Screamers is the first feature film by Chocolate Factory Co-Founder / Artistic Director Brian Rogers, performed by dancers, choreographers, directors and performing arts curators. A kind of conceptual ghost story, Screamers was conceived during a year-long residency at a former Catholic Church owned by the artist Dan Hurlin in Stuyvesant, NY – and was subsequently filmed over the course of two weeks in September 2015, with additional filming in the Playhouse at Abrons Arts Center.
Though Screamers is created and performed by members of the dance, theater and performance communities, it is NOT a dance film. Rather, it is an attempt to fulfill certain expectations of feature length narrative filmmaking from the perspective of experimental performance. The cast and crew of Screamers are experienced dancemakers, theater directors / and performing arts curators – but came to this project without any prior filmmaking experience.
In 2014, Brian Rogers spent part of each week living in a former Catholic Church owned by the artist Dan Hurlin in upstate New York. The particular atmosphere and history of this location inspired him to write the first draft of a feature length screenplay in a single 48 hour period.
Screamers is above all the story of a space – a strange and haunted former Catholic Church on the banks of the Hudson River in Stuyvesant, NY – which conjures and ultimately consumes its inhabitants: a dancer and her husband (Molly Lieber and Andrew Dinwiddie); a priest (played by Jay Wegman, director of NYU Skirball and an ordained Episcopal priest); and a collection of menacing locals (played by Jim Findlay, Daniel Fish, former PS122 director Vallejo Gantner, Keely Garfield, and Jon Kinzel).
The cast and crew of Screamers was assembled entirely by instinct. Filming was completed in 11 days in September 2015, on a very small budget, with virtually no advance rehearsals.
Screamers is the third in a trilogy of works referencing cinematic vocabularies after Hot Box (2012/13, co-presented with Crossing The Line, PS122 and EMPAC) and Selective Memory (2010/11, Bessie Nomination).
Written and directed by Brian Rogers. Produced by Madeline Best. Edited by Brian Rogers. Director of photography: Jeff Larson. Production design: Sara C. Walsh. Lighting: Jon Harper. Sound recording: Stephen Bruckert. Sound Mixing and Mastering: Jim Dawson. Dramaturgy and Directorial Consultation: Madeline Best. Music by Brian Rogers. Assistant Production Design: Jessie Bonaventura. Production Assistants: Youree Choi, Ben Demarest, Jonathan Ginter, Kenneth Olguin, Nicole Simonson.
Starring: Andrew Dinwiddie, Jim Findlay, Daniel Fish, Vallejo Gantner, Keely Garfield, Jon Kinzel, Quinn Larson, Molly Lieber, Jay Wegman.
Screamers also exists as a live audiovisual performance, incorporating many of the ideas and techniques developed in our previous works Hot Box and Selective Memory. Screamers (the performance) has been in development since 2014 and has never been (and may never be) shown to the public. Commissioned – and then cancelled – by PS122, the creation of Screamers has been supported by residencies at The Atlas Institute at the University of Colorado, Yaddo, Bennington College and Mount Tremper Arts.
Screamers (the performance) is adaptable to any kind of space. It begins in a hyper-spatialized sound environment (generated live using analog modular synthesizers) which is experienced in total darkness. As the performance unfolds, elements of light, shadow, real and imagined details of the space itself are gradually revealed. Through evolving patterns of repetition, and the complex layering of architectural details with high resolution video doppelgangers, Screamers becomes a meditation on (and distortion of) the space in which it happens, without human intervention. Inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and the notion of “architecture as protagonist”, Screamers attempts to conjure the uncertainty, dread and horror contained within, behind and underneath the ordinary details of inhabited spaces; and to capture, somehow, the ghosts lurking in the shadow of the screen – the illusory flicker of life within a lifeless medium.
Screamers is algorithmically sequenced (its structure is semi-random) and utilizes 3-dimensional renderings (captured using modified Kinect equipment) and extensive video footage of the details of each space. These materials are then projection mapped onto the space itself, creating a kind of uncanny simulacrum that, through modulation and repetition, gradually reveals new understandings of the space and the place of the spectator within that space – disturbing the meaning of objects and details that are normally taken for granted.
Created by Madeline Best (Director of Photography / Dramaturg), Jon Harper (Lighting Design), Brad Kisicki (Scenic Design), Brian Rogers (Concept / Direction / Music) and Mike Rugnetta (Technology Design). Developed during residencies at The Atlas Institute at the University of Colorado, Yaddo, Bennington College and Mount Tremper Arts.
November 2018 – Reprise screenings of Screamers (the film) at Kaufman Astoria Studios.
March 17, 2018 – Preview Screening of Screamers (the film) at The Museum of the Moving Image as part of the Queens World Film Festival