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Elston Gunn Chats Up A Guy Who Made A Sci-Fi Film In His Apartment And Got Curry, Henriksen, Prepon & Lords To Star In It!!

Hello. Elston Gunn here. Chad Fifer, Tim Curry, Lance Henriksen, Chris Sarandon, Traci Lords, Laura Prepon and Danielle Fishel have lent their vocal talents to the new independent animated film THE CHOSEN ONE, directed by Chris Lackey from a script by Fifer and Lackey. In fact, Lackey didn’t just direct it. He animated the film in his Santa Monica apartment. The film will be out on DVD next month and a Comic-Con screening is set for this Friday. The story centers on a guy who has the worst day ever (loses his job, gets attacked by a bear) and is targeted by a cult, the Church of Frank, for being the chosen one, who must head to the midwest and speak to God. Many-a hurdle, including an informative limo ride with Lucifer, awaits his journey. It’s a fun little film. The natural pace, clever script, wacky ideas and voice talent make me curious what Lackey and Fifer cook up next. The animation is more SOUTH PARK than Pixar, the comedy is more FUTURAMA than SOUTH PARK, and the heart is more SCRUBS than a heartless SCRUBS. Lackey took some time to answer questions for AICN.

[Elston Gunn]: I'm sure most people want to know the obvious question: how does a guy who is making something like this in his apartment able to secure the voice talent you have? [Chris Lackey]: The first person we got attached was Chris Sarandon. He was in a short film that Chad and I worked on called A SHOGGOTH ON THE ROOF - directed by Andrew Leman of THE CALL OF CTHULHU fame - and Chad and he really hit it off. We sent him the THE CHOSEN ONE script and he loved it, so he said he would do it. Then, we made a list of people we wanted and we set our producer Andreas Olivarria off to cold call agents. Tim Curry was at the top of our list, but he passed at first. While we were looking at other folks, an animated short that I directed and Chad co-wrote with me called THE INVESTIGATORS was nominated for a DVD Premiere award. At the award show we ran into Tim's Agent, Marcia Horwitz, who seemed impressed that we were up for a nomination. She also told us that Tim's schedule has freed up (FAMILY AFFAIR got cancelled) and that was that. Marcia also suggested some other folks she represented, Traci Lords and Lance Henriksen, and we said sure. Laura Prepon and Debra Wilson auditioned for us and Danielle Fishel is a friend of mine. So, there ya go. [EG]: Curry is great. Chris Sarandon... well, I never would have recognized him. What kind of ideas did they bring to this? [CL]: When we first asked Chris do the movie we just assumed he would do Lucifer - months before we even thought about Tim. After he read the script we asked him if any part called to him and he said Zeb. Chad and I were surprised, but we really respected him and knew he could do it. And he did. He blew us away. That voice coming out of Jerry Dandrige? Amazing. Chris also really helped us out a lot. He gave great suggestions and input. He was great. Tim we only had for one day, but he knocked it outta the park. He just got it. All of our actors were amazing. I could go on and on. [EG]: What did you use to animate the project? Where did you record the sound? [CL]: The whole thing is animated in Adobe Flash and edited in Final Cut. We recorded our sound at Warren Dewey studios in Santa Monica. Warren has since retired and opened a theater in Sacramento, I believe. We did all of our post sound at Rocketwerks studio also in Santa Monica. [EG]: Where did you get the idea, not only for the story, but to set out to make an indie animated film? [CL]: Lou is this character that Chad and I have been kicking around for years. It started as a little comic book I did in high school, then Chad wrote a play in college called LOU'S THE ONLY REAL GUY. It was pretty much THE TRUMAN SHOW, but three years before that movie came out. The first animation I ever did was with Lou. He's just this character we love. SOUTH PARK: THE MOVIE really gave us the guts to just make our own feature. I never would have thought I could sit through 80 minutes of crappy animation, but if the story is good enough, the animation doesn't matter. We were just gambling on our story being good enough. [EG]: What were some of your influences for THE CHOSEN ONE? [CL]: Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman. Plus years and years of comic book and Sci-fi nerdness. [EG]: I went into it thinking it was going to be a superhero story and was surprised it had such a religious mythology to it. Did the themes come before the plot or did you work them in after the general idea was fleshed out? [CL]: The theme was first. [SPOILER ALERT] The idea of finding out that you're God and that you chose to live as a human was always amazing to me. It always seems that being all-knowing and all-powerful would be really boring. Just kind of exploring the idea of what you would do if you could do anything and it always would just lead you back to where you start. Chad and I had many a talk on a rooftop over such things - as I'm sure lots of other folks do. Then we just kinda decided Lou would work fine in the story. And the story came from there. [EG]: What have the reactions been like? Have you offended anyone? [CL]: Not that we're aware of. The screenings have all been supportive. A lot of older people really seem to like it too, which surprised me initially. But I guess the theme is pretty universal: living a human life as the best thing in the universe. We recently got an e-mail from another reviewer who says she watches it with her daughter a lot. Again, surprised. I just figured 20-something comic book geeks would be the only guys who might dig it. [EG]: I know you have a background in art/illustration. Any plans for a graphic novel tie-in or continuation, or any comics at all? [CL]: No plans, no. Fifer and I both are comic book lovers, so we would love to get into it if other projects allow us the time. Especially since self-publishing is so much easier than it used to be. We've got a 1920s Lovecraft-comedy - kind of a SOME LIKE IT HOT, but with zombies - that we would like to see as a graphic novel sometime in the future. [EG]: Would you like to do another animated film or is live action the direction you're headed? [CL]: We want to do both. We have a live action horror film that we've been trying to get made with Richard Kelly the last few years, and we've even had some traction on a sci-fi show for television. But our next animated feature is THE ADVENTURES OF MR. KICKS AND DR. GO, a super-hero type of story focusing on the 'dumb science' of radio dramas and 60s TV stuff like the Green Hornet. We're still in the early stages, but we hope to start doing web shorts and radio dramas to lead up to the feature. [EG]: How did the Richard Kelly project come about? [CL]: We got hooked up with Richard Kelly and Sean McKittrick through our agents. We've had your typical filmmaking hurdles for many, many years - lots of bad meetings, bad pitches, but we're still trying to make it happen. [EG]: How can one purchase the DVD or see it at Comic-Con? [CL]: You can pre-order the DVD at our site and many other fine stores. The movie is screening at Comic-Con... Friday, July 25 4:50-6:25pm Room 26AB Elston Gunn

Readers Talkback
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  • July 24, 2008, 12:52 a.m. CST

    Tim Curry!

    by conniebrean1


  • July 24, 2008, 1 a.m. CST

    Sounds pretty fun

    by Dangkok_Bangerous

    I shiver with antici....

  • July 24, 2008, 1:02 a.m. CST

    I'm in.

    by SkeletonParty

    I need to get my Flash and FinalCut skills up to speed.

  • July 24, 2008, 3:47 a.m. CST

    Good Job!


    I've worked on a few animations and it's a tough thing to crack even with a studio full of talent so to have a full length animated movie out there you did yourselves and with that amount of top voice talent attached is some achievement! Hope it's good.

  • July 24, 2008, 5:27 a.m. CST

    I like the Erin Esurance vibe

    by NoodlesHahn

    to the character design. Definitely worth a peek. And why doesn't Erin Esurance have a movie in the works?

  • July 24, 2008, 6:59 a.m. CST


    by Cobbio

    I'll buy the DVD. Great job, Chris Lackey!<p> Are there any giant robots or octopi?

  • July 24, 2008, 8:07 a.m. CST

    Looking forward to it

    by Drunken Rage

    Sounds like a labor of love. Good for them.

  • July 24, 2008, 8:48 a.m. CST

    Respect, guys.

    by Knuckleduster

    Making your own full length animated movies takes a hell of a lot of dedication, I imagine. Wish you lot of success. I'll be checking it out.

  • July 24, 2008, 2:58 p.m. CST

    Chris! Congrats Bro!

    by Schiney

    I woked with Chris a while back on a big project for Toyota HSD...He was still working on this film then, going on almost two years ago. Glad to see it came together, and I look forward to seeing it! Congrats!

  • July 24, 2008, 7:41 p.m. CST

    Marilyn Eating Brains?

    by reaper28

    "We've got a 1920s Lovecraft-comedy - kind of a SOME LIKE IT HOT, but with zombies - that we would like to see as a graphic novel sometime in the future" Now that's an animated feature I'd pay good money to own.