Earlier this year I received an email from an independent filmmaker, Joe McClean, asking if I would take a look at his short film How To Make A David Lynch Film before it premiered at the Dances With Films film festival in June 2011. I do not usually watch short films, or review them for that matter. I do always try and make time to watch as many non-distributed, festival bound (hopefully), independent feature length films I am asked to when approached by the filmmakers. The title of Joe McClean’s short intrigued me–how could I resist watching something called How To Make A David Lynch Film? I watched Joe’s short, and ended up writing a review of it because I absolutely loved it. How To Make A David Lynch received an honorable mention award at the festival and to my happy surprise the success, and positive reviews, have led to Joe McClean’s production company, Red and Tan Productions, to secure the financing for a feature-length film.
In true independent film fashion Joe’s road to securing financial backing for a feature length film has not been easy; and in the same fashion it has been something out of the Hollywood dream. It all started with a screenplay he wrote called “Viral” that looked to be his big break, so to speak. Everyone who read it loved it, the development stage was off to a great start, with an established casting agent on board, JC Cantu of Betty Mae Casting (Machete, The Killer Inside Me), and an excellent UPM in Jenny Hinkey (500 Days of Summer), along with lawyer Bianca Goodloe (Tomb Raider) standing strong behind Joe. Then a stall happened it casting, and “Viral” was shelved after two years–it was suggested to Joe that he make a smaller movie.
After the success of How To Make A David Lynch Film the time has come for Joe McClean’s smaller movie to be made. The word small is somewhat funny in this case because the movie sounds BIG. Writing his own script, based on an idea he has had for years, Life Tracker is the next project from Red and Tan Productions. Life Tracker is a science-fiction genre-film centered around the idea that you can see biological events in a person’s life from their DNA, as well as the coming apocalypse for a select few, or everyone. The challenges of writing and producing an “end of the world movie” on, and I quote Joe on this, “a budget that I could find in my couch cushions” takes being resourceful. Joe managed to look at what resources he had available to him at little to no cost, for instance using the faux documentary style of such films as Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield to cut down on expensive equipment costs and utilizing free locations based on where he lives ands works. All Joe needed to do was make sure Life Tracker had a compelling story, and based on the response to the script it appears Joe succeeded.
Teaming back up with lawyer Bianca Goodloe who praised the script as being the best she had read in 2011, the process of securing financial support began. Going back to the Hollywood dream mention above, Red and Tan Productions raised a third of their budget fro Life Tracker via friends, family, and the random golf buddy. The rest of the money came in the form of an angel disguised as an actress. Actress Rebecca Marshall (Saw 3D, 2012’s I Hate You Dad) was given the script via Producer Debbie Vandermeulen and loved the lead female character so much she not only wanted to play the part but produce the film with her production company Moxie Lady. Lucky for Joe he found Rebecca to be an excellent actress and was more than happy to cast her as the lead. Rebecca also brought on board NBA Star Baron Davis of Verso Entertainment and the budget was in place. Casting Director JC Cantu, who just started his own casting company, Rising Phoenix Productions, with casting director Jennifer Levy, is working on the production and has signed on Matt Dallas from “Kyle XY”. The Director of Photography attached is Jeremy Weiss who worked on Al Pacino’s documentary Wilde Salome and Tommy Aargaard will be editing the film, he has worked on such films as Thor and The Avengers.
This time for Joe there is no stalling of his project. Pre-production is well underway and cameras are set to role starting January 17th, 2012 for a roughly 30-day shoot on location in Hollywood. It is an exciting time for Joe McClean and his team of independent filmmakers and may the movie Life Tracker have an excellent production and much success on the festival circuit once completed.
The full synopsis for Life Tracker:
When Dillon decides to get off his ass and shoot some actual footage, rather than simply calling himself a documentary filmmaker, he stumbles on a little known news story about a company called Life Tracker Limited out of Spokane, Washington. The company claims it has discovered a way to predict biological events in a human’s life by looking at their DNA. Everyone views the story as a modern day form of palm reading that will go nowhere, but Dillon keeps turning on his camera when he finds articles on the Internet or hears about it on the news. Eventually there’s no choice but to continue documenting the story. It keeps getting bigger and bigger. It enters politics. It enters warfare. People all over the world are paying tons of money to see if their DNA shows any trace of disease, or future children, or when they’ll die.
With little to no resources, Dillon is left to gorilla style street interviews and filming the reactions of his small group of friends. If he had only known how close to home the new technology would hit, he would have never picked up his camera. When Dillon, his best friend Scott, and Scott’s girlfriend Bell all get their futures predicted their lives start to change… along with the world itself. Nothing is physically changed in any single person’s day-to-day life, but the ideas that have been put in people’s heads convince them to flip the world upside-down.
That’s when things start to get out of hand.
It’s predicted that anyone living in, or associated with, Belfast, Northern Ireland is going to die on September 22, 2014. But how? Could it be an act of terrorism? A natural disaster? Even scarier, not a single person to get their genetic future decoded is predicted to live past June 8, 2015.
Is it real? Is doomsday coming or is this simply another Y2K? No one knows, and all they can do is wait and see.
From the intimate relationships in our every day lives, to the literal future of the human race, nothing will ever be the same after Life Tracker.
Life Tracker Credits-To-Date (to be finalized upon production completion):
Barry Finnegan as Dillon Smith
Matt Dallas as Scott Orenhauser
Rebecca Marshall as Bell Skinner
Chas Mitchell as Rocko Hutchensen
Joe McClean – Writer/Director
Sarju Patel – Producer
Debbie Vandermeulen – Producer
Baron Davis – Executive Producer
Rebecca Marshall – Executive Producer
Jeremy Weiss – Director of Photography
Tommy Aargaard – Editor
Casting Directors – JC Cantu and Jennifer Levy (Rising Phoenix Casting)
Deserae Barajas – Makeup
Meghan Anderson – Costumes
More information on Red and Tan Productions may be found at the website: Red and Tan Productions
To read the review of Joe McClean’s How To Make A David Lynch Film, and to watch the short, go here.