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Preview: The Empire Strikes Bank at Rockwell Hall

Jason Klinger is a local filmmaker who recently worked as a gaffer on Kris Hulbert’s The Perfect House. Over the past seven years, he’s worked on his own short films which are to be screened this Sunday at 6:30 at Rockwell Hall Performing Arts Center. The three films to be screened are Homage, Zombie Loves Vampire, and The Empire Strikes Bank.

Homage concerns a groups of sinister femme fatales that engage in ritual sacrifices. The movie shows Klinger’s first cinematic steps while working with Buffalo native Tim Reiley. Klinger explains, “The inspiration was basically that my pervert friend had some goth chicks willing to dress skimpily and wanted to write a story for them. Humble beginnings.” Everybody has to get their start somewhere. James Cameron started with Battle Beyond the Stars and Martin Scorsese got his break with Boxcar Bertha. Should it really be any different with any aspiring filmmaker?

Zombie Loves Vampire plays on the monster-vs.-monster concept that started with the iconic Universal brawl between Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolfman, and continued with the sub-par pairings of Alien/Predator and Freddy/Jason. And instead, it tells of a growing necromance between a member of the undead and a member of the living dead.

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Given the trend of pairing on-screen monsters that was rampant in 2007, Klinger stated, “The ‘-VS-‘ film was the big thing in Hollywood. I don’t know. I was just fed up with it and said, ‘You know what? What about love?’ I seem to remember a certain man I respect saying all you need is love and another saying ‘can’t we all just get along’ and it hit me.”

The Empire Strikes Bank marks an instance where truth truly outweirds fiction. Based on a real-life incident in Setauket, NY, the movie depicts a bank robber who donned the outfit of the Sith Lord himself while pulling off a daring heist. The incident itself was a favorite among news outlets.

Klinger (photo) was not so much surprised by the attention by the mass media as he was by the lack of attention on the part of comedic outlets. “Checking the other major news networks I noticed that neither Saturday Night Live nor Mad TV or any other sketch based news group had touched this gem of a story.” Smelling satirical blood in the proverbial waters, Klinger made a short film and it is the centerpiece of Sunday’s presentation.

The event starts at 6:30pm and will finish up around 8:30pm. Admission is only three dollars. The event also marks Klinger’s farewell before venturing off to Los Angeles to further his career. While this may seem like a genre film-based city losing a talent, think of Klinger as another advocate to promote our city as prime land for major productions.

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