A scene from JIM, a film by Jeremy Morris-Burke. Picture courtesy Tinmouth Films. All rights reserved.
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Opened: 10/08/2010 Limited
|Quad Cinema/NYC||10/08/2010 - 10/21/2010||14 days|
|Sunset 5/LA||10/15/2010 - 10/21/2010||7 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Being steadily crushed under the weight of debt, unemployment, and increasing isolation, Jim reaches a breaking point. Over a game of solitary Russian roulette he contemplates an unspeakable act of violence as a way of leaving his mark. He is stopped short by a vision of his deceased wife who convinces him that he should instead focus his remaining resources into an act of creation. Armed with his wife's frozen eggs and a new resolve, Jim secures the services of a large biotech firm to help him create an heir who will be engineered to overcome the obstacles of common men.
Meanwhile in the distant future Niskaa, the leader of a group of genetically modified beings, controls a race of worker clones in a super-industrialized, post-human Earth. As he tries to restore his decrepit empire he comes face to face with a young clone that shows an unprecedented capacity for reason and empathy. Somehow connected to Jim via dreams, the clone manifests secrets of Nature that Niskaa has not accounted for...
It was important for me in making this film to illuminate patterns over long time-spans; to interweave past, present, and future and highlight the points at which they interconnect and become indiscernible from one another. I chose film as my medium because it offers the opportunity to assemble visual, aural, and emotional constructs into a larger whole that can transcend its parts. Thus, the three stories in this film run in parallel and feed into one another in various ways.
Trapped in the midst of a lonely and unraveling life, Jim is forced to make important decisions under extreme duress. Being only human, he needs to be sure his life means something and therefore funnels his remaining resources into securing his legacy via Lorigen, a company offering social and economic security through genetic enhancement. The past represented in the film serves as fuel for Jim's resolve, while the future is a hypothetical projection derived of his decision. Though Jim is the nucleus of the events in the film, they are never fully under his control- in fact, many of the problems he initiates are never even known to him. This seemed to me an appropriate framework for a movie about the issues involved in manipulating the genes of future generations.
I wrote this film as a way of exploring the idea that events, like people, have ancestors. Inspiration came from my friends, family, and imagination. Everyone has a story to tell, but today's story is informed by the events of yesterday, while that story will undoubtedly influence what happens tomorrow, and so on.
Being an independent filmmaker of modest means, it was my challenge to convey this story with the tools I had at my disposal. Recent advances in desktop cinema, and the availability of inexpensive tools and training, contributed greatly to the final product, as did the enthusiastic help of many good people. Being almost entirely self-taught, I owe my virtual tutors in cyberspace a debt of gratitude.
As for the characters in the film, many of them are composites of people I know and the experiences they've had. This is especially true of Jim. The world he inhabits, where the dying middle-class struggles to hold on as shifting social norms and technological progress allow the affluent to excel to ever-greater heights, is informed by the plights and struggles of many people close to me. It was important to me create a character in Jim that never comes across as a loser, but instead simply can't maintain his foothold in the face of insurmountable social and economic obstacles. For Jim and those in a similar position, the American Dream has been dead for a while now- we are just grasping at the remaining scraps.
Meanwhile in the background a large biotech firm peddles genetic wares promising to help consumers overcome the obstacles common to their peers. Now the "War on the Middle-Class" is reframed as an "Arms Race Within the Middle-Class". In the film, as in life, we find that the wealthy have their own hidden system for maintaining their position. In that sense, the playing field is only level as far as you can see it- beyond the horizon, mountains lurk in the haze of exclusivity. Genetic enhancement at the retail level may, among other things, increase the depth of your gaze. Whether it can help you reach those distant peaks, or navigate the murky ethical and socio-economic terrain in between, is another matter entirely.