After the thrills: N.H. native’s short film imagines what happens once the big action movie ends
Nearly every 1980s action blockbuster ends on a high note, with the villains dead and the hero riding off with his beautiful-but-interchangeable love interest. “Epilogue,” a short film written and directed by New Hampshire native Dylan Allen, picks up where those plots leave off.
The 16 minute, 30 second film, shot in Concord, Lincoln and North Woodstock, takes up the story of a hero named Skillman, played by Chris Henry Coffey, after he has finished destroying his archenemy, recovering a priceless orb and saving his latest lover’s life.
“We wanted to riff on the happily-ever-after trope that we’re all so familiar with and see how a person like this tries to reintegrate back into normal life – or not,” said Allen, 31. “We were trying to take into account a lot of the elements of those films that we’re familiar with and turn them on their head.”
Allen wrote and directed the film, with Eddy Vallante and Rebecca Brice as co-producers and Evan Jake Cohen as photography director. The film was shown at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan and several other festivals across the country before it debuted online June 2. It will be featured as an entertainment option on United Airlines flights starting Tuesday.
“We’re just unbelievably excited that people are enjoying the film and getting the chance to see it now,” Allen said. “It’s great to have the opportunity to get it out there, and we had always hoped that the film would be able to find its audience on the internet.”
The film was a low-budget production, but Allen said the crew found ways to “live up to the promise of the premise” without spending money on staging crashes or explosions.
“We needed to set it somewhere visually captivating for that opening scene, since we weren’t going to be pulling out any effects of our own,” he said. “I grew up in New Hampshire, so I was familiar with the beautiful landscape options, but I had to do some scouting.”
Most of the film was shot near the Lost River Gorge in the White Mountains, though the final scene takes place in a laundromat on Loudon Road in Concord.
“I went up to New Hampshire almost every weekend. I must have been in every motel in a 100 mile radius,” Allen said.
The film opens with a dramatic mountainside scene in the pouring rain, with an exhausted Skillman leaving the scene of a climactic battle. Vallante, 32, said filming this part was the most challenging day of production.
“It was all hands on deck, and we were a small crew shooting in a total downpour on the side of a mountain, up to our knees in mud,” he said. “Lights were going out, and microphones were getting damaged. It was a complete nightmare, but the rain added such a unique element to the scene that we couldn’t have paid to re-create, so that was a nice payoff.”
Instead of immediately chasing down the next high-adrenaline adventure, Skillman and his leading lady, played by Lucy Walters, set up camp in a seedy motel. Romantic comedy elements threaten to intrude as she tries to coax him into a tropical getaway, but it becomes clear that he has no idea what to do in everyday interactions lacking guns and battles.
Allen said he tried to differentiate “Epilogue” from the action movies the inspired it.
“You’ll notice there’s no music after the opening credits. We tried to give it a mundane quality of everyday life, letting things play out in real time,” he said. “For example, the last shot of the film is long, it’s just in the laundromat, and we leave people with that instead of going out with a bang. He stands there and you see him dial every single digit on an old-fashioned rotary phone – we intentionally didn’t cut that. It was deliberate to let these moments play out, but we had to figure out how to do that without making some interminable movie.”
Allen is the founder of Amalgamated Picture Co. in Brooklyn, which produced “Epilogue” and a smaller-scale short film, “Same Same,” in 2012. He said they have another film in the works, but for now “Epilogue” is available for free online at amalgamatedpictureco.com/epilogue. Interested viewers can buy the most expensive ticket in town by purchasing a United Airlines flight to see the film as a complimentary entertainment option.
(Ann Marie Jakubowski can be reached at 369-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AMJakubowski.)