A High Plains, neo-Gothic story of a city-slicker reporter hunting out a scoop in a brutal, gruesome, rural landscape.
VERAL is a darkly comic, rural fantasy tinged with the apocalyptic dust of the High Plains of Colorado. It’s a remote and desolate land where you take care of yourself or die waiting for help. The scrape to survive is starkly played out by person and animal alike. Thematic dichotomies at work in the film are predator and prey, life and death, reality and illusion.
A hawk looks down on a snake slithering across an empty highway, priming to kill. Haze, a capitol-city newspaper man, has been sent to the High Plains of Colorado to scope out rural local color for a back page article. But in this dusty landscape of endless terrain, the only lead he finds is an old farmer wandering the lot of a heritage museum that displays what looks more like torture devices than farming implements. The farmer points him in the direction of a town down the road where he might find Old Man Ivey and his multispecies miracle trap. Instead, Haze meets Alicia, teenage guardian of the Veral “Wax” Museum, who suggests they look for the trap inside. But not before touring the never-ending corridors lined with Veral’s denizens dating back to the 19th century, preserved with a superior family tanning formula. This is not the country flavor Haze expected. He is not allowed to take pictures. But when Alicia steps into a tableau amongst her own dead family, Haze reflexively captures her distant gaze. Alarmed by the invasion, Alicia snatches the camera, sees herself, and ends the tour. Sitting on the hood of his car in a barrel ditch, reporting back to his editor’s voice mail, Haze snaps back. He’s not sure what he saw. He has no proof. Where was Ivey and his trap? He goes back, he’ll get his scoop. Inside he finds Alicia, the “No Pictures” sign broken at her feet. She allows him to now photograph her. What he is looking for and what she offers may not add up.
Erin Harper, Writer and Director
Erin Harper is a filmmaker who makes films that interpret her rural upbringings in Colorado. As part of that signature, she is embarking on collaborations with Colorado author Gregory Hill, adapting his first novel, EAST OF DENVER. Her directorial debut of a narrative short, VERAL is based on Hill’s essay, “Now Museum, Now You Don’t.” Erin, as a one-woman band is currently developing an observational farm series. She teaches workshops with a rural group of women, Las Estrellas. She recently codirected and edited the feature documentary, MY WILD HEART. Erin has worked as a cinematographer with the acclaimed and late filmmaker Barbara Hammer.
Adam Benn, Cinematographer
Adam Benn is a member of the local 600 as an assistant cameraman, working on a wide variety of television and cinema; gaining experience from assisting Rogier Stoffers ASC, Nancy Schreiber ASC, and the famed Bobby Bukowski. Adam was awarded for outstanding cinematography on his first feature film SOMEWHERE WEST (directed by David Merek). He was the cinematographer on MY BEST DAY (directed by Erin Greenwell), premiering at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. His most recent cinematographer credit is on BOOM FOR REAL: THE LATE TEENAGE YEARS OF JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (directed by Sara Driver/Magnolia Films & Magnet Releasing).
Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber, Diorama Artists
Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber are world-renowned, Brooklyn based Diorama Artists.
As an artist, I have always taken inspiration from my surroundings. I grew up in the 1970’s in rural western Kansas. Every season brought with it a new disaster or weather phenomenon. As a child I personally experienced tornados, floods, blizzards and drought. I was never scared or upset by them because I had my parents to worry about the implications. Rather, these events brought excitement to a life that by most people’s standards was quite dull. I also grew up on steady diet of 1970’s television and cinema. Saturday night meant the Carroll Burnett Show, popcorn and a can of coke. My small Kansas town of Norton, population 3500, had a single movie house that ran Disney features on Saturday afternoon, and in the evenings it showed the genre that was popular at the time, dystopian cinema. It was in this small movie house reeking of popcorn and sticky floors that I was mesmerized by movies such as Planet of the Apes, Towering Inferno, Earthquake, and Airport‘76. As a six year old viewing these kinds of movies, I believe it had a profound effect on the art I create today. My work to date can be described as disaster mixed with subtle humor.
Because my work features a model and not a real place, it creates a safe space to think about these larger ideas of disaster. Devoid of people, these spaces become meditative and full of possibilities. The details in the buildings seem more pronounced and it is these details that point back to the humans who created them. Not merely structures to protect us from wind and rain, they are examples of man’s creativity, skill, and ambition. Beauty and design marry with function to create something greater than the sum of its parts. The viewer is drawn into the scene, allowing them to become fully immersed by the architecture and artifacts of the modern world. Time and Mother Nature become the great equalizer in these deserted spaces. Grand cultural chambers acquire the same gritty patina as the local laundromat or industrial control room. While somber at first glance, these details reveal the optimism, ambitions, and even humor of the previous inhabitants. — from http://www.lorinix.net/about
Lori’s love of detail and her motifs’ naturalistic coloring give the impression of reality, which, however, begins to falter on closer inspection. This game of confusing fiction with reality is as typical of Lori Nix’s work as her penchant for narration. She has the ability to set up pictorial narratives as restrained in their dramaturgy as they are rich in detail, with the result that the photograph becomes the catalyst for the story to be continued in the observer’s subjective imagination….Her photographs make clear that man is not the measure of all things and consequently not the measure of the world. — THE POWER OF NATURE IN A WORLD WITHOUT PEOPLE: On the Photographic Visions of Lori Nix by Dr. Bettina Paust