“How far would you go to forget,” asks “Erasure,” the upcoming psychological thriller by independent filmmaker Austin Snell. Filmed entirely in Kansas, the movie was written and directed by Snell, and stars Dane Shobe and Matt Briden. The film focuses on the idea of trauma, and the issues that could arise if the option existed for memories to be erased.
The concept for the movie arose after Snell read an article in Wired Magazine, concerning real life research into memory manipulation. The idea of deliberate memory loss is nothing new to film (see “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.) However, “Erasure” looks to put a new spin on the genre, by adding elements of horror and thriller films to the mix. Snell
“I think it’ll hit a nerve with people, because what’s really going on inside of it is an age old philosophical debate,” Snell said. “Is it really possible to decide who you are? I think that’s something people have both consciously and subconsciously thought of. I think it’s just an interesting conversation that people can relate to and walk away from, while being entertained.”
Shobe plays a social worker named John Lobe. When John’s wife is murdered by one of his clients (Briden), he struggles to deal with the grief, and to move on with his life. When an opportunity presents itself for John to take part in an experimental procedure, in which a chemical injection will erase the memories of his wife from his mind, he volunteers to be the guinea pig for the experiment. Things seem to be fine at first, but soon after the operation, John begins to have disturbing hallucinations and flashes of the memories he erased.
This was not the first time Shobe and Snell had been involved in a project together. Seven years prior, he and Snell shot a horror film called “Thick” during high school, with Shobe cast in the role of the villain. Shobe joked about how it was not the best film ever, but it was a lot of fun to be a part of. His feelings were mostly the same concerning “Erasure,” though he believes it is a much better film, saying that Snell has only gotten better as time has gone on.
The character of John Lobe was written specifically for Shobe. Shobe says he was glad to have the part, adding that it was especially enjoyable to work with Snell because he was open to suggestions and changes made by the actors. Shobe says he loved working on the film as a whole, and hopes the movie will bring some attention to Topeka actors.
“It was a great time,” says Shobe. “I had something to do every weekend. There were so many talented local actors in on it. It became a pretty big monster. I’m really excited for shedding some highlight on the wealth of talent we have in this community. Let them know we’re out here.”
Snell began scripting the film over a year ago, with filming beginning near the end of October 2013. Snell says over 60 actors and extras are in the film, all of them in it for free. He also says the budget for the film was next to nothing.
“It was pretty much non-existent,” said Snell. “We just used the resources we had at our disposal and had to be creative. It cost very little to make since it was stretched out over such a long period of time.”
“Erasure” will be premiering May 10 at Washburn University. While no additional screenings of the film have been confirmed, Snell assured that there would be more opportunities in the future to see it, including the possibility of streaming the film online.