Incorporating lost footage from a 1984 film, Fallout, this new film continues the story of its main character, Alex, a recluse living off the grid in a remote section of the Adirondacks for the last 35 years. After a nuclear explosion, he returns to New York City fearing the world has ended.
Shocked to discover it hasn’t, Alex must absorb the historical, technological and cultural changes since he left. From smartphones to 9/11, he retraces his NYC footsteps, leading us into the depths of a very personal story – the heartbreaking fallout of the life he left behind.
Utilizing the same actors from the original film, The characters of this story play themselves, blending truth and fiction in surreal harmony.
VISUAL FILM REFERENCES
Feature length drama in pre-production.
Fallout (2019) is a feature length drama incorporating lost footage from a 1984 film, Fallout, continues the story of its main character, Alex, a reclusive mountain man living off the grid in a remote section of the Adirondacks for the last three and a half decades. After he witnesses a nuclear explosion, he is forced to retreat from the wilderness as fallout rains down on him.
Leaving his mountain home, he encounters what appears to be a post-apocalyptic world. Believing the world has ended, he returns to New York City fearing the worst.
Upon his return, Alex discovers that in fact the world has not ended, and life in Manhattan is going on as usual.
A journey of discovery, Alex must first absorb the historical, technological and cultural changes of the last three and a half decades – from social media to 9/11 – as he retraces his footsteps, leading us into the depths of a very personal story – the fallout of the life he left behind.
The original film first plays as flashbacks, but is ultimately revealed to be an actual unfinished movie, left in the care of a friend and actor in the film. In an interesting play on fiction and reality, the characters of this story play versions of themselves, introducing an alternate reality where truth and fiction blend in surreal harmony.
Co-Writer/Director: Jessica Janos
Co-Writer/Lead Actor: Ron King
Portraying himself: Paul D’Amato
Portraying herself: Karsen Liotta
Portraying himself: Melcourt Poux
Costume Designer: Swinda Reichelt
Scientific Advisor: Professor John Ellison
Budget and Schedule
The Real History of Fallout by Ron King
While a college student in 1979 I wrote a letter to U.S. president Jimmy Carter expressing my concern about the potential of nuclear war and urging him to do what he could to pull back on the stockpiles and reduce the possibility of conflict. I received a nice letter in return acknowledging my concern. Then when president Ronald Reagan came into power and began a nuclear build up it truly felt like the world was headed in the wrong direction and that the possibility of armed conflict on a nuclear scale was indeed a possibility. The policy of deterrence and mutually assured destruction felt like a madman’s game. It was terrifying.
After college I moved to New York City where I scratched out an existence on the Lower East Side and spent days doing street theater with my old college buddies. I felt like I’d finally found a voice for the frustration and fear we were feeling though it was articulated in a broad commedia del arte style.
As an actor I’d already had a couple of dashed shots at the big time. In my final weeks of college I was cast by director Tony Scott in a feature film version of Alive!, a gripping story of survival that I had devoured at age 16. Eventually I was told the project had been shelved by Paramount due to civil conflicts in the desired Latin American locations. Years later the film was made starring a young Ethan Hawke. Then in 1982 I found myself in the final 22-hour audition for Francis Coppola’s The Outsiders. Needless to say, I didn’t get the part. Even with my failure to be part of these projects, I felt like I had the potential to be a film actor so I made the possibly foolhardy decision to cast myself in a leading role and reached for my college graduation nest egg to fund the project.
In 1984 I teamed up with new friend and editor Stephen Plumlee and together we developed a script that swirled around the environment of Loisida. It was a simple love story about a young couple reuniting and breaking up infused with the apocalyptic musings of a basement dwelling guru who possessed the disturbing ability to materialize in one’s reflection. My earlier imaginings of nuclear annihilation came home to roost in a Lower East Side that in 1982 looked like a nuclear bomb had hit it anyway.
With very few resources we were determined to shoot the film by any means necessary. We cast it with friends and new actors who we found through the traditional audition process. We wanted the film to look great in black and white and our production manager Gulie Schnitzler introduced us to Richard Eliano a talented young DP who was just getting his feet wet in the business. We built sets in Paul D’Amato’s loft and we filmed guerilla style all over New York even shooting inside the World Trade Towers and at the famed Life Café in the East Village.
Out of funds and with a rough cut in hand, we applied for support from arts organizations and miraculously we received a modest contribution from The Brooklyn Arts & Culture Association (BACA). This lifted our spirits considerably but in the end the project languished…until now.
Images 1-2, taken from footage from a scene in 1984 where Alex looks down at Trinity Church from The World Trade Center intercut with:
Images 3-4, are Storyboard frames from the scene in 2019 where Alex, returning to New York City after 35 years living cut off from the world as an isolated recluse, discovers the Twin Towers missing from the skyline without any idea why.
Having lived as a recluse in the wilds of the Adirondacks for 35 years, Alex has sustained himself off the land in a timeless, technology free world.
When we meet Alex, he looks more like a mountain man in the 1700s than anyone we’ve ver seen today.
The inspiration for Alex – Ron King’s uncle, Martin Vorys
I first became aware of my Uncle Martin through a wolverine skin. My mother regaled my five-year-old self with stories of her brother braving the wilds of Alaska, trapping and building his own cabin in the wilderness. I was mesmerized by these tales and quickly decided to join him. I packed a tiny suitcase with a shirt and announced to my parents that I was off to Alaska to join Uncle Martin. They realized I was serious and accompanied me, walking four blocks with the suitcase to the nearest road junction. I bid them farewell and proceeded a few yards when it finally dawned on me that I had no idea how to get to Alaska from Illinois on foot. I turned around and walked back with my parents to our house and decided to stay. However, my spirit had already left the station and I continued to dream of living in the wilds, isolated from the rest of the world with my Uncle Martin. It was a dream that never died.
In a Fellini inspired moment, Alex stumbles across a model in an elaborate couture gown Instagramming herself on the docks near The Staten Island Ferry. Recognizing him as an evacuee from the mining explosion upstate and with the alien technology in the palm of her hand, she offers to help him locate his long lost friend.
The Inspiration behind the Disaster – Project Gasbuggy
The inciting incident of Fallout is a manmade natural disaster – one I could describe as the Exxon Valdez meets Three Mile Island. The film deals with nuclear explosives, environmental science, and fracking. It is a fictional story but based heavily in research I have done on nuclear explosions, and nuclear fracking experiments performed in the late sixties. The tragedy I wanted to create had to be horrendous but if you turned on the news you might just feel was another day in America.
In 1967 the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission partnered with the Bureau of Mines, and El Paso Natural Gas Company to test in Project Gas Buggy to test fracking for Natural Gas with nuclear bombs, as a “peaceful use of Nuclear Explosives.” Since nuclear explosives were more powerful they required a smaller drill hole compared to traditional explosives.