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Midwestern Filmmakers to Premier New Sci-Fi Flick






For Immediate Release

January, 2004

Minneapolis, MN

INSIDE PLANETFALL

PLANETFALL is the second feature from Minneapolis-based Carschool Film-O-Rama.
A micro-studio that has been making independent films in the Twin Cities since
1994, Carschool was formed by Wisconsin expatriates Michael Heagle, Raymond
Whalen, and Troy Antoine LaFaye.

The first project out of the gate at Carschool was the feature-length 16mm
project
GO TO HELL. GO TO HELL started lensing in 1994, picked up again in 1997, and was

posted in 1998 and 1999, finally debuting in October of 1999. In 2000, Writer-
director Michael Heagle handed a copy of the picture to Lloyd Kaufmann,
president of
NYC’s Troma Entertainment and the director of such midnight-movie perennials
as
THE TOXIC AVENGER and CLASS OF NUKE’ EM HIGH.

GO TO HELL was released on DVD nationally in April of 2004.

“Getting the first film on shelves has been an incredible battle,” says
director Michael
Heagle. “First, the studio that picked it up, Troma, was fully prepared to sit
on it
forever. They had little or no desire to put it out: there was no money
exchanged up
front, so they had nothing in to it. There are no name actors in it, and as such
no
built-in audience. What I found out from the process is that, unlike an art
where you
are supposed to make something that is heart-felt and meaningful to you and you
alone, you can’t just make a film for yourself. How egotistical! Here, self,
here’s a
forty-thousand dollar love letter, or a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar
love
poem to me. Fuck you. You absolutely need to think about the where that audience
is.
You’re only a storyteller if someone’s listening.”

“We complain a lot about Hollywood movies, but there’s a reason they are the
way
they are. And it’s a question of commerce. When you get a certain amount of
the
corporation’s money into a product, you are obliged to make that money back
and
more. So films are built on fear in Hollywood. Fear of not being accepted by the

biggest possible market share, and that cowardice results in a lot of
unchallenging
films and some pretty safe storytelling. It shouldn’t be that way, but films
are not like
writing poetry or something, you spend tons of money, and the tools are priced
to
keep the artist out.”

To Heagle, that fiscal fear is something that he also has been forced to face.
“For us
to put $40,000 into a picture is absurd. It’s just like a $200 Million Dollar
picture for
the majors, it represents that same type of risk. GO TO HELL is like a ISHTAR
albatross around my neck. I have been paying off GO TO HELL for almost ten
years,
I’m closer to making that debt disappear, but there’s absolutely no money
coming in
from DVD distribution.”

“Troma, even though they are a known commodity to a certain strange cross
section
of the public, has a hell of a time getting their product on shelves. Most major

retailers won’t carry it, because it represents some kind of outré mind set
that scares
folks. Forget WAL-MART and Blockbuster, of course, but even fairly progressive
corporations like Best Buy aren’t going to put a lot of risk into carrying
that kind of
stuff. Sure, they’ll stock your basic hits from Troma, things like Trey
Parker’s
CANNIBAL THE MUSICAL are safe, but titles like GO TO HELL have about six weeks
to
prove themselves on shelved before they are sent back to the fulfillment
company.
And for a company like Carschool with a film like GO TO HELL, you have no chance
at
all to build any kind of audience. So there’s no money coming back in. And
with a
40,000 film that hurts. That’s why we did PLANETFALL in the manner we did.”

“We even had to take on the responsibility of authoring the DVD, something
that you
can do on the desktop now if you have some design skills and some decent
software.
Instead of waiting for Troma to go drop ten grand on an authoring facility in
Canada
that didn’t know anything about our film, we created all the menus and extra
content.
Who better to do that? I am thrilled with the state of digital filmmaking,
it’s identical
to the revolution that occurred in desktop publishing with the rise of the
Macintosh.
We’re making broadcast-quality, competitive features at home on PCs and if the
film
making skill is there they look pretty good. That is something to be said for
having
muddled our way through a legitimate film on FILM, it makes you very serious
about
when you push that button. That’s what’s missing from a lot of the young DV
makers,
the discipline of having to deal with celluloid, the way when you press that GO
button
on a 16mm camera it’s like opening a vein.”

PLANETFALL is something of an anomaly. It is a no-budget film AND it’s
jam-packed
with visual effects. It is a spaghetti western AND it is a sci fi film. It’s a
film, and it’s
DV. By excluding film on PLANETFALL and putting the money in front of the
camera,
the studio effectively shaved a whole zero off the end of the budget. “This is
before
deferrals of course,” says Heagle diplomatically, “and it’s fun to try to
say this is a
$7,000 movie like EL MARIACHI, but it is totally on the cheap. It’s a cheese
sandwich
western. We couldn’t even afford the spaghetti.”

PLANETFALL began as a collaboration between filmmakers from Minnesota and
Wisconsin in 2001. Rather than sit on their laurels waiting for something to
happen
with distribution on their first film, the producers at Carschool decided to
make use
of emerging technologies and create something that was unusually ambitious for a

Midwestern indie film.

Though PLANETFALL is a DV feature, the casual viewer is not likely to notice
that.
“Rather than doing the safe thing, and make a DV film that takes advantage of
DV as
a medium, we tried to really use it as ‘Film Substitute,’” says Heagle.
“This isn’t
something like OPEN WATER that lets DV be DV and revels in the roughness of it,
this
is just a digital film. It probably should have been HD or something, but after
the GO
TO HELL credit card bills, there was no other choice. As a result of that
frustration, we
have forced this technology to respond the way we wanted to. Part of that is the
post-
production process, where we applied a series of visual treatments that are not
off
the shelf ‘film look’ filters but more like a digital intermediate process
that is being
used in features today.”

Additionally, since the film would be set in the far future on a planet that
doesn’t
exist, having footage that would be computer-accessible at any point during the
post
production process was a must. In the end, every shot in PLANETFALL is
manipulated
in some way. Like a no-budget STAR WARS EPISODE ONE, each frame went through
either the “digital intermediate” process where it was given a “look,”
or received a
more substantial treatment.

The film features dozens of digital matte paintings, numerous “videophone
communication” styles and looks, and a number of “rigid-body” animated
sequences
(3D vehicles and buildings, rather than animated characters). As of press-time,
the
shot count is not in, but has reportedly already passed the mark set by the
original
Star Wars film in 1977 (about 150). This, however, is in an era where most
“effects
films “are hitting shot counts that over one thousand. The LORD OF THE RINGS
trilogy
is a good example, where the shot count doubled in each subsequent sequel (300,
to
700, to 1500 FX shots).

PLANETFALL was primarily shot in Minnesota, but included stunning locations in
Wisconsin and Las Vegas Nevada. The Wisconsin shoot occurred over a series of
weekends and took place at a limestone rock quarry in the sleepy small town of
El
Paso. “It’s fun to say we shot a spaghetti western in El Paso, then pause
and add
WISCONSIN. But if you look back at those Sergio Leone pictures like THE GOOD THE

BAD AND THE UGLY that really informed this movie, they were shooting in Almeria,

Spain and passing it off as Mexico. We’re making Wisconsin an alien planet. I
was an
avid viewer of DOCTOR WHO on Channel 10 in Milwaukee during the eighties. I
learned a lot about telling fantasy stories on a budget by watching that show,
but the
one thing that continually impressed me was using quarries and rocky English
beaches as alien worlds. That stuck with me in a big way. That and rubber headed

aliens.”

The film will be shown at Stone Arch Cinemas St. Anthony Main Theater in
Minneapolis starting February 4th 2005. This exclusive one-week engagement will
take advantage of new exhibition technology, and be presented in DLP and Dolby
Digital 5.1 from a digital master. For information visit Carschool
Film-O-Rama’s
website at www.carschoolfilms.com.

PLANETFALL

SYNOPSIS

When a military transport crash lands on a war-torn planet, competing factions
seek
the last, lost stockpile of the illicit psychic-power enhancing drug Psylenol.
Mercenary
Lux Antigone rekindles a shaky relationship with former partner Shark Sterling,
and
forges an alliance with a mysterious female bounty hunter in her quest to find
the
shipment. Aligned against them are a misfit army garrison, a shady presidential
attaché, and the psychotic former members of the elite military unit that
developed
the drug for war.

Set against a backdrop that combines the apocalyptic worldview of the MAD MAX
trilogy with the lawless antihero psychology of the Sergio Leone spaghetti
westerns,
PLANETFALL packs a visual effects-packed science fiction punch.


CREDITS: PLANETFALL

DIRECTOR: GIANNI MEZZANOTTE
PRODUCER: MICHAEL HEAGLE
ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS: TROY A. LAFAYE, MATT SAARI
WRITTEN BY: MATT SAARI AND MICHAEL HEAGLE
EDITED BY: MICHAEL HEAGLE
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: VITTORIO SALVATI
VISUAL EFFECTS BY D.I.C.E. GROUP
MUSIC BY JONATHAN HEAGLE


LUX ANTIGONE HEIDI FELLNER

WENDY STANTON LEITHA MATZ

SHARK STERLING SNYPE MYERS

GORTON "UGLY" HEX ALAN STRUTHERS


LIEUTENANT THOSWORTH/DELTA PSION BILL BOREA

SARGEANT LITA MAVICK/GAMMA PSION CARA ULRICH

LIEUTENANT CUMBERLAND TROY ANTOINE LAFAYE

LIEUTENANT JERIK/ALPHA PSION CHARLES HUBBELL


CARSON FLETCHER ELIJAH DRENNER

PRESIDENT ARCH STANTON TED V. MIKELS


SECTION COMMANDER RUSTY ARNTZEN CHAZ TRUOG

PFC BURTON LILES JEREMY STOMBERG

PFC SHAKEY LAVELLE RAYMOND P. WHALEN


GEN. TIRA CORONA RENEE WERBOWSKI



SYRUS THEED TYREL VENTURA


ANGRY VIDEOPHONE ALIEN JOHN ANTHONY BLAKE (JOHN
LEVENE)


BROTHER LEE EDWIN STROUT

BROTHER CASH LANCE MILLER

BROTHER FINGER SHAWN MACPHERSON

STANDOFFISH SOLDIER TOM PUFF

BRAIN DAMAGED SOLDIER JAMES ERIC CULLUM


NIGHT SOLDIER 1 MICHAEL LAWRENCE HARRIS

NIGHT SOLDIER 2 BRYAN WRIGHT


APOLOGETIC VILLAGER CHRISTIAN AHLGREN-WILLIAMS

ANGRY VILLAGER DIANE SIEBER

VILLAGERS GUY
THERESA WINGE

VZ TRADER CORVUS ELROD

MACHINATA PRIESTESS KAALIX ABIGAIL AVILA

MACHINATA STEPHANIE GOULD
WENDY INCE

EMILIO JAMES BURTON

TUCO THOMAS BILSTAD


FILMMAKER BIO

Michael Heagle considers himself a fantasy filmmaker. Growing up in rural
Wisconsin,
he found that he preferred entertainment that transported him as far away as
possible. Like many children, a fascination with creatures and dinosaurs quickly

translated to an interest in films, fueled by a golden matinee era when Ray
Harryhausen’s creature epics still graced the screens and GODZILLA features
ran on
rainy Saturday afternoons. Claiming JAWS and KING KONG as the ones that started
it
all, Heagle knew that he’d be making movies, not films, for a living.

Exposed to such pulpy science fiction delicacies as Edgar Rice Burroughs and the

British television series DOCTOR WHO by his grandfather at a formative age,
Heagle
honed his fantastic tastes during the heyday of 1980’s science fiction
classics, citing
films like BLADE RUNNER, THE TERMINATOR, THE ROAD WARRIOR as those with the
greatest psychological impact. The later realization that the enjoyment level of
a film
was rarely commensurate with its production cost stemmed from exposure to shows
like WHO, and movies like Burrough’s LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, in which Doug
McClure fought rubber dinosaurs (the effects for which were mostly accomplished
with " gulp -- hand puppets) with a grim aplomb.

Obtaining his degree in film from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee proved a

challenge, since his professors were largely experimental, installation, and
documentary filmmakers who looked sideways at his attempts at horror and science

fiction. One such project included a psychopath-at-a-toga-party comedy shot with

AMERICAN MOVIE’s Mark Borchardt as cinematographer. Most were characterized by

as much DIY production value as Heagle could wring from his part time job and
supportive parents.

After graduation, Michael and collaborator Raymond Whalen set out to make the
leap
into feature filmmaking, barely beating the arrival of DV onto the scene with
the
16mm feature GO TO HELL in 1999. With production and post production taking
place over a four year period, GO TO HELL tells the story of tabloid news
reporter
Dario Dare, who, in the search for the ultimate supernatural cover story,
becomes
embroiled in a supernatural assassination plot involving a Roman Catholic
cardinal
and a demon from hell. Dubbed “JFK meets THE EXORCIST,” the film received
play at
the Wisconsin Film Festival, was a featured selection at the Festival of
Fantastic Films
at Manchester, England, and was nominated for a D.L. Mayberry Award for Best
Feature Film. In 2004, the film was released by New York’s Troma
Entertainment,
home of THE TOXIC AVENGER.

Currently, Heagle is a full time faculty member of the Visual Effects school at
Art
Institutes International Minnesota, where he teaches filmmaking, editing, and
compositing. His current film, PLANETFALL, features a cameo by DOCTOR WHO
regular John Levine, who played U.N.I.T. Sergeant Benton in the early 1970s.

###

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