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In the wake of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and the more recent success PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, increasing numbers of filmmakers are eschewing traditional cinematic styles in favor of literally putting cameras into the hands of their actors. One such movie is READY OR NOT, a new slasher/reality TV hybrid by writer/director Alek Lev, which has its debut screening June 23, 7:30 p.m. at the Wilshire Screening Room (8670 Wilshire Boulevard, #112) in Beverly Hills, California. See some exclusive photos below the jump.
“READY OR NOT follows five contestants in a reality show as they play hide-and-seek for a million dollars in a secluded mansion,” Lev tells Fango. “We watch them through the eyes of Alexander, a cameraman sent by the show producers to document the night.” They soon realize the game is far more sinister than they thought when they are hunted down by a masked killer, each having to fight to survive the night. While it has all the elements of a traditional slasher flick, the vérité style as well as the sendup of reality TV is intended to make the film a cut above the rest.
“The true horror in this film is that of believing that a way out of your problems is to get rich and famous on a reality show,” Lev continues. “That scares me more than Freddy or Jason. At some point in time, fame became both the means and the end, instead of just a byproduct of doing something beautiful, noble or artistic. Is the film saying that reality-show contestants should be chopped into pieces? Certainly not. But competing to the death can’t be too far away, can it? The Romans did it, and look what happened to Russell Crowe.”
But unlike GLADIATOR, READY OR NOT had a shoestring budget, requiring a tight, frantic shoot. “I’m apparently not at liberty to divulge a dollar amount, but whatever number springs to mind when you say ‘low budget,’ just cut that in half and you’re probably close,” Lev says. “We created the story to fit the budget, instead of desperately trying to find cheap ways to realize otherwise expensive ideas. Our cast of six—with one overlapping as the director/camera operator—our crew of one and our 10-day schedule kept the budgetary needs to a minimum. Limitations are good. They expand your creativity. They also really let us focus on the acting, since we weren’t spending too much time or money on anything but what the characters were doing in front of the camera.”
Fortunately, Lev had a cast of dependable actors to work with. “They’re all mostly from my backyard—our production company Hyphenate Films [CONVENTIONEERS, STRICTLY SEXUAL],” he says. “Our theory is basically that working in this intense, fast environment, it helps if the cast is already comfortable working with each other, and with the crew. It’s worth mentioning that that crew was made up of Andreas Burgess, our DP on all three of our films, and my mother-in-law, who cooked the food. We probably have the shortest credits in history.”
Outside of the LA screening, READY OR NOT’s release plans remain up in the air. “Did I not mention that we’re seeking distribution? Because we are. And something else you should know about distribution—we are seeking it,” says Lev, half-jokingly. “As for the future, I’ve got several film and television projects in development, and Trevor Murphy and I are about to unleash a new spec script to the industry—a comedy called AD HOLE, where an advertising executive magically falls into a world in which everything is as fast, furious and meaningless as the commercials he makes.” LA-area folks who want to attend the READY OR NOT premiere can find RSVP and other info at the movie’s official website.
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