It took science-fiction works like Matrix, War of the Worlds, Blade Runner, Mad Max and so on to ask the questions of the future: the “what ifs” that haunt our subconscious with an endearing sense of fear.
Local film director/producer Simon Norton Game tempts the same thoughts with his latest project – a TV series called Disrien – the story of a futuristic dystopian society riddled with fear, loss of freedom and identity, and worst of all, the consequential outcome of an environmental disaster.
To Game, sci-fi is more than just adding perspective ahead of our time – it also sends a message about the scenarios that may await us in the future.
“I’m a big fan of sci-fi and dystopia because it’s a great vehicle to comment on the things that affect contemporary society by using the future,” he said. “In a way, Disrien is a symbol of the link between sci-fi and the real issues our world faces today.”
Completely self-financed, the movie was two years in the making, with filming locations all throughout B.C. and Vancouver Island, including the Sooke region, Ocean Falls and the Great Bear rainforest, the coastline between the tip of the Island to Prince Rupert – which, when combined, form the fictional (and dystopian) town of Disrien, the place where the story starts and unfolds during the first season.
“They want to industrialize that entire section of the coast,” Game said, raising the issue that the Great Bear rainforest, and many others like it- face the threat of heavy industrialization by way of mining, forestry and oil pipelines in the near future.
“Basically, they want to turn it into Hamilton,” he says, referring to the steel-producing industrial mega-complex that operates off the coast of Southern Lake Ontario.
As a contrast to what *could* happen, Game focused on the beauty of the place – while at the same time telling the story of a shattered world.
“One of the things we want to do with this show is show the beauty of the West Coast,” Game said. “There’s all this final frontier feel to it – all this wilderness that feels almost dystopian.”
The story revolves around one of the main characters, Dante, who wakes up in a tattered, dark and dangerous dystopia; without any memory of who he is and how he got there. As the story goes on however, the audience learns a disturbing truth about him, as well as the town itself and the dark forces that thrive within it.
He’s not all alone, either; the plot also involves “the resistance” – a team of agents who seek to free the oppressed population from the claws of a group of elitists – who, terrifyingly, desire more than to just control society.
One of the first season’s central settings- or “chair of the story” as Game puts it, is the semi-comical “Tiki Noodle House” – a former lunch shack that was turned into a sort of futuristic-looking hangout. It’s even got a retro-fitted carnival sign over it, for that extra touch.
The majority of it was produced in Sooke, including a local state-of-the-art film studio. Game first began the project when he met friend and local writer Mark Powell, “a student of philosophy” who just seemed to fit as the right piece of the puzzle. Enchanted by Powell’s vision of the future, the two began collaborating on a film.
“We started talking about this short film where a man is trapped in this room with seemingly no door, but everything you look at, like looking at it in macro, you realize there’s another layer to it,” Game said, noting it was at this point the film’s story and precedence first took form.
“We kept galavanting on that idea and overnight it turned into something that we can work with,” he said. “It is a lot of work, a lot of competition; you’re probably never gonna make that money back, but it’s good fun and a great experience.”
After a couple of months, Mark took the story and started running with it. In early May 2014, he dropped off the whole Disrien first season in television form; 44-minute episodes comprised of around 40, 50 pages, which would ultimately result in 10 scripted television broadcast episodes.
“What we did here is basically half of what would of been a half-hour TV pilot,” he said. “The chances of getting it out into the hands of people who’d be willing to finance it on the spot seemed pretty slim, so we broke it up into a digital episode – little bite-size pieces and put it out there.”
Those who want to get into the dystopian and mysterious world of Disrien can visit www.disrien.com where they can watch the first episode, as well as play an interactive game that intersects and uncovers clues about the progressing storyline! For regular updates on upcoming episodes (and even clues) follow Disrien on Twitter at: @DISRIEN__