Feature: The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell

Note: This article was originally published in Technician on February 22, 2007.


Breaking the mold of Hollywood

So you want to make your own movie? Maybe these guys can help.

This Friday the Carolina Theatre will host a premiere of The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell, an independent feature film made by North Carolina natives. Before the screening, however, the filmmakers will be here on campus as part of a special "Meet the Filmmakers' event sponsored by the Film Studies program. The writer, director, producer, actors and other crew members -- including Jamie Bullock and Kevin Wheatley -- are scheduled to be on campus to show clips from the film and answer questions about how it was made.

Marsha Orgeron, director of film studies, is helping to sponsor the event.

"The whole idea is to allow students to have some interaction with a significant number of the cast and crew,' Orgeron said. "This is an opportunity for anyone interested in any element of filmmaking to come and ask questions.'

The majority of the cast and crew are alumni of N.C. State or the North Carolina School of the Arts, and some were even still students at the time of the film's production.

"I think it's kind of inspirational to look at young people who have managed to do these things," Orgeron said. "If you look at the resumes of the writer and director they graduated in 2002, so they're really just starting out their careers, and they're already doing something like this."

Jamie Bullock is one of the cast members that will be attending. An actress in the film, she was also its main producer.

"We had to learn everything on our own and got all of the elements to make what we wanted to make. I think that people who want to hear the honest truth will learn a lot,' Bullock said. "We don't have all the answers or all the experience, but we know what it's like to come straight out of school and make a movie.'

The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell follows the adventures of Tex Kennedy, a politician in a post-apocalyptic United States. Joined by two robot companions and a mysterious woman known as "Cannibal Sue', Kennedy journeys to the country's future capital in an effort to unite the nation.

"It's taking something that most movies had made really serious -- the end of the world and the apocalypse -- and these characters are all so crazy, it's just a lot of fun,' Bullock said.

The director of the film, Kevin Wheatley, said he was inspired to write something that normally wouldn't come out of Hollywood.

"I wanted to do something that was original and stick my head out there and create something different,' Wheatley said. "We're exploring a new kind of narrative. It kind of gives an idea of how societies are sort of built.'

The film places a lot of emphasis on political and social themes. Developed as the first part of a possible trilogy, it deals with a futuristic society known only as "New America.'

"It's just about how sociology gets created and myths and legends get organized,' Wheatley said. "The same way we have these legends like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, we wanted to explore how those legends are created.'

Though the film resists attempts to be placed in a particular genre, the filmmakers said most of the people attending the event will have a good time.

"It sort of mixes a lot of genres that college kids like and it's smart,' Bullock said. "It's a movie that not a lot of people will get, but the ones that do will really enjoy it."