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Meet the 2013 Sundance Filmmakers #3: G. J. Echternkamp Enters a Video Game to Deal With "Big Existential Stuff" in 'Virtually Heroes'

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire January 8, 2013 at 12:52PM

Best known for helming the feature documentary "Frank and Cindy," which was featured on the "This American Life" series on Showtime, G. J. Echternkamp makes his narrative debut with the high-concept indie "Virtually Heroes," premiering in the Midnight Madness section. Produced by the legendary Roger Corman, "Virtually Heroes" centers on a video game character, Sgt. Brooks, who becomes increasingly frustrated by the messed up logic of his universe. To find answers to his many questions, he seeks out a straight-talking monk who resides within his virtual world.
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G. J. Echternkamp

Best known for helming the feature documentary "Frank and Cindy," which was featured on the "This American Life" series on Showtime, G. J. Echternkamp makes his narrative debut with the high-concept indie "Virtually Heroes," premiering in the Midnight Madness section. Produced by the legendary Roger Corman, "Virtually Heroes" centers on a video game character, Sgt. Brooks, who becomes increasingly frustrated by the messed up logic of his universe. To find answers to his many questions, he seeks out a straight-talking monk who resides within his virtual world.

What It's About: "It’s about two American soldiers fighting in Vietnam who are actually characters in a bad video game. It’s very frustrating for them."

What It's REALLY About: "Big existential stuff. Life. Death. Rebirth. Call of Duty. Resident Evil. Exploding Barrels. Cheap-Ass Bosses. Buddhism. Cobra Kai. Roger Corman. Star Wars. Artificial Intelligence. Apocalypse Now. Tetris. Explosions."

What I Shot On: "The RED one."

My Chief Challenge: "It wasn’t easy making a moderatelty budgeted (yet oddly high concept) Roger Corman film with all of the video game graphics, action scenes, and music that it needed to be fully awesome."

"Virtually Heroes"
Sundance "Virtually Heroes"

My Sole Wish: "I would love for someone to walk out of the theater and say, 'That film was totally crazy but I was never bored.'"

What Inspired Me: "I would say all of the Corman-produced Vietnam movies from the late 80's / early 90's. Most of them were directed by the vastly underrated Filipino director Cirio Santiago, who was able to churn out pretty amazing action scenes on a shoestring budget."

In the Works: "I’m working on a scripted adaption of a documentary I did called 'Frank & Cindy' about my crazy wonderful parents. You can watch some of it on the 'This American Life' TV series, in an episode called 'The Cameraman.'"

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on January 17 for the latest profiles.

This article is related to: Virtually Heroes, Sundance Film Festival, Meet the 2013 Sundance Filmmakers