PLATTSBURGH - It's a process that's taken almost a decade, but Jason Andrew Torrance has created his first independent feature film. And, it's one he feels viewers will enjoy.
Torrance, a former student at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, is nearing completion on the production of "Melodrama," a dramatic piece he's been working on since the spring of 2002. The film centers around the main character of Tom, a writer who works in a theater. One night, Tom, played by Torrance, storms out of the theater mumbling about not being listened to, and drives home in a rage. Once home, he frantically searches for something among his papers which are strewn about the place. A knock at the door interrupts his hunt and, at first, no one is at the door. There's a second knock, and it's his best friend, Jack, a struggling actor played by Adam Soule, a former SUNY Plattsburgh student from Keeseville.
"What proceeds is a discussion, pleasant at first and then ominous," explained Torrance.
Tom surmises Jack's visit has to do with the incident at the theater, he said, but the subject of the conversation turns to the subject of a woman both seem involved with - Rachel, a character played by both Teresa Riddle and Zoey D'Arienzo.
"The mysterious young woman drives the drama of the evening to a climax where reality breaks down and both friends savagely attack each other, physically and emotionally," said Torrance.
The emotions of anger and guilt, mixed with blame and confusion, "whirl together as the truth threatens everyone," he added.
"I think the film is concerned with the idea of desire, images of desire and their crippling effects," said Torrance. "Both characters are bound by their desire for Rachel and also by desire for their careers, their ambition. And the strange portrait of co-dependency that the film paints lies at the center of the film's power."
Though the process to get Melodrama from paper to film dates back to 2002, the script itself goes back even farther. Torrance wrote the script in 1999, during a period when he was "writing a lot."
"A few disconnected images and monologues suddenly cohered and I realized I was writing a drama," he said.
Melodrama originally became a stage play, first put up during a night of student-written work at SUNY Plattsburgh. A few years later, Torrance had a location to shoot the film. The only thing he needed was a script.
"I always thought I was going to adapt Melodrama into a film some day; so, that's where it began," he said.
The entire film was shot in the North Country, mainly between locations in Plattsburgh and Morrisonville, during the spring of 2002. The main shoot of the film was only 10 days spread out over a four-month period. Additional scenes and images were shot over the following years, with the film having been in "a constant state of flux," said Torrance.
One of the biggest challenges Torrance faced in the production of Melodrama is one that is faced by any independent filmmaker - money. Melodrama, with the cost of the camera to shoot the film and computer to edit it, could have been budgeted at less than $7,000, he said. However, post-production - which involves the editing of the film, reshoots, special effects shots, music, credits, and other finishing touches - adds to the expense.
"To finish the film, I figured I needed $4,000, but I had no idea how to get it," he said.
That's when Torrance stumbled across Kickstarter, a Web site designed which helps people raise money to turn their ideas, inventions and projects into a reality. The site offers space for people like Torrance to ask for funding to complete their projects, asking them to give donors something in return.
"So, I sent them details about my film, the amount I needed to raise and the rewards I was offering for people to pledge, essentially the DVD of the film, and that was it," he said.
Currently, Melodrama has received 14 percent in pledges toward post-production expenses. Torrance said he hopes to entice more donors by the project's July 3 deadline.
For more information about Torrance's film or to pledge a donation towards the project, visit www.kickstarter.com and search for Melodrama. The film's progress is also updated on its Facebook page, which is also searchable by Melodrama at www.facebook.com.