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Focus Adapting Time-Bending Sci-Fi Short 'Record/Play' Which Premiered At Urbanworld 2012

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by Tambay A. Obenson
October 3, 2013 5:28 PM
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Wow! 

This is the dream for many-a-filmmaker. You make a short film; it gets the attention of a Hollywood studio executive or creative, eventually, who loves it so much (at least the idea of it) that they want to see it as a feature-length film. 

That's happened to several filmmakers in the past, and clearly, despite an industry that's wrestling with change, is still one proven pathway for up-and-comers to consider.

A day after news of James Schamus' exit from Focus Features, the Universal Pictures subsidiary has inked a deal to adapt Jesse Atlas' 11-minute short film, Record/Play, into feature film length, with Chuck Roven (Man of Steel) producing.

It's a film we first learned about a year ago, at the 2012 Urbanworld Film Festival (which was its USA premiere), where it won the award for Best Short film. I should know because I was part of the 4-person jury who gave it the award.

Mustafa Shakir and Deepti Gupta star in a minimalist drama/sci-fi/thriller, in which a malfunctioning cassette tape captures more than just audio. The film explores an intriguing idea that you probably won't immediately, completely grasp in the teaser below, if you haven't seen the full film. 

But I won't spoil it for you! Of course, you can always google it to spoil it for yourself if you'd like.

I'll just say that I always appreciate filmmakers pushing for something beyond the usual, expected fare - especially when the starring characters are of color.

Of course, whether the feature adaptation will also have a black male lead and an Indian female lead, I can't say. It would be nice, but, this is Hollywood, so I don't expect that to happen. Although, as I said, it would be nice!

We'll see...

I call it minimalist because it features 2 key characters, in, as I recall, a couple of sparse locations, with virtually no dialogue, and some imagination on the part of the writer and director.

Despite its sci-fi bent, it's really a love story - a tragic one. I had to watch it a couple of times to make sure I didn't miss anything. The images, almost strictly, tell the story.

Jeb Brody will shepherd the project at Focus Features, along with Richard Suckle and Jake Kurily for Atlas Entertainment.

Schamus is leaving Focus Features, to be replaced by FilmDistrict founder and CEO Peter Schlessel in a move that will see Focus Features broaden its portfolio beyond the production and distribution of so-called "specialty product" or "arthouse films." 

I suppose Record/Play represents that shift. Although, it's still not what I'd call your typical mainstream, commercial sci-fi flick.

Stay tuned...

Watch the teaser trailer for Record/Play below:

RECORD/PLAY: TEASER from jesse atlas on Vimeo.

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