Fairplay, Colorado, is a tiny mountain town with about one street, situated some 40 miles south of Frisco between the San Isabel and Pike national forests. In other words, it's in the middle of nowhere. In other other words, it's a really difficult place to shoot a feature film. "Yeah, it was remote," says Mark Diestler, producer of The Inner Room, which was shot entirely in Fairplay and has its premier at the Mayan Theater tomorrow night. "No cell phone signal, generator power -- which is its own set of issues. You never saw anybody. There was maybe a handful of cars that would drive by the cabin in a week. It was interesting."
That cabin, actually, takes a pretty central role in the movie, a psychological thriller that follows a couple as they venture into the wilderness to nurture their relationship after a tragedy -- but as the wife begins to experience horrific visions, the line between real and unreal becomes blurred. (Just incidentally, Diestler knows that plot-line bears more than a passing resemblance to Lars von Trier's Antichrist from 2009. "Yeah, we get that sometimes," he admits. "I suppose on the surface, the premise is very similar to that of Antichrist, but I think the similarities really end there -- at least that's what I hear. I've never seen Antichrist, so I could be wrong.")
Whatever the case, the film came about as sort of a compromise between Diestler and writer/director Jack Gastelbondo. Diestler and Gastelbondo had worked on several short films in the past together -- "It's kind of a natural progression to move into feature films," Diestler says -- but the project they had initially picked to work on turned out to be "too ambitious. So we made the decision to put that project on the back-burner and do something a little less intensive, so Jack came up with this idea, and we decided to go with it."
From there, Diestler set about the producer's tasks of raising funds, hiring people, hiring people to hire people, picking out a location, overseeing production and the myriad other details on the considerably business end of making a movie. They're tasks well suited to Diestler, who got into making films in college but majored in business, but Diestler, who has a day-job, also observes that it's not easy. "It is a lot of work. Really, it's just building up vacation time and working a lot of nights and weekends."
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Still, in the end, Diestler says it was worth it. "I'm very happy with it. There's really nothing like the satisfaction of finishing up something like this and just putting it out there, and the public can be the judge of whether it's any good or not."
Is it? Find out for yourself at The Inner Room's premier tomorrow night at the Mayan Theater at 7 p.m. (select screenings will continue through the fall, when it will be released on DVD October 11). Tickets are $10.