Jason Tomaric’s sci-fi epic, “cl.ONE”, a film about post WWWIII human cloning, features 3,000 extras, 48 locations, 650 digital effects. Not bad considering that it was made by one guy in his parents’ basement.
We spoke with Jason to find out just how he pulled it off.
What brought about the making of “cl.ONE”?
I was always the kind of kid with a big imagination who, instead of watching television, would create fantasy worlds and write stories about the characters, environments and technologies. I was always fascinated by the human condition in times and places other than our own. Once I was old enough and digital filmmaking technologies started to empower the masses, I realized that movies were a great way for me to tell my stories in the worlds I created. I suppose “cl.ONE” represents all my childhood dreams and fantasies.”
On your website, it states that this is “one of the most ambitious independent movies made in the history of cinema.” How so?
“cl.ONE” is a 113-minute long movie with 3,000 costumed extras and 650 state-of-the-art digital effects shot in over 48 locations including NASA, nuclear power plants, cathedrals, underground caverns… all for less than $25,000. Based on the cost-to-production value ratio, I think “cl.ONE” is one of the most ambitious independent movies ever made. The fact that an entire city rallied behind my vision of this project and hundreds of very skilled filmmakers invested so heavily of their time and talents is why “cl.ONE” is such a special project.
Is a post World War III sci-fi epic something you’ve always wanted to make, but was only recently allowed to due to digital technology?
I chose the setting of a post-apocalyptic future because it served the story. Allegories and parables are great ways of making social statements without preaching to an audience by masking controversial topics with a sci-fi twist. My primary goal in making “cl.ONE” was not to make a statement, but rather to make a thought-provoking and entertaining movie.
I always enjoyed watching movies that have a hidden, greater plot that isn’t revealed until the final plot twist. Then, the second time you watch the film, you see a completely different movie with the knowledge of what’s REALLY going on. This is how I wrote “cl.ONE.” The audience is dumped in the middle of the story which doesn’t come full circle until the end… but knowing the cyclical nature of the plot makes for a completely different viewing experience the second time around.
Does the idea of cloning scare the hell out of you?
Cloning raises the question about the essence of what it is to be human. We’re tinkering with the fundamental principles of what makes our species unique without completely understanding how our bodies function. The operation of the brain, or the essence of what makes us living, sentient beings, is so perplexing that the greatest scientific and medical minds have only figured out a small sliver of what makes us tick. And yet, we’re trying to recreate… and genetically alter… the essence of who we are.
What was the most difficult aspect of making “Cl.one”? Did it ever feel like you weren’t going to be able to pull off all that you did?
The most difficult aspect of making “cl.ONE?” Um… everything. Seriously though, the sheer logistics of producing a movie of this magnitude was exceptionally challenging. One weekend we’d be shooting a ballroom scene with 450 extras in tuxedos and evening gowns with a symphony orchestra and on-screen catering for 800 people, then the next weekend, we’d be shooting with the national guard and 200 extras in a refugee camp we built in an old construction zone with stunts and explosions, then the next day, we’d be at NASA, a quarter mile underground in a secret zero-gravity testing facility where we built a cloning lab. And I was the only producer who single-handedly coordinated and secured everything from my parents basement in a small Ohio town. That took a lot of work. But being prepared and organized made each shooting day successful!
“cl.ONE” was my first movie. I wrote it when I was 19, and started directing it 22-years-old. As the writer, producer, director, cinematographer and editor, I learned everything about making a movie on this production… and I never went to film school. In addition, none of the actors had ever acted before (and their first role was on a huge effects-laden sci-fi movie!) and none of the crew had ever set foot on set before. This production was literally crafted by a bunch of green, passionate and very talented people who believed in the vision! So with hindsight always being 20/20, we could have done a lot of things better or more efficiently, but when I see the final film, I am very, very proud of the dedication, efforts and determination put forth by everyone involved. “cl.ONE” is a movie built on the vision and passion of a thousands of people… a passion so intense, it literally drips from the screen.
“cl.ONE’s” world premiere will be at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, TX. Reviews of the movie have been terrific so far and we’re very excited to share this project with audiences!
What are your future plans for the film?
We have been talking with numerous domestic and foreign distributors, all of whom are very excited about “cl.ONE.” We’ve set a precedent about what can be done with digital technologies and a lot of vision. I hope “cl.ONE” is an inspiration to filmmakers everywhere that producing a quality movie IS possible, even if you don’t have a big budget.
Any upcoming projects?
I just released a 3-DVD series called “How to Make a Hollywood Caliber Movie on a Budget of Next to Nothing,” where I produced another feature film using the same model we used in making “cl.ONE,” and documented the entire process. The result is an 8-hour interactive DVD and CD-ROM series that walks the viewer through every step of the movie-making process, using our techniques as a guide for them to produce their own film. You can learn more about this series at www.filmschoolondvd.com.
I also have several projects in development and scripts that are ready to go!
For more info, visit the “cl.ONE” official website.