Do you have the sneaking suspicion that the grossly overhyped The Blair Witch Project is about to send a spate of college drop-outs flooding into the woods across from their parents' homes with cameras and credit cards in tow? Or that a score of video-store clerks have forced their reluctant girlfriends into training so the women can run a mile each take for four different takes and help the aspiring directors in their lives hitch onto Run Lola Run's wagon?
Dallas filmmakers John Castarphen and Becky Rice have watched the strangling homogeneity of the American indie scene with some amusement for more than a decade. Like them, most of us grew up with Hollywood product, so we've come to expect a box-office hit to multiply like a virus and infect other commercial projects. Presumably, that was supposed to be, in part, what an American independent film scene would react against. Perhaps too many young independent writer-directors have been trained by childhood moviegoing habits to huddle together in this herd mentality -- or is something more sinister behind America's indie repetition?
Castarphen and Rice recently took FLMKR, their satirical conspiracy thriller-horror film, to Cannes on invitation. It's a sly, twisty-turny little comedy featuring a cast of almost exclusively Dallas stage actors -- Linda Coleman, James Kille, Susanna Guzman, Juan Fernandez, Jeanne Everton, Marc Hebert, Carl Savering, and Angela Wilson, among others -- that features a paranoid filmmaker (Coleman) who sets about to make a documentary and hopefully discover why it is that our hot-shit young filmmakers are lining up like captured soldiers and marching eagerly into a burial pit of mediocre imitation. As she finds answers and still more questions, the people in her life begin to disappear around her.
Castarphen and Rice cuff the ears of testosterone-addled Taranteenies, self-righteous lesbian lenswomen, whiny stage actors, and a host of other cinematic fringe-dwellers who believe their art is solely in the eye of the camera holder. Movie genres from the documentary to the slasher flick get slapped around pretty good too. FLMKR was shot in and around Dallas utilizing only local artists and techies, but the range of its targets stands much further afield.