(TransBeMan: James Remar and Jane Kim)
Transformer Films, in Dumbo, is across the street from the transformer, at the dead end of Jay Street, against the blue ribbon of the East River. Helmed by Eric Nadler and Bob Coen, they like to joke that this is where they get their power. Their latest film, TransBeMan, a sci fi thriller, directed by Richard Kroehling, asks the provocative question; once you remove death and mortality, what happens to the human experience? Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, would be proud. The premise is life can live on in virtual reality— once we get rid of our cumbersome and mortal hardware, our bodies.
The film had its genesis in 2005 in Caracas, Venezuela at the World Congress of Transhumanism. So the film is rooted in scientific fact as crazy as that might sound. It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of a self-aware computer, our friend Hal (“I can’t do that Dave”), seemed preposterous. Now we are wedded to our virtual lives; our cars, our computers and our homes talk to us. According to Coen and Nadler, there is a huge sub-culture of post docs at MIT and Harvard University who are experimenting with and investigating the post-human condition through genetic engineering. I went to the premiere of this film at Galapagos Art Space on February 15th and walked away very impressed.
This compelling feature typifies the type of brainy, cerebral filmmaking of Transformer. Their next film, Anthrax Wars, is a documentary about the 2001 anthrax attacks and a trail of dead scientists. Bruce E. Ivens is one of them. He made national headlines when he was accused of being the anthrax killer. He allegedly killed himself in August 2008. I write allegedly because the Coen and Adler believe otherwise. This material is so combustive that the making of the film is now a book, Dead Silence: Fear and Loathing on the Anthrax Trail, soon to be released by Counterpoint Press from Berkeley.
So who are these men? Eric Nadler is an award winning author, journalist and filmmaker. He has written for Rolling Stone, Harpers, The Nation, and Mother Jones, among others. He has produced programs for PBS FRONTLINE and was the investigative editor for the Peabody Award-winning South African Now. Bob Coen is an award winning journalist and filmmaker from Zimbabwe whose work has been broadcast on PBS, National Geographic and Channel 4, UK, among others. In 1997, he was awarded the Bayeux Award, for Television War Correspondent of the Year.
They like to call Dumbo the “back lot.” They love the energy here; the photo shoots, the artists, the sweeping views of the East River from their production office. They love the local businesses, including, It’s the Sound, Galapagos and Rice. They want their neighbors to know that in addition to being passionate and intelligent filmmakers, they also know how to recycle. Up next they’re working on Pinky, Pinky. Pinky is a ghost. A South African golem who lives in the toilet and attacks young girls. We have our urban myths— the poodle in the microwave, the dead hitchhiker, but nothing like this. I pitched them Ten One Night Stands; my series of webisodes, edgy and erotic, about the new sexual dynamic between men and women. I hope I get to work with them. I hope you see their movies.
Today’s guest blogger, LA Slugocki is an award winning writer and producer, has lived in New York City for twenty years. Her credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, NPR, Salon.com, and an MA from NYU. Her interests are literature, theatre, music and art.