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"The Visitants" (1986) -

     Photo is courtesy of Rick Sloane

by Bone Jawnson

There is a certain level of "fuck you" to the major motion picture industry built into low-budget and no-budget films. The more films of this nature that I view, the more I see that the only thing keeping enthusiastic non-budget filmmakers and Hollywood superproducers apart is high-level gatekeeping. In my opinion, the low/no-budget DIY culture fuels the drive of everyday people to fulfill their dreams. If you want to make a movie, just make it. Smartphones can be used as movie cameras and editing software is widely available online. If you need actors and extras, ask your friends, family, or classmates for help.

"The Visitants," essentially, is a story about a teenager who steals his alien neighbor's ray gun and the ensuing chase for them to retrieve it. Between the mayhem of keeping the ray gun secret, teenage antics occur in school, at a party, and in other settings you'd find in a 1980s low-budget thriller.

Lubbock and Exeter with their "boarder."
Photo is courtesy of Rick Sloane

There are various elements that stand out in this film. First, the lead actor, Marcus Vaughter, who plays Eric, sells his role. He expressed his emotions very well and made me believe that he was hiding a potentially dangerous weapon. Secondly, the filming sets and locations stood out. Several real locations were used, and the film did not feel cheap to watch. However, if you pay close attention to the main aliens, Lubbock and Exeter's spacecraft, you'll notice some picnic plates from the 1950s were used as part of their control panels. Third, this film was produced at a cost of $8500. Not $8,500,000, but $8500. Rick pieced together props and wardrobe, found sets, wrote the script, directed, and produced all while controlling the rights to this film. If that is not a DIY, I do not know what it is.

As stated in my previous article, Rick Sloane films are pieces of art made by a filmmaker that was hell-bent and determined to make their movie regardless of what conventional blockbuster filmmaking dictated. I encourage you to watch "The Visistants" through the lens of a mid-20s something person with a vision to buck the system and produce a feature-length film for under $10,000 and crush that accomplishment. As I continue to flesh out ideas for my own short films and run into roadblocks I think, "What would Rick do?"

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