Post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller Friend of the World is to have its virtual world premiere on August 15th at the 2020 Oceanside International Film Festival.
Months ago, if you had told filmmaker Brian Patrick Butler that his apocalyptic sci-fi vision would first be seen by audiences among protests during a pandemic, he would have chuckled and rolled his eyes. Flash forward to today and our world doesn’t seem far from the events that unfolded prior to the story in “Friend of the World,” Butler’s feature film debut. The picture was made in San Diego and stars a duo of local theatre actors, Alexandra Slade and Nick Young. Kerry Rossall (Apocalypse Now) is the executive producer and the film was shot by cinematographer Ray
Gallardo (At The Frontera, Callejero).
The first draft of “Friend of the World” was actually written in August 2016, amidst a presidential election even more controversial than usual, growing fear of global war, and a burgeoning with other countries, and a burgeoning heightened cynicism in America that was spreading like wildfire. All of this informed a script that was originally coming from a personal place of fear and isolation. Not the mandatory isolation we are accustomed to today, but the self-imposed quarantine of an introverted wannabe writer-actor-director full of dreams and desire but low on confidence.
The simple and seemingly small-scale story was of a young filmmaker who awakens amidst the interminable carnage of a war, which seems to have decimated most of the population. She tries to piece together the origins of this nightmare (in addition to staying alive) with the help of an infuriatingly eccentric, ideologically opposed figure of the U.S. military who begins to grow on her over time… in more ways than one.
At the center of the film, a mysterious character mutters a euphemism for coming to terms with and digesting inconceivable circumstances. For the protagonist, this line rings true for the brutality she has endured up to this point, as well as the new identity she’ll be forced to confront later on. In the period of time between the writing and completion of this film, I have moved to another city, married my wife, and had my first child. I have grieved the passing of my mom. Couple these momentous life events with the major global affairs of the last four years, much less of 2020 alone, and it would seem inconceivable that this reality, for better or worse (and much more nuanced than my wildest fantasies in 2016), would become the new normal in such a short span of time.
This darkly personal little film about solitude, growth, and the corruption accompanying that growth within the enlightened, sometimes fractured psyches of our mentors (a forbidden fruit that gives wisdom but takes much in return) remains true to my original vision, though some time has passed. It is interesting to see the qualities of the film that retain their original effect, and those that have acquired additional meaning after the immediate passing of such an eventful chapter in our history.
Global drama aside, “Friend of the World” is intended first and foremost as entertainment: a presumably good character we can identify with up against an unstoppable monster who represents everything that scares and infuriates us. It is a tribute to and expansion of themes from the body horror subgenre of sci-fi and horror. This grotesque element of the movie underscores the arc and ultimate fates of the two main characters, Diane and Gore.
Additionally, there are elements of comic absurdity and social satire to make this elephant-sized pill of a twisted morality play a tad easier to digest.
The actors and crew have made “Friend of the World” far bigger and better than I had ever imagined. What was originally intended as a modest attempt to gain experience telling a good story in a simple environment resulted in the talents of many artists exploding this minimalist story into an effective and brutal experience more powerful than I could have wished for. For that, I am eternally grateful to have been apart of it and excited to share this ever-changing, nasty little nightmare with anyone interested in a bite of “forbidden fruit.”