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Synchronium Films and The New Midnight Movie

The Imp of Satan

The tradition of the midnight movie goes as far back as the 50s, when local television stations would screen genre films often made with extremely low budgets and for extremely late night audiences. There was often a host that would serve as both a guide for the night’s activities and deliverer of ironic asides. It is a tradition that for 10 years has been upheld by San Francisco’s own Queen of the Night, Peaches Christ, and it is about to experience an even newer spin at the hands of Flynn Witmeyer and his film Imp of Satan.

In fact, it is a new spin that actually goes back to Peaches Christ and her annual San Francisco Underground Short Film Festival. Witmeyer created the production company Synchronium Films in June of 2006 in order to create a film for his entry into the festival, which incidentally takes place this weekend at Landmark’s Bridge Theatre. However, as a first time filmmaker, he concedes, “Finding investors proved to be very difficult, so I ultimately decided to revise my initial budget and other pre-production materials to fit with what I could sponsor personally." It is not a project that he could have done single-handedly, however.

The fledgling film producer relied heavily on the generosity of his friends, and though the project went off without any initial financial rewards, Witmeyer insists that the outcome was worth its while. “It’s amazing what we were able to accomplish with so many restrictions. What's funny is that sometimes, even though we were working very hard, the atmosphere felt almost like an extended party.” That atmosphere of hard work and fun is a vibe that is apparent in the finished product.

Shot in conjunction with award winning cinematographer Joseph Seif and in HD digital video instead of traditional film, Imp of Satan had its premiere screening at the Red Vic Movie House back at the end of June. Far from being a normal fright fest, it aims to satirize the myth of homosexuals as sinners and monsters in the eyes of God.

Attendees at the event got to see a rare film before it screened anywhere else. Described as a “cutting edge, original Midnight Movie event,” the film will receive its second screening at the Red Vid next weekend as part of another Midnight Movie extravaganza. The event promises to include live performances, door prizes, a behind-the-scenes featurette as well as a Q&A session afterwards with the cast and crew.

After these initial screenings, Witmeyer hopes to submit Imp of Satan in further festivals. The opportunity of attracting investors for future projects is enticing at this point. But he admits, “Even if [the film] doesn’t make it into a festival, there is always the option of self-distributing; while being arduous and time-consuming, it could definitely yield funds that would allow us to pursue further projects.” If there is one lesson to take from this initial filmmaking endeavor, Witmeyer explains it as this: “By now I’m familiar with what can executed on a low budget, and not worried about that compromising the quality of our productions.”

With one successful feature under its name, Synchronium Films plans to continue producing more cult films in the form of gory, funny and satirical pieces. Witmeyer is currently working on a new script called Roadkill, with pre-production set to begin in early November. It is about a group of friends who go on an ill advised road trip complete with grisly encounters. Witmeyer’s friend (and star of Imp of Satan) Christopher Sugarman is currently working on a script entitled bTweaker with an Axe. He describes it as being about “a group of students shooting an amateur film in an apartment building occupied by a drug-addled maniac.”

Their mission and view remains to produce films whose real life characters, although going through unrealistic and frightening situations, will be able to show us a little of ourselves. Perhaps in a fitting nod to the genre in which he works, Witmeyer acknowledges, “As you can see, we're primarily interested in horror and suspense. We don't take ourselves too seriously though, and there will definitely be elements of camp and humor in all of our projects.” Audiences and fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

For tickets and more information, please visit the official website: