Movie adapts Valley beauty into film
Smoldering embers of choking campfires, beached watercraft, burned-out school bus and a pockmarked Jeep tagged with a skull and crossbones beneath a shattered windscreen is the dystopian scene that sears the senses of the “Future World” movie set.
“Future World” has made judicious use of Imperial Valley topography near Baker Lake to bring to fore the macabre post-apocalyptic vision of a story co-directed by Bruce Thierry Cheung, who cowrote a script with Jay Davis, Jeremy Cheung and based on an original story idea of James Franco, who also acts and co- directs this chilling tale.
It is set in a desolate landscape of the near future of famine, fever and near- constant war that follows the Young Prince from the Oasis (final safe haven) and a robot named Ash as they embark on a trek of self- discovery through the grim domain of the Wastelands. The movie co-stars Milla Jovovich, Method Man, Margarita Levieva, Jeffrey Wahlberg, Lucy Liu, Suki Waterhouse and Snoop Dog.
The crew has shot the last five weeks from Bombay Beach, Niland, Brawley to Baker Lake, noted Charla Teeters, Imperial County Film Commission program manager. “It’s been a great group,” said Teeters. “It’s always nice to see how film production teams utilize the Valley.”
Cheung was shooting another movie in the Valley, “Don’t Come back from the Moon” in Bombay Beach when he spotted an abandoned factory off California State Route 111 and decided it was an ideal centerpiece to film a scene around, explained Lauren Bates, co- producer.
The project is produced by Dark Rabbit Productions and AMBI will distribute the movie when editing is completed. It has been a wild ride, said Bates. “Every day is something new: Jeep stuck in the middle of nowhere, tents flying away, actors juggling schedules with other shoots, but it’s fun and challenging,” said Bates. “Dark Rabbit started out as small art films with James (Franco) buts it’s grown into feature films. I think they’re on the right path.”
“Future World” will wrap at the end of the week and go into post-production of sound effects, scoring music and visual effects but is expected to release next spring. Jay Davis producer and co- writer of the script, remarked it has been a great second time here. He worked with Bruce Cheung on “Don’t Come Back from the Moon.” For this movie what has been awesome is the illusion of a post-apocalyptic realm the Valley exudes, stressed Davis.
“We needed a location where the world was abandoned and several places around Salton Sea matched that vision,” said Davis. “It saved us a ton of money from building sets because these natural sets fit right into the story.”
Overall the shoot went very well and Dark Rabbit got a lot of value for its production budget of $2 million. “But the value we got makes it look like a much larger production,” insisted Davis. “Due to the cooperation of officials with permits and businesses looking after our trailers as well as help from Charla, we’re looking for a multicity (up to 50) theatrical release.”
Actors of “Future World” appear on the set at Baker Lake filmed by Dark Rabbit Productions in Imperial on Wednesday.