What if your life played out over and over and over again like the movie “Groundhog Day” right as you were in the process of dying? What if certain sounds, occurrences and people in the material world played certain key roles in those replays as they were occurring? And what if…what if you found out that one of your own nearest and dearest had also passed via a phone call in the material world which was also your near death world?
Writer, actor, producer and co-director Carey Dunn sets out to explore these very questions in his soon-to-be-released independent film, “The Last Files”.
Directed by Brad Bromelmeier and shot primarily in black and white, “The Last Files” marries Dunn’s tongue in cheek homage to film noir, and combines it with his fascination of science fiction and B movies. Existentialist in nature “The Last Files” gives the impression of a journey of the soul’s search for personal meaning and vindication in a Rashamon-like effect of three differing life outcomes/perspectives somewhat evocative of the driving force of the id, the ego and the superego.
Set primarily in a Private Investigator’s office, this film examines life via the career of Gary Stone P.I. played earnestly by Dunn. In it, the characters most prominently featured are his ex-wife Doris played to a forceful and riveting presence by Angela Jones of Pulp Fiction fame (in the erstwhile role of Esmarelda Villalobos), Stone’s sister-in-law Lisa played by Nina Kate, his brother Lee, by the deliciously thuggish and maniacal Dave Cobert, Stone’s high school sweetheart Tina innocently performed by AmyAitken, and Stone’s son played by Will Lowell. Each character appears in a series of life reviewing tableaus that seem to be wrapped in a love story to his only son and a quest for vindication at the accidental but psycho-emotionally unresolved death of his first love and high school sweetheart by Stone’s own hand. It is Stone’s high school-aged son who, in certain instances, seems to provoke the guilt and exoneration of this long overdue tragedy via Stone’s tortured spirit.
Whether or not our protagonist, Gary Stone is in fact a P.I. waxes indeterminate however as the occupation itself seems to be a metaphor for his investigative search in its own right for meaning and discovery in a life slowly waning.
“You chose this Gary, these people, this office, what you do for a living… You got it all Kiddo…” is the mantra of his ostensible spiritual guide Miss D, aptly nicknamed by Stone and short for “Miss Destiny”, played by a soulful and sincere Angela Nesbit. It is the scenes in between the scenes (a la silences in between musical notes) wherein Stone attempts to find clarity. Amidst a backdrop of serenely majestic floating clouds, Miss D informs him he has all the answers but has yet to ask the right question. After that, it is all just a matter of time before the audience divines the true state of Stone’s condition, to a larger picture, leading up to the character’s ultimate demise and perceived core redemption.
My wife thinks I’m crazy for saying we shot it for $500.00 but it’s true, well around that.
According to Dunn, the floating cloud effect was created via green screen and utilizes footage taken from the window of an airplane to generate an all too other-worldly, somewhat celestial vision of Limbo. “My wife thinks I’m crazy for saying we shot it for $500.00 but it’s true, well around that. We shot the office scenes in an empty gym room in our building. We also set up the green screen in that room as well as in the garage and at the director’s home. The driving footage was shot from my truck. Most of the actors were wrapped in about five hours. And we usually only had one or two on set in a given day. I fed them out of my own refrigerator and cupboard. And we own all of the equipment we used,–lights, camera, sound–including editing software. ” No permits were required as “we own part of the room with the other owners…part of owning our condo.” In total, the film took only ten days to shoot!
Years ago I remember seeing crazy folks, like me, filmmakers, on David Letterman’s show, who maxed out their credit cards to make a movie, only to wind up bankrupt and still not famous. I was sure that would be me.
Acting since the age of eight, Dunn has been perfecting his craft for years. While much of his initial background had been in sketch comedy and improv, he eventually began writing and producing his own plays beginning in 2002. Many short films, written and produced, were to follow. Dunn eventually penned a 65 minute screenplay entitled Holding Back centered around the many hours spent “in holding” as an extra. Based on a formerly written and produced play, Holding Back is “about food” he jokes, “getting food, what kind of food, getting a SAG card, becoming famous, getting lines, an agent, relationships, falling in love, hooking up—Fame, food and love essentially”. Written well before Ricky Gervais’ Extras , Dunn’s response to the inevitable comparison comes swiftly, “Extras was more of a documentary, more about him (Gervais) feeling inadequate around movie stars, trying to find his way out of mediocrity. (My film is really more of a) slice of life in the day of an extra, smoking pot, raiding food, flirting with the crew and they never go on set.”
Holding Back was shot in 2010 and was the vehicle for Dunn’s current film company “Pablo Productions” named after his beloved dog (a Pomeranian Chihuahua mix, “He’s a rescue mutt!”) and would go on to win an award for “Best Feature Film 2012” at The Angeleno Film Festival. It is currently available on Amazon.com for $1.99 streaming and $4.99 per DVD. Holding Back would be the catalyst for future full length films, namely, The Last Files. With a running time of 70 minutes Dunn confesses, “It was a short play first. But I never did it. I was confused by it…I’d read this article on the Internet talking about how your brain stays alive after your body dies and wrote it around the same time my mom passed as a play to examine that: existence and mortality. It was originally entitled Brain Matters.”
Set to be released this November, on Amazon and Itunes, (at $1.99 streaming and $4.99 per DVD) Dunn is feverishly submitting to film festivals and he almost seems stunned by the reality of it all, “Years ago I remember seeing crazy folks, like me, filmmakers, on David Letterman’s show, who maxed out their credit cards to make a movie only to wind up bankrupt and still not famous. I was sure that would be me. Don’t think so now. I’m going a more frugal route, working harder and learning more and more, in order to make yet another movie.” True to his word, he confirms, “We are now in post production for a comedy horror film called 6 Nights. Should be feature length. It’s a mocumentary like Holding Back.”
When asked where he sees “Pablo Productions” in the future Dunn simply muses, “I plan on continuing to help others produce their films and continue making my own films, improving the quality each time. At this point, practicing my Oscar speech is a waste of time. I want to grow as an artist and become a better cinematic story teller. I’m always open to new ideas and learning right along with everyone else.”
To view Carey Dunn’s work and learn more about the filmmaker, please visit his website at: http://careydunn.wix.com/careydunn