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Would You See This Movie? | The Makers of “Darkon” Take on YouTube with “King Kelly”

Would You See This Movie? | The Makers of "Darkon" Take on YouTube with "King Kelly"

Here’s your weekly dose of an indie film in progress; every Friday, we spotlight a bigger project, usually from an established filmmaker or affiliated with a bigger production company.

“King Kelly”

Director: Andrew Neel (“Darkon”)
DP/Producer: Ethan Palmer (“Darkon”)
Producers: Tom Davis, Luke Meyer, Andrew Corkin, Susan Shopmaker (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Afterschool,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene”)
Co-Producer: Ed Vassallo
Casting Director: Susan Shopmaker
Cast: Louisa Krause (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”), Libby Woodbridge, Roderick Hill, Will Brill

“‘King Kelly’ began because we [Neel’s production company SeeThink] had been pitching a documentary television series about the Internet,” director Andrew Neel said. “We did all this research about these young women who create a fan base on the Internet using their sexuality to get people signed up for their sites.”

“King Kelly” is the online video username of a young girl who wants to become famous over the Internet. Set over a 24-hour period, the film follows King Kelly as she joins her best friend and one of her biggest fans — who happens to be a state cop — on an adventure to retrieve her car, which was stolen by a bitter ex-boyfriend.

“Clad in a teen adventure comedy, it’s really about the struggle to understand self in a world dominated by this narcissistic new generation,” Neel said. “At this time, everyone is drenched in self, and because of that, understanding self is more difficult. It’s discussing these things that we’re all trying to figure out on the fly right now in terms of what social media and the immediate documentation of self and presentation-of-self means for us as human beings.”

“This film lives and dies with who is cast as King Kelly,” Neel said. Working with the production team, casting director (and producer) Susan Shopmaker recommended “Martha Marcy May Marlene” star Louisa Krause to star as King Kelly.

“The King Kelly character is an incredibly hard character to cast,” Neel said. “She’s hyperbolic. You needed someone who has that spontaneity and guts — and Louisa has charged in and every day, she’s surprising everyone. A lot of the obvious choices are light on intellect and heavy on boobs. We had to find someone who could sustain people and keep people interested. The actor needs to make a character you love to hate.”

As a contribution to the style the filmmakers call “FUG” (fake user-generated), the film is shot completely from the perspective of either Kelly or her friend Jordan’s camera.

“The camera language of an untrained is incredibly natural and that makes sense,” Neel said. “When people pick up cameras they do what’s natural for them. Dolly shots/tracking shots are not natural. Sometimes I clear the set and it’s 360-degree set, just Louisa in a room. We’re all standing outside the room saying, ‘I wonder what she’s looking at!’ We’re balancing camera movements with calm, staid frames.

“I’m a YouTube junkie, and I love the cinematic language that has been created by non-professionals,” he said. “I started to get interested in this idea of online fame. Since the beginning of my filmmaking career, the four scripts I’ve written have been about the Internet. In 15 years, it’s completely changed how we live and how we understand ourselves. It’s comparable to the industrial revolution and the Renaissance.”

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