For a brief moment in the dystopian comedy Visioneers (2007), disgruntled office worker George Washington Winsterhammerman (Zach Galifianakis) plunks himself down in front of the television, hoping to smother his ever-growing anxiety with a soothing escape. Instead, he's confronted with the televised antics of a deranged action hero, Mack Luster (Ryan McCann), valiant and violent opponent of "Chayos" (the film's name for the free-floating unease destabilizing this placid world and causing people to literally explode). Assaulting rather than protecting the innocent (the "villains" include a terrified old lady and a little girl with ice cream), Luster provides an amusing subversion of 80s action hero cliches. He's a grinning, muscled-up do-gooder who clearly believes his antisocial actions represent some glorious triumph over evil.
This scene (which you can watch on YouTube) was tangential to the rest of the film, yet Luster's over-the-top antics proved popular with viewers and stuck with the film's director Jared Drake. Drake decided to spin the character off into his own story, Mack Luster, but with a twist. No longer simply the symbol of a world gone crazy, the Mack Luster of this new project will be the only sane person onscreen, a reminder of what was valuable and lovable about 80s action heroes. He's a throwback to an age of older, less self-conscious American icons and his sincerity make him a fish out of water in the present - albeit one we sympathize with. Drake plans to turn the Visioneers version of Luster on its head, preserving the "awesome cheese" quotient while encouraging us to laugh with, rather than at, our hero by the end of the movie.
I was contacted by Jared as he prepared to launch his Kickstarter campaign; while I haven't been doing many interviews lately, this concept - and Drake's intentions behind it - piqued my curiosity (plus Jared grew up in the Twin Peaks hometown, a bit of synchronicity given my slew of upcoming Peaks and Lynch). Via a 90-minute Google chat, we discussed his film Visioneers, his decision to place an 80s icon in the present and the philosophy behind that, and why he's chosen crowdfunding and sees it as the future of filmmaking (this was one of the most fascinating parts of the discussion for me - I believe that when it comes, the next Easy Rider or Star Wars-type game-changer will drop online, not in theaters). If you'd like to support the Mack Luster campaign, or just find out more, it launched today: