Beware of this ‘cult’ classic

Don’t ask director Seth Landau about the significance of the mask in his new film, “Bryan Loves You.”

On the film’s official Web site, visitors are greeted by a cheap yet menacing mask that is related to the villains in the film.

“The mask is a pretty key object in the story,” Landau said. “So I don’t want to give the story away before the movie even comes out.”

“Bryan Loves You” marks Landau’s second
feature film effort. Shot in just 17 days with a budget of $25,000, the film features big-name actors, including Tony Todd of “Candyman.”

“We shot the movie in several different mediums, with the Sony DVX-100 digital camera and a consumer-grade camera,” Landau said.

“We wanted the film to have a documentary
look and feel so that people would see it and wonder just how real or fake the story is.”

The story of “Bryan Loves You” begins with the hospitalization of Jonathan, a therapist from New York City who moved to a town in Arizona. One of Jonathan’s patients, played by former “Cheers” star George Wendt, talks in depth about a mysterious cult that inhabits the town.

When Jonathan starts to notice peculiar happenings in the town and proceeds to investigate them further, his journey ends in the ward of Camelback Hospital.

“The cult was made from my experience growing up in Arizona,” Landau said. “It’s not based on any one cult, but on a multitude of other cults in history. The story itself is about fitting in, and when I was a kid, I didn’t fit in very well. I was one of the few Jewish kids around in the neighborhood. Using all that, I came up with this one amalgamation of Bryan, and it all came together to make one creepy-ass story.”

The cult in the story worships a man named Bryan, a member of a royal family in history, who is brutally murdered by a rival. Since the Bryan cult comes from a violent history, its members use violence as a means to get their message across.

“The story of the cult is about the dangers
of believing what you’re told without really giving it a second thought,” Landau said.

“Their ideology is ‘Believe or die.'”

Landau comes from a reporting background.
After graduating from Arizona State University with a degree in broadcast journalism, he became a staff reporter for “The East Valley Tribune,” the second largest paper in the state of Arizona. But it soon became apparent to the budding reporter that he was meant to be in a different industry.

“When I was 24, I realized that I should be making films full-time,” said Landau. “I’m still a reporter in some ways, because I was always concerned with what was entertaining and thought-provoking. I think things happen for a reason, because if I had stayed in journalism, I would have been perpetually frustrated.”

Landau made his first film on a budget of $13,000. A majority of the crew members from his first project returned to help Landau with “Bryan Loves You.”

“It was important to get people who really
cared about the project,” Landau said. “A lot of the people who came from my first film to work on ‘Bryan’ were eager and ready to hit the ground running. We had a lot of deadlines to meet and very little time and money to meet them in, but we did it.

“You’d be surprised with what people can accomplish in the face of so many constraints. When you have to get it done, you find that you can get it done.”

The film is currently in post-production, with a release date slated for Halloween 2007. For the moment, “Bryan Loves You” does not have any official distributors or official plans for release in theaters, but Landau isn’t worried.

“The idea, for now, is to create and maintain interest. I believe that the right distributor can either make or break your movie, so I’m not about to rush into something unless I’m sure it’s a good fit.

“My job is to make the best product possible,” Landau said.

Marta Rusek can be reached at mrusek@temple.edu.

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