Thursday, July 14, 2011

Free to Adapt Philip K. Dick His Way

It's been a long, slow road for John Alan Simon's directorial debut Radio Free Albemuth, based on the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name. The LA based exec was all set to make the movie in 1999 when the financing company he was partnered with started taking the project down casting and script roads that were unacceptable.

But with a pared down adaptation having snagged a couple of awards and sales deal when it made its international debut last fall at the 2010 Fantastic Planet Film Festival in Sydney, Simon's tenacity seems to have been rewarded. This weekend, Radio Free Albemuth is back Down Under, with its writer-director-producer in tow, for a pair of screenings at the 2011 Revelation Film Festival in Perth on Friday July 15th and Sunday July 17th.

Written in 1976, first published in 1985

What really got Simon pointed towards the micro-budget path for Albemuth was UCLA Extension. As an instructor of a course in indie filmmaking, he had to work closely with over forty different speakers, interviewing each beforehand. He eventually decided micro was the way to go with the Dick novel and thanks to a single but very key private investor, Simon was finally able to make the film the way he wanted.

The story is set in a dystopian America circa 1985, with Berkeley record store clerk Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) moving to Los Angeles and becoming involved in a political conspiracy alongside science-fiction writer Dick (referred to in the film only as Phil) and a mysterious woman, Sylvia (Alanis Morissette).

Before making his name in the film industry with his shingle Discovery Productions, Simon was a staff writer for the New Orleans Times Picayune and editor-in-chief of New Orleans magazine. He has also reviewed films for American Film magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, and other publications. In LA, he previously directed several Classical Theatre Lab stage productions.

Up next for Simon as a director is an adaptation of the Jim Thompson novel Nothing More Than Murder.

[Radio Free Albemuth]

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