Chicago Film Festival: The Replacement

The Replacement

The Replacement, starring the Midwest Independent Film Festival’s own Mike McNamara, is one of the shorts to make its world premiere during the Chicago Style: City and State shorts presentation at the Chicago International Film Festival.

“What I love about this script is that it packs so much into 15 minutes,” McNamara tells Solzy at the Movies.  “Action, satire, humor, suspense and even a little bit of romance.  And it’s so timely.  And we shot most of the film BEFORE the election, ironically enough.”

McNamara stars as sanitation engineer Abe Stagsen, who watches as his clone becomes the first clone president of the United States.  Not pleased that one of his clones is now the present, Stagsen wants to show the rest of the world that he still matters.  The idea doesn’t seem so crazy after after the success of Orphan Black on BBC America.  McNamara plays the clones to a darker extent than what was scene years ago in the Michael Keaton-starring Multiplicity.

Written and directed by Sean Miller, it remains to be determined as to whether or not The Replacement serves as a pilot to a series or as a concept for a feature-length film remains to be determined but McNamara’s performance is up there with Orphan Black‘s award-winning star Tatiana Maslany.

“Oddly enough, I didn’t study any other films,” McNamara says when asked about other films relating to clones.  “I just went for it and focused on differentiating these characters distinctly but also giving them some commonalities.  And the cinematography, the production design, the VFX were so critical to giving these unique relationships that life they needed to drive this film.

“I think it also helped that we shot this film in five straight overnight shoots, so the nerves naturally begin to fray as it hits 4:30 am on Day 4 and your body starts to kick into survival mode, which is where Abe finds himself for much of this film.”

Miller also spoke to Solzy at the Movies about the film and how the idea was conceived and confirmed that The Replacement could be expanded into a feature-length film.

The Replacement came about through my interest in how social movements and technology often moves faster than our laws can keep up with them,” Miller said. “This has led us to incredible leaps forward but also lots of unintended consequences as well.  Looking forward to our drive towards AI and genetic engineering, it seemed like many of these things are inevitable and that the race to be first will most likely take priority over doing it right and responsibly.  That cold become real bad news for us, where the species isn’t wiped out by a bomb or massive famine but by us simply replacing ourselves with something ‘better.’

“The more I delved into the idea, the more absurd and comedic it felt, and so we took the premise to absurd heights while still exploring all the ramifications of it. We chose cloning because the technology already exists since the 90s (remember dolly the sheep) and it allowed us to put a human face on it. It’s one of many possibilities down the road but it makes the case for us sleepwalking into our own extinction.

“We think the film could be expanded into a feature length film and the script is underway, expanding on many of the ideas and themes that the short briefly hints at and really showing how society would get to this place.”

Director Sean Miller is expected to be on hand when The Replacement premieres on Sunday, October 15, at 12:15 PM during the Chicago Style: City and State shorts program.  The shorts presentation will encore on October 18th at 3:15 PM, and October 25th at 5:45 PM.  For more information, click here.  Following Chicago, the short heads to the Austin Film Festival, where it screens as a part of the Reality Check presentation.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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