Category Archives: Sci Fi Sol

Interview with Artist Dave Asher at Chicago Filmmakers

Dave Asher as Melody Nife in SCI FI SOL

Dave Asher as Melody Nife in SCI FI SOL

Friday Night VOLUME at Chicago Filmmakers kicked off it’s 2014 run with a January jam-packed with ray guns, video game car chases, super hero dance battles, and an album of music the Chicago Journal called, “a brilliant slice of bedroom pop, infectiously catchy and rough around all of the right edges”.  All of this, courtesy of featured attraction SCI FI SOL, the music video fantasy adventure.

The final screening packed an especially rare whollup, as it was announced that the original album of music that inspired and scored the movie would, in fact, not be heard.  Instead,  the movie was played alongside the upcoming new album by Sci Fi Sol creator Melody Nife.

Joseph R. Lewis interviews Dave Asher, AKA Melody Nife, AKA musical director of legendary Chicago comedy theatre iO and artist behind the music of Sci Fi Sol, the music video fantasy adventure.
Recorded live on January 31st, MMXIV as part of Friday Night VOLUME, a series programmed by Jake Weisman at Chicago Filmmakers.

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If You Want to Know What The Underground Multiplex is All About, Come to Our Series on Friday Nights in January

by Legendary Lew

Earlier Effort by Joe

Starting tomorrow night at Chicago Filmmakers, The Underground Multiplex will be presenting what will be, in fact, perhaps the most comprehensive overview of what we’ve been up to since our inception in November 2010.

Back then, director Joseph R. Lewis and I had this crazy notion that perhaps we should begin an internet media co-operative that focused on the greatness of independent underground entertainment. We further emphasized that Chicago had to be the main focus of our attention, as we believe (and still do) that the decentralization of entertainment, with the advent of the internet, can help bolster each different region’s importance in the arts. Spreading this idea could keep very talented Chicago artists home, instead of fleeing to NYC or LA for the temporary fix of finding work that immediately pays something.

Film genius Ernie Tarte will be there for Strike That Line! 1/24

Film genius Ernie Tarte will be there for Strike That Line! 1/24

Joe had already made a number of films for over a decade. One of those films, The Adventures of Miss Girl, gets its world premiere tomorrow night along with Sci Fi Sol, which makes its return to Chicago screens this year.

However, this Friday series–dubbed “Friday Night VOLUME“–will present a fuller menu of what TUGM has to offer. As we progressed over the years, we’ve learnedQUEEN B XOX to perfect (out of necessity) presenting a variety of experiences for little money. As will be the case with VOLUME, we’ll have films, vaudeville-type entertainment, a varied music soundtrack, live Q&A and live performances (including Dr. Dredd’s Wagon of Wonders and the first-ever live presentation of the radio comedy Strike That Line!

Please join us! Check this link for the entire line-up. Head over to Chicago Filmmakers to purchase pre-show tickets.

 

Party Premiere Announces Online Release

“A brilliant slice of bedroom pop, infectiously catchy and rough around all of the right edges…A wild, rag-tag, day-glow world that exists both a millennia ahead of present time and one step in the past. Every frame is filled with wonders that are easily recognizable, yet slightly out of place. Like an antique store in the future…Not to be Missed.”
-Chicago Journal

On July 26th, we celebrated the online release of the uninterrupted 47-minute director’s cut of Sci Fi Sol.  And what better way to kick it off than with our 2nd annual house party at Star Labs.

Noble Square’s own Professor Weinsteiner concocted an exclusive party beer-brew, giving the event a distinct and unforgettable flavor. Fashion designer MxMiJe@n$ unveiled Wonder Women, his new original couture leather jacket.   Director Joseph R. Lewis introduced SFS’s party-premiere screening with a live-performance as Captain Famous accompanied by an original VJ set by Jeffy Cymbals.  Many thanks to Brian Jarreau for the stellar photo coverage.

Sci Fi Sol began production in early 2011 and shot for over a year throughout the beautiful city of Chicago.  Many soon-to-be-razed Chicago landmarks were included in the movie, including the last remaining tower of Cabrini Green and legendary comedy club Improv Olympic, where songwriter and star Melody Nife moonlights as Musical Director.

Check out Xclusive Pix from our XTRACT PARTY below~

XOX

Ken Levine is Wrong: Zach Braff Should Be Forced to Use Kickstarter. Here’s Why…

Make him do it.

Make him do it.

Ken Levine wrote a blog post that went viral about how Zach Braff shouldn’t use Kickstarter, because he’s too well connected to use a fundraiser site meant for the starving artist. I understand the argument, but this notion that Kickstarter is cloaked in some golden glow of altruism is rather laughable.

Kickstarter is fundraising tool, not a shrine shut off to all but members only. Of course someone well off is going to eventually try his or her hand at it, if not Zach Braff, then someone else. Mr. Levine also has to remember that Kickstarter is not only used by struggling artists, but also by those who want investors for new products. Indeed, one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns is for an E-Paper Watch, which garnered over 10,000% of the original goal.  It’s ludicrous to believe that tech companies won’t take notice and, if they do, expect to be warded off by hordes of  “indie investors” or their supporters crying foul.

If Ken Levine is so incensed by a well-off Hollywood type asking for money, then the best advice is the one he’s already following: don’t give money.  There are Kickstarters that fail–I would introduce Ken to the wonderful and hilarious Shitstarter, which compiles truly awful Kickstarter campaigns. If starry-eyed people want to waste their hard-earned dollars on big name projects, because they naively hope, as Levine infers, that they’ll hobnob and dine with the Hollywood elites, let them. To quote Suzanne Finnemore, “Delusion detests focus and romance provides the veil.”

I am, in fact, completely in favor of more transparency with investment monies given to movies. I want Zach Braff, Harvey Weinstein or any other Kickstarter recipient to answer from groups of investors when he makes a shitty movie. Having Kickstarter investors actually feel the loss of a bad investment I think is a good thing. Hollywood films are so divorced from your own artistic hunger and are so perfectly and systematically distanced from you personally that your only recourse for bad cinema is badmouthing it to your friends, skewering it publicly on blogs or asking for your money back from the cinema (good luck with that).

You shouldn’t have to hound the theater for your $12 back. You and other fellow investors should be able to follow the producer in every public appearance and ask why he took your investments and turned them in dogshit. Turn his next PR appearance into a townhall meeting shitstorm demanding your investment back. You probably won’t get it, but the headlines will certainly bite the producer in the ass. Let those producers know that if they invest via Kickstarter, they’ll be playing a different game. Not one which checks are written in closed rooms without a second thought given to the outcome, but instead one where the producers will be quite intimidated by average Joes to whom they’ll have to answer.

Levine is right about helping out independent filmmakers whenever possible. It’s a great idea. But even here, he misses the point on how to best do this.

Just as you can do for your produce, for the best arts results–go local.

Here in Chicago, I know two filmmakers who made feature length films for very little money. They, instead, used the time, energy and geniuses of other talents to make great looking films like The Pink Hotel and Sci Fi Sol (disclosure: the latter film is a production of this site, The Underground Multiplex).  Chris Hefner, the director of The Pink Hotel and the upcoming The Poisoner, told me in an interview that he made both features for practically nothing. Instead of a lot of cash, he bartered goods and services and even gained the assistance of an alderman who knows the value of having great art created locally.

The biggest mistake we can keep telling future filmmakers is that the only way to make feature films is to chase money. Don’t get me wrong, Kickstarter and other online fundraisers are great. But convincing artists that this method, or pitching movies with the big boys via festivals are the only ways to get your movie made is being disingenuous.  With technology and resources available to make movies very cheaply (we made Sisters of No Mercy 3D, a feature-length film for less than $200), this endeavor is open to more people with more ideas and more stories to tell than ever before. The real trick is to get the audience deeply engaged and the best way to do that is to find your local artists and filmmakers, meet them and support them and your local indie theaters.

Lew Ojeda
(I’ll be presenting a wild show on Saturday night, May 11th in Chicago, “The Ben & Arthur Interactive Cinematic Experience, or Can a Cult Movie Sensation Be Created?” Click on this link for more details and to attend. Click on this link for the promo video.)

How to Make an Epic Movie on a Shoestring

BACKGROUND~
SCI FI SOL is adapted from the album of the same name produced in 2003 in Amsterdam by indie electro-pop wunderkind MELODY NIFE.

Originally conceiveLuv Ur Shade TRAX ICONd as a soundtrack for an imaginary science fiction epic, SCI FI SOL (The Movie) was a dream nearly abandoned before MELODY NIFE met underground moviemaker JOSEPH R LEWIS while they were both touring the United States performing educational theatre for schoolchildren.

JRL & MN began a close friendship and occupied idle times by discussing what a possible SCI FI SOL movie adaptation may look like.  After many years of daydreaming, they agreed to undertake the mission of creating “the most epic no-budget science fiction fantasy of all time.”

SCI FI SOL was shot as a silent movie and uses the original album of music, played from beginning to end, as the entirety of the movie’s soundscape.  It is being released online for free as a music video adventure series and you can watch it RIGHT HERE wheneva U  want.  Trailer below:

NOTES FROM JRL~
“Getting Loaded” is my fave song on the album.  I think it’s one of Melody Nife’s very best tunes, and out of a catalog of hundreds – that’s something.  I’d always thought it had an eerie anthemic quality, like good Pink Floyd.  When we went into production, I reserved it a special place in my heart and my mind.

QUEEN B XOXWriting sessions usually consisted of Nife talking, me listening, and then me saying back to him what I heard.  He often disagreed with what I had to say.  In this way we were able to quickly discern our disparate ways of thinking and conceptualizing material.  I would take the ideas we dished about and write out sections of the screenplay and send them to him and we would argue and then I’d rewrite and then we’d argue less and eventually we weren’t arguing anymore.  Time-wise the writing process went pretty quick, maybe 5 months from start finish- But we went through more drafts than any script I had ever written before.

For instance:
Nife kept talking about these images for “Getting Loaded”:  students rising from their desks and walking out of class, empty offices like deserted ruins,  throngs of people spilling out into the streets and heading toward the beach.

Since the goal was to make an epic sci-fi movie without money, I would mull over the images Nife suggested and distill them down to their emotional content.  And then I’d just wait until I thought of something that would 1) express the same emotion 2) fit in the world 3) be possible.Emily Tunnel

For me, the song was about needing to separate from the world that is, and pursuing a world that could be.  Freedom, I guess.  Since we couldn’t do big crowd stuff or expansive exteriors due to our resources,  I thought it would be a good idea to magnify our focus and show scenes of individuals experiencing this captivity.  This was how I usually side-stepped the “problem” of not having much to work with:  Instead of shrinking the idea down I would magnify the focus and give my performers the responsibility  of creating the feeling of bigness and epic-itude that I needed.

Babydoll TRAX ICONI didn’t storyboard SCI FI SOL as I did with SCUMBABIES.  Each movie existed in a fantasy world, but instead of a single location SCI FI SOL took place throughout a whole CITY!   I knew that the bigness we wanted to pull off would require a completely different kind of shooting style, where my eyes would need to be WIDE open on set and always hunting for found material and the right kind of in-the-moment image that would hopefully make the movie feel like bigger than it really was.

For this reason “Getting Loaded” was particularly fun to shoot.  We shot the entire video in a single day in a single huge room.  The scenes and the images built themselves up piece by piece, and I never had any idea what it was going to look like until the cameras were rolling.

XOXJRL

KASEY FOSTER is Chicago’s QUEEN B

QUEEN B XOXKasey Foster moved to Chicago in 2004.  She received her degree in Theatre and Dance from hometown college, Indiana-Purdue University of Fort Wayne. Over the last 9 years she has cultivated a reputation as one of Chicago’s most talented and respected underground theatre stars.

Kasey_Foster_1_loresShe has worked with Redmoon Theater often, performing in their annual Winter Pageants as well as Boneyard Prayer, The Princess Club, Once Upon a Time, and The Golden Truffle.  She has also worked with Dog n Pony, Collaboraction, Red Tape, Adventure Stage, and The Anatomy Collective.  Foster sings with local bands This Must be the Band, Grood, and The Dangerous Strangers.   Kasey has produced and choreographed variety shows at Martyrs’ and High Concept Labs including her original long-form dance pieces “Assignment #403” and “Dance Tribute to Mr. Bungle”. She has choreographed middle school productions of Bye Bye Birdie, Grease, and Fiddler on the Roof.  She is also a producer of Chicago talk show The Monthly Visit with Kevin O’Donnell.  She stars as Queen B in the music video adventure series SCI FI SOL.

How has the city of Chicago shaped your career as a choreographer and performer?

As a choreographer, Chicago has provided me with a bounty of talented people and opportunities to carry out my mad plans. As a performer I’ve learned a wide spectrum of performance styles, because you can find it all in Chicago. Devised to traditional to puppetry to clown to musical.  I feel that this experience is unique to Chicago.

Why is dancing important? 

Because everyone loves it. And they always will.


SCI FI SOL was your first large-scale movie production experience. Did the shoot leave any lasting impressions on you?

I was amazed to see the amount of details put into every shot.

How would you describe SCI Fi SOL? 

A masterpiece : )

When you host a party or produce an event what are you primary concerns? 

I’m most concerned with entertaining people.

Top three fave snack foods? 

Chips. Nuts. Grapes.

MOM LOVED BEACHES XOX

The beach will always remind me of my Mother.  She was a mermaid who loved the crash of the waves along the ocean shore.  The night before she died we stayed up quite late.  She always loved late nights with her boys.  But by evening’s end it was clear that a long, peaceful rest was long overdue.

Mom and I in California in 2008

I tucked her in on the living room couch, nestled cozily beneath a beautiful white blanket her grandmother had knitted for her some forty years ago.  I pulled a chair up beside her and held her hand and we closed our eyes together and suddenly we were in Havana.

We had been visiting Havana regularly since the first diagnosis.  After they found the tumor it became difficult for Mom to sleep.  Talking about the dreams we were going to have became a way to wind down at the end of the day.  Often, we dreamed of going to Havana.

DSC00808I was standing on the wooden boardwalk that lines a particularly lively strip of beach in Havana.  It was night and I was facing the waves and the full moon.  Music was floating out from the cafes and nightclubs behind me.  I saw my Mother, 20 years old, laughing wildly with her best friend, Jan.  They looked beautiful and lively and handsome young men surrounded them.  I was wearing a white Naval uniform and I walked up to them and we talked and drank.  The music was fast and we danced like old friends at a last hurrah.  From the dance floor I looked back out at the beach and the moon.

I saw my mother, 14 years old, standing barefoot in the sand.  I was standing beside her.  She closed her eyes and took a deep, fresh breath as the water washed over her toes.  She was bathed in blue moonlight.

I looked up at the moon and it seemed to fill the whole sky.  It was my Mother’s face and I was a baby in her arms.  I looked up at her with my tiny eyes and I knew that she loved me.

Noona Mermaid

“Noona Mermaid Goes to Heaven” by Nephew Zed

And then we were on the beach again but she was older and weaker and in pain.  I held her against my chest and rocked her back and forth in rhythm with the crashing of the waves.

And then we are sitting beside one another.  She is 5 years old and I am 5 years old.  She is hitting herself and crying.  She is upset that her body isn’t bigger and stronger.  I tell her that she will be stronger when she doesn’t need her body anymore.  She stops crying and looks up at me and smiles.  We look up at the night sky and there is a brilliant constellation above us in the shape of a Goddess holding a sword standing guard over the Universe.

In the living room my mother squeezes my hand and I awake.  I call for my brother Jon, and we sit with her as she passes, peacefully in her home.

Miss you, Mom.

XOX

Dream Illustration by Brother Gabe

Dream Illustration by Brother Gabe