Upcoming “Way Down in Chinatown”

“A playwright and his director wife are trying to produce a great play, while the world around them is slowly ending.”

The movie’s acting, settings, and effects give the audience a sense of being at an actual play.   When we meet the playwright Victor Mitchum (Justin Dray) and his wife/director Jessica Mitchum (Stephanie Sanditz) we see how passionate they are about each other and dedicated to their work.   They receive funding to start production of their new great play.  They get so involved with their play that not even the world coming to an end will stop them.  Even though they have a great relationship, their marriage is tested throughout the movie.

Eric Michael Kochmer, WDiC’s writer, director, producer, and actor (Ken) provides an intriguing description of how WDiC came about.

ERIC: WDiC came from a play that I wrote about 7 years ago when I first moved to LA from New York called “Annie’s having a Chinese Baby and the Goddamn War’s Coming!” It was about a successful musical theater writer that was looking for his estranged girlfriend the day after 9/11 in Chinatown in New York City. He brings with him his secretary. They break into the apartment (which has no power) and make a big dinner while they wait for her to get home. Her new Chinese boyfriend comes accompanied by a homeless Vietnam Vet. Arguments ensue.

I never did anything with the play for about five years. The few people I showed it to didn’t really like it but I always thought something could be done with it. In August of 2011, I had been trying to get a good story to make a film out of, something that could be done for a small budget. So I thought of just turning the play into the film. I changed 9/11 to the Apocalypse (9/11 stories are too much these days I think they fall into a certain category and get ignored) and had Stephanie Sanditz and Justin Dray (the two leads) come over to my apartment and read it. They sounded great but the characters needed a lot of work especially Stephanie’s as we eventually made her Justin’s equal which worked a lot better and made the story about both of them. This took a lot of drafts and meetings with Stephanie and Justin but close to the end of the year I was close and that’s about when I brought Maria on and shortly after John and James. The atmosphere and the style kept on building in the script all the way into pre-production, in fact a lot of my stylistic choices came from not having a lot of money and from studying 1920’s horror films.

Shortly after the story is setup, things get zany, starting off with the auditioning.   It may appear like bad acting, but its good acting.  No disrespect, but directors and producers constantly deal with inexperienced actors auditioning. Heck, we see it all the time on “American Idol” and “The Bachelor.”  Therefore, the actors acting bad during the auditioning scene was good acting (clear as mud?).

 

Maria Olsen of MOnsterworks66 plays the role of Bob.  She and Eric, are two of the producers of WDiC and starred as the freaky, yet comical producers in the film.  How did Maria get involved with WDiC?

MARIA: I had briefly worked with Eric on the development of one of his earlier scripts – after answering a posting on Craigslist of all things! – and so when he asked me to come on board WDiC to help get it made, I signed up as soon as I read the script. From the very first page, I could see that the script was special and that the film, once made, would be absolutely unique!

 

Regarding their acting together, they completely compliment each other.

MARIA OLSEN: Eric’s and my chemistry as Ken and Bob was apparent from the very first time we sat down in costume and shot the fundraising promo video. Acting together was simply awesome, and we had a LOT of fun! I would come into a scene with a specific performance in mind, and would then just build on it depending on what he threw at me. We had some very special moments indeed during the rehearsal and shooting process, and I’m glad that’s coming through in the film!

 

As a fan of bizarre movies, this one gets really whacky which sucked me in.  Not spoiling it, but here’s a few moments to watch for:

– Two women and a worm

– Tons of sinister laughing

– Tears after masturbation

– Worm education

– A frequent “apocalypse” flashing and ear piercing tone was startling at first, but being filmed like a play, I felt it was a stage type effect that worked well.

As we get near the end and things start to unravel, Jessica and Victor’s relationship may be the strongest it has ever been. Considering what they dealt with throughout the movie, they had to stick together.

Jessica, during their tough times was comical when she’d get mad at Victor’s horrible cough.  She reacted the same way a true wife would after dealing with a husband’s cough that he refuses to get treated.

If you enjoy the stage, the bizarre, witty and quirky dialogue, you will enjoy “Way Down in Chinatown.”

Goodnight Irene!

 

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