Locally owned film production company Spiderking Studios will see its first action film on the big screen this month, when “Death with Dignity” premieres at Roseburg Cinema.
Directed by studio owner Jake Tranter and featuring a mostly local cast, “Death with Dignity” will have its world premiere on Dec. 30, with additional showings Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 at Roseburg Cinema.
The film focuses on Tyler, who actor Taylor Smart describes as “an average man, living an average life. Until one day the idea hits me ... what if, to shake things up a little, I hired a hitman ... on myself? Tyler’s story evolves from there as he struggles to identify with himself and deal with the problem he has created.”
Thankfully, Smart felt well equipped to handle the role. Not only has he been acting on and off throughout his life, but as the script supervisor for Spiderking Studios he was familiar with the script and hopeful to participate in the film. Tyler was an easy role for him, he said, especially since he had just played a psychopathic, confused killer in the company’s first feature film “Limbo.”
“The basic premise of my role in (Death with Dignity) is the same, but instead of showing my crazy side right off the bat, I had to build up to a point where Tyler got to that mindset. It was fun to explore the character’s emotions and what drives him,” Smart said. “I spent hours going over lines in the mirror to make sure they came off exactly as I needed them to.”
In an interview with The News-Review in September, Tranter described the film as a “really crazy project” that was “really, really ambitious, especially for a small indie company like us.”
Some of that ambition bit back in the form of scheduling conflicts. These issues led to some things just not working out the way he had envisioned while planning the project, including a few scenes that had to be cut due to time constraints. When asked if the film turned out as he envisioned, Tranter replied that some parts did and some didn’t.
“But I know that’s just part of the process so, sometimes. Things have to be changed because it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. Usually you want to stick to the script and make sure everything is getting done the way it’s supposed to but sometimes, yeah, you do need to make whatever decision is best for the project. We are trying to reach a deadline and sometimes the only thing you can do is cut a certain scene that doesn’t work,” Tranter said. “But overall it turned out really well and I’m happy with it.”
Despite these bumps in the road, the passion of the actors and the action choreography vastly exceeded Tranter’s expectations. He was also pleased that he could find ways to incorporate a message into the film.
“I mean, it’s an action flick, but with my films in particular I like including things on mental health awareness and things like that,” Tranter said. “The overall theme of the film doesn’t have a big symbolic meeting as I would for, say, our last film, but there’s definitely is a message there if the audience were to look deeper into it.”
This will be the second feature film released by the studio and runs just over an hour in length. While the studio’s first full-length film, “Limbo,” premiered at the Betty Long Unruh Theatre, this will be Spiderking Studio’s first film to be featured at the local cinema.
“Death with Dignity” will premiere at 6 p.m. on Dec. 30, 31 and Jan. 1. Tickets are $8 a person and need to be purchased from the Spiderking Studio’s website rather than the cinema itself. The first night has already sold out, but tickets are still available for Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Tranter said digital copies of the film will eventually be available to purchase, also from the website.
Planning has already started on the studio’s next project, which Tranter described as a thriller. Auditions will be held in January with the goal of starting production in February.
“Spiderking Studios has always been about the community. We want people to learn more about film and we would love to see the industry grow, especially down in Southern Oregon, where there aren’t too many options for budding artists, especially in the film industry,” Smart said. “I hope that anyone watching this movie or reading this paper understands that, three years ago, we were just a few people with a common dream, and that dream has developed into something wonderful, and I’d like to see more people in the community get involved.”