If Urban Nomad Film Festival, which ended last weekend, whetted your appetite for indie films, help is at hand. Taipei music club Revolver is screening four expat-produced shorts tomorrow night.
Too Late to Quit, shot in the style of a 1970s grindhouse flick, stars Brook Hall as Dr B. Savage, an anti-smoking crusader. After being disfigured by one of his patients, he begins a “vengeful, bloody assault” against both the tobacco industry and those who support it.
The movie was made by Mind Field Film Productions, established and self-financed by a group of expatriate English teachers in 2009. The company won the audience choice award at Urban Nomad in 2010 for its first short film Company Policy, “but received no response” this year for the shorts they submitted, said cofounder and director Mark Daniels.
(When asked for comment, Urban Nomad cofounder David Frazier said, “We don’t provide reasons why films are not accepted, but we do try to showcase as many films as possible.”)
“Our approach ... was to style it like an exploitation film made in the 70s with subject matter that everyone could relate to,” said Daniels. “Keep the movie short, but include all the best scenes of blood, sex and social commentary.”
The film explores what happens when “you are the guy who has to cure all these people that smoke, but nobody wants to stop, and everyone has an excuse why,” he said.
One challenge that Daniels and his coproducers faced was making Taipei look like New York, where the story takes place. They wound up filming a lot of the scenes indoors, hunting through thrift stores and friends’ closets for clothes and household items from the period. Other props, such as the TV set in the film, were built from scratch.
The weather was another obstacle: The heat of Taiwan in summer wreaked havoc on the special effects makeup used to create Dr Savage’s disfiguring burns. Hall had to be kept in an air-conditioned car during setup and brought out to shoot each scene; between takes he promptly returned to the vehicle.
The second short, Where Am I? is a sci-fi film that “explores reality and our place in it,” said Daniels, and “offers stunning imagery and food for thought.” It stars expats Brandon Thompson, an active musician and actor in Taipei, and Daniel Munns.
Both films are DIY to the core. Daniels, with partners Frans Kromhout and Francois Rousseau, handled nearly everything from producing, writing, directing and editing to the sets, props, special effects, lighting and sound. The cast comprises members of the expat theater group Taipei Players, English teachers and students. Guitarist and singer Shawn Bernie Burnalot and bassist Carolina Avila (both formerly of the flamenco band Alma Itana) composed the soundtrack for Too Late to Quit.
The other two films, Violet Kiss and Cuando Todo Haya Terminado, a music video for a band called Uke, were made by Nathan Anderson.
The films will be shown from 8pm to 10pm tomorrow at Revolver, 1-2, Roosevelt Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路一段1-2號), near Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall MRT Station (中正紀念堂捷運站), Exit 4. Admission to the screenings is free and those that attend will get free admission to the venue’s Soul, Sweat and Bass party, which follows the movies. Call (02) 3393-1678 for details or check on the Net: www.facebook/MindFieldFilm.