UNIVERSAL CITY (2010)

20 Minutes, Digital Video. 

Written & Directed by Jason Underhill.Story by: Jason Underhill, Rena Kosnett, Roxie Fuller, Ben Smith.

Cast: Ben Smith, Ignacio Genzon, Roxie Fuller, Ayana Hampton. Production Manager: Alexis Hudgins. Production Assistant: Robin Paravecchio. Shot at: 3021 Rothdell Trail, Los Angeles, California, October 2010.

Click the photos below to view galleries of photos shot by the cast, writers and crew:

 

My role as the writer/director of Universal City was to articulate what happened inside Jim Morrison’s former home while I lived there with the cast and crew for four days and nights. I found the house on Craigslist, as a vacation rental, a few months earlier. The script was written during the first night in the house, when I stayed there by myself. Wandering around the cavernous hillside cabin with a still camera looking for a good room to set a scene about two siblings simulating psychedelic phenomenon by whacking each other in the face with a magnetically-charged spoon, I finally considered my own presence in relationship to Jim Morrison's--that is, my relationship to a dead guy who's famous, and that I was paying an inflated long-weekend’s rent to give myself permission to act as much like a debased rock star as I wanted to.

This was exacerbated by the current owner's redecorating, playing up on Morrison's history and its potential commercial viability as a vacation rental. With the oil-painted faux-Warhols of the Doors' frontman, cliche´ Native American-style ornamental drums and feathery dreamcatchers all over the place, and even an early-90s hardcore VHS porno cued up in the master bedroom's VCR, the house seemed set up to host a tourist's really romantic gangbang: "Come live on LOVE STREET!" the ad on Craigslist said. 

The plot borrows from the tacit expectation for houseguests to reinvent themselves as ghosts, using footage of actors and frequent collaborators Roxie Fuller and Ben Smith’s previous acting work as inspiration for the film's characters.*

This film has was made for the screening Against Gravity, at ICA, London, curated by Catherine Borra. It has been subsequently screened at das Weiss Haus, Vienna, Austria,  as part of Bettina Brunner's Rock My Religion, In Context series.

*From a 1995 episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 called ‘Squash It’, in which Ben was a guest star, and the movie Manic (2001), starring Don Cheadle, in which Roxie had a featured role.  Ayana Hampton plays Don Cheadle’s fictional daughter, Grace, in Universal City.