The Birth of a Cult Film: ‘The Record Keeper’

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The Record Keeper, a Steampunk Biblical saga, telling Bible stories from the perspective of the angels, had its world premiere at the Raindance Film Festival on the 26th of September. The film, once a web series, has had a slightly bumpier ride than most on its way to the big screen.

It must have been quite a blow for director, writer and producer Jason Satterlund when the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists decided to suspend the release of The Record Keeper, the 11 episode web series they had funded. At the time of the announcement all 11 episodes had been shot and completed after six intense weeks of filming. Satterlund had indeed lost his funding but he did still have his fans. Fans that started an entire online campaign, Save The Record Keeper, on various social media platforms to raise awareness about the web series.

It was as a result of this campaign that post production was able to continue on the web series. And it was this level of engagement by the fans that astonished and then pushed into action Louise Hart who ultimately became one of the film’s producers. Satterlund had already got onto her radar when he won the Geekie Awards in the One Shots category, beating Stan Lee who was due to receive a lifetime achievement award. Jason already had an idea that the web series could actually become a feature as he had “inadvertently” created the feature when he organised a screening of the 11 episodes and showed them back to back.

He openly admits that they did little more in the editing suite by way of converting the web series into a feature other than edit the episodes together. The reason? Funding. Besides, adds Satterlund; “it’s a matter of when do you stop going back and playing around with it. And after all, it is ultimately owned by someone else.” The Record Keeper was initially going to be submitted to the Raindance Web Fest, but as Satterlund already had it in feature film format, they tried to the film festival which ultimately led to the world premiere on the 26th of September.

The Steampunk look of the film’s universe is one of the most striking things about The Record Keeper. The ultimate aim of the Steampunk look was to create a vision of Heaven that was very different from the usual cinematic representations – and think what you like of Steampunk, you have to admit it’s original. Satterlund points out, laughing, that he didn’t even know that it was the look he was going for until he described it to his wife, who in turn pointed out that the look he was after had a name. After that, inspiration flowed from a number of quarters; location-wise, the inspiration came from an old Victorian Bank Vault Satterlund found himself in one day when location hunting. The vault became a great part of the inspiration of the set that was later built. Another key location was Horseshoe Bend, Arizona where one of the closing scenes involving Raina and The Counsellor were shot. The Record Keeper was the first film to be shot in this rather stunning canyon and Satterlund and his crew had only one day to film there, concentrating on close-ups when the tourist crowds were too numerous and having to change angles every couple of hours to accommodate the movements of the sun.

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Satterlund is equally candid about the fact that The Record Keeper project has pretty much run its course, as he currently only owns the rights to show the feature in festivals. But, if the story of the Record Keeper has come to a close, this does not mean this is the only story this universe contains. Satterlund’s next project, The Planet Tender, tells the story of an angel who must protect an evil man. If the taster we have already received of the Steampunk angels is anything to go by, it should make for an interesting ride.

Read our review of The Record Keeper here.

A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Sedef moved to London three years ago to get her MA in Film Studies and never quite got round to going back home. As she once worked in a DVD company and watched films for a living, she started a personal blog (essiespeaks.blogspot.com) as a short answer to being constantly asked “watched anything interesting recently?” and loved blogging so much she just kept typing . She is the biggest Tarantino fan she knows and would be unable to choose a single film of his as a favourite.