Omega has just completed its new suspense thriller ".com For Murder".
Written and Directed by Nico Mastorakis, this will be the "Rear Window" of the eGeneration.
For the story and the high-tech style of this suspenser, read the Director's interview and the story synopsis.
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A brand new thriller is now a smash hit at Omega Entertainment. This time, director Nico Mastorakis who revolutionized the low budget concept in the eighties with features like Blind Date, is using the Internet as his canvas and digital technology as his brush, painting distorted, warped and disturbing images in a suspense story that could be the 'Rear Window' of the eGeneration.
Good story, says the award-winning director, will never die, despite the tempting goods technology throws in our lap. Although we labored to find the best means for expressing the narrative visually and digitally, we spent much more time plotting and writing this three person suspense drama.
For one, the villain in '.com For Murder', is not your ordinary deranged killer. Driven by obsessive romanticism and a lost love -- which may or may only have existed in his imagination -- he assumes the identity of Werther (Goethe's tragic hero in The Sorrows Of Young Werther), combining his passion for gadgetry with his bitterness at being a mere accessory in this high-tech world.
My Werther, says Nico, is the sacrificial lamb of a galloping technology. He escapes his violent nature by delving into a world of poetic words as written by the German master. He talks Goethe, breaths Goethe, justifies his paranoia with romance and takes human life with the casual pain of self-suffering. As such, he creates an escape portal from his own deeply felt torment.
Described with the ad line In Cyberspace No One Can Hear You Scream, the movie tells the horrors of being alone and lost in the Internet. It's both a world and an underworld in and of itself says Mastorakis of the complex web society he set his dark thriller in. The web is no longer about e-mail and chat rooms, it's a multi-layered universe of minds, and some of them are not only criminal but highly capable of killing with no hesitation and from afar. Sondra, my heroine, initially feels safe enough to pick a fight live on line only to find herself in a hellish voyage of no return. The guy she thinks is some zit-faced kid, turns out to be a skilled hacker who tracks her down and delivers the most frightening night of her life.
To realize his vision, Nico Mastorakis decided to use a hybrid of conventional film and digital technology, not only to finish the picture, but to shoot it as well. Visionaries of grand scale like George Lucas have not only paved the way for other film makers, says Nico, but have also given us license to expel our prejudice against digital video as an artistic means of expression. I am using the same technology Lucas is using in 'Episode II', but instead of seeking the wonders of higher definition, I go the other way: Low-def, blurred, undefined, jagged, and frighteningly real digital images which, on the big screen, create confusion in the viewer's mind. In an explicitly shot murder scene, for instance, the viewer never quite sees enough: It's all in the killer's virtual visor and Sondra's computer screen, pixelized, grainy and drained of color. This gives it a nightmarish look, a visual doubt if you will, which suspends the audience's disbelief No, this can't be happening a disbelief identical to Sondra's.
Contrary to 'Blairwitch', we had to balance our visuals between the well-defined world of a high-tech home, full of plasma screens and elegant furnishings, and the obscured images our killer transmits via the Internet. These images represent his blurred vision of the horrendous acts he commits and are in total contrast with the superficial world that he violently penetrates. From the beginning, I saw the whole thing as 'an electronic rape' and wanted to merge the two worlds in a way that would both be equally credible and also equally frightening. So, this movie will be shot with a number of different cameras a large number, actually. While conventional film cameras shoot the action, often in blue background, digital cameras shoot the background for later compositing. It's a new, disorientation effect that will emphasize the bizarre visuals occurring inside the heroine's head. Security cameras shoot (on DV for later playback) all the action, as observed coldly and mechanically by their watchful, objective lenses. Then we use a variety of mini DVs to shoot the web sequences and even miniature cameras placed on the actor's head to shoot his POVs. We sometimes light with black light and also use passive light intensification and infrared. And we've created virtual sequences on CD Rom for real-time playback on the computer screens. In reality, .com For Murder was shot by six different units and I had to orchestrate them all as one.
The result, Mastorakis was, was a bonanza of imagery which, despite its complex origins, simplified the way the audience views the movie.
I need to get the audience in and out of the web seamlessly, emphasizes Nico, without disorienting them. Sondra should be disoriented by the constant transition between reality and virtual reality, but the audience, kept on the edge of their seat, shouldn't be made aware of the technical complexity. As in all carefully used gadgetry, ours too, produces simplicity and entertainment in a single, tightly wrapped package. After all, this is a character-driven thriller that plays more on inner fears than with the intricate technology used to illustrate those fears.
Like Coppola's 'Dracula', we also didn't expect everything to be 'fixed in post', so played constantly with light, shadows and real, on-camera effects. We've mapped out the de-colorization shots and all the effects that were added later with digital compositing. We mixed and matched film with digital seamlessly on hard drives and then took the end result back to film for the finished product.
As for working with the talent he picked, Mastorakis describes his relationship with Nastassja Kinski as equivalent to chewing razor blades, her co-star Nicollette Sheridan a professional actress while he expresses his delight for having Roger Daltrey and Huey Lewis in the movie. They were a pleasure to work with and a thrill to be directing such legends he says.
'.com For Murder' had its first screening at the Zanuck Theatre on the 20th Century Fox lot, where even Nicollete Sheridan watched the movie with her eyes closed half the time. I had read the script, I had played the part, yet it scared the living daylights out of me she said.