cooperate with me exclusively on a film about her life," says Mori. "She has a mysterious and captivating quality that makes the film a great deal of fun while there are serious political implications to her story as the lesser-examined twin of McCarthyism. …

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