AUSTIN, TX -- As part of its year ‘round programming, Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival is thrilled to announce the Texas premiere of NIGHTMARE CODE on September 17 (9:30PM) at the Alamo Drafthouse Village. Co-writer/Director Mark Netter will be in attendance and will do a Q&A after the screening.
NIGHTMARE CODE is a psychological SciFi thriller about behavior recognition technology and 24/7 surveillance.
Brett Desmond (Andrew J. West), a genius programmer with a troubled past is called in to finish a top secret behavior recognition program, R.O.P.E.R., after the previous Lead Programmer went insane. But the deeper Brett delves into the code, the more his own behavior begins to change… in increasingly terrifying ways.
Suspense builds with surveillance, PC, and eyeglass cameras – often with four images onscreen at once…as if R.O.P.E.R. itself is telling the story.
Imagine THE SHINING in a start-up as told by H.A.L. from 2001.
NIGHTMARE CODE took the top prize at this year’s Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival and won “Best Thriller” at the 14th Annual Shriekfest Horror & Science Fiction film festival, among other honors.
Co-Writer/Director Mark Netter’s experience in video game development informed his choices on the project. “Prior to that experience I thought that any two programmers of comparable skill would write the same program with code that would be 95% similar,” says Netter. “I learned instead that different programmers come up with vastly different coding solutions, meaning that somewhere deep inside every computer, every mobile phone, is the individual personality of a programmer – expressed as logic. “
But what if this personality, this logic, was sentient? And what if it was extremely pissed off?
“Based on that premise,” Netter continues, “my co-writer, M.J. Rotondi, and I created R.O.P.E.R., a high-tech software and surveillance system that has the ability to accurately recognize human behavior in real time. R.O.P.E.R. (named so for “roping in” all the video in the wi-fi or cellular area) doesn’t just interpret what you say — it displays what you’re truly feeling. Although we wrote and shot this film several years prior to release, before behavior recognition companies existed, we appear to have predicted that very thing.”
“THE NIGHTMARE CODE is a great example technology for technology’s sake not always being the best idea,” adds Bears Fonté, OWA Founder and Director of Programming. “The distance we have come from the ‘portable’ 50 pound computer we had in my house growing up to today’s iPads is nothing if not awe-inspiring. Our drive to turn our processors on anything that can be studied will continue to lead us into surprises, and unlock secrets we might not want to know.”
“From a filmmaking perspective,” says Fonté, “the division of the film into quadrants of viewing creates a new experience, one that breathes fresh life into the found footage or POV perspective, but harkens back to the bold indie filmmaking of Mike Figgis. This film captures what gets me so excited about Other Worlds programming, standing at the intersection of Horror, SciFi, and Indie filmmaking.”
With a production budget of just $80,000, the filmmakers created the immersive world of OptDex, a beleaguered software start-up. They utilized surveillance camera, PC cam, and eyeglasscam shots to provide the geography of OptDex, so that the comfort of these recurring angles could be shattered when the events within them go haywire.
“In post-production we settled on the quad screens that checkerboard the movie,” says Netter. “The rule was to always think like R.O.P.E.R., whether editing over intricate visual mosaic or creating the 600+ individual visual effects. The viewer feels that R.O.P.E.R. is telling them this story – and we believe ours is the first feature film ever told from the point of view of Artificial Intelligence.”
As the remaining employees at OptDex find themselves increasingly affected by R.O.P.E.R., the audience is also scanning the screen wondering who’s going to appear where next, creating a highly active visual experience.
“Above all, we made NIGHTMARE CODE to open up a highly relevant conversation,” says Netter, “asking how our mastery of computer code is changing our basic human codes of behavior. Do we still control our tools, or are we (willingly) allowing our tools to take control of us?”
“Heir to 2001.” – Sensitive Skin
“A cerebral suspense story… like Primer.” – Culture Crypt
“An impressive film… stylish and intelligent.” – Horror Asylum
“Nightmare Code is fresh and relevant.” – Sci-Fi Bloggers
ANDREW J. WEST as Brett Desmond (The Walking Dead, Walter)
MEI MELANCON as Nora Huntsman (X-Men: The Last Stand, The L Word)
GOOGY GRESS as Foster Cotton (Apollo 13, Parenthood)
IVAN SHAW as Alex Chou (Get Him to the Greek, CSI:NY)
NICHOLAS GUEST as Ronald Dumaurier (Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy)
BRET ROBERTS as Anton Yurigarian (9 Full Moons, Southland)
CAITLYN FOLEY as Jennifer Desmond (Bones, Happy Endings)
TONYA KAY as Radova (The Lone Ranger, SIlverwood: Final Recordings)
Mark Netter, Co-Writer/Director
Armed with an MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Graduate School of Film and Television, Mark worked as assistant to Directors and Producers on feature films for 20th Century Fox, New Line Cinema and USA Films before tumbling into the world of videogame development. He was Producer of The Last Express for legendary game designer Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia) and Tetris games for Blue Planet Software. His continuing digital education includes digital and social media marketing ad agency experience for a wide range of movie studios, TV networks and tech companies. He also did a stint in the venture capital-backed, Silicon Valley start-up world that informs Nightmare Code. His first work computer: an IBM PC-XT.
About Other Worlds Austin
Other Worlds Austin is dedicated to bringing the best of SciFi to Austin, Texas. The festival programming team looks past budgets or the Hollywood push to find great stories and give them an Austin premiere. In addition to its year ‘round programming, the 2nd Annual Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival takes place December 3-5, 2015 at the Galaxy Highland 10. For more information, go to OtherWorldsAustin.com