As with most of my films, TRACER started out as a very different creature than what it became in the end. Initially, I was exploring the “the hunter vs. the hunted” theme in a two-character crime story about a detective tracking an elusive anarchist plotting to attack the government. As the seed idea, I knew from experience it would inevitably sprout and grow into something else and probably something more truthful than my self-created ideas and plans. I knew it was going somewhere but I just didn't know where which was also what made it worth following.-- A.A.





Douglas Allen as the Tracer undergoing a trance of remote viewing

Remote viewing. I ham aware ofthe ubiquitous surveillance culture across the USA and beyond and thought it might be fun to look at this phenomena through the lens of mid-20th century Russian ESP experiments with remote viewing used to psychically spy on others from afar. The USA soon began conducting their own PSI-experiments which included dosing unsuspecting soldiers with LSD to determine the drug's military benefits. This turned into an epic fail after the acid-dosed soldiers lay down their weapons and rolled around on the ground laughing their asses off. All this inspired the idea of C-9, a Russian designer drug promising to amplify perception, empathy, and increase the capacity for remote viewing. My former detective character now became a C-9 dosing “tracer” (Douglas Allen), a remote viewing hitman paid by the Russian mafia to track and terminate an American businessman who absconded with mafia money years ago. The hunter/hunted theme returns but now transformed.

Escape. For many years, I have been fascinated with this idea of escaping into reality, rather than attempting to escape from reality which I have found impossible. My ongoing experiences of surrendering to What Is has become for me a kind of amor fati, a love affair with fate and of romancing existence itself. The character of Leo (Rick Wilding) has been trying to escape reality for years until that reality finally catches up with him, surrenders to it and escapes into reality. Leo sails his yacht up and down the USA west coast occasionally docking on the Columbia river near Portland to visit his wife, Corinna. What?! Yacht. Where do I find a yacht? The Muses threw me a curve ball here. As it turned out Rick Wilding is also a sailor with a good friend Bud who owns a 40 ft. yacht and whose generosity let us film there. Though I don't understand it, and don't really need to, this kind of thing happens often enough while movie-making to accept it as part of the process where fate plays a hand.

 



Crazy or psychic? Another theme I've been haunted by for decades. Polly (Kasia Caravello) appears in this story as a highly sensitive woman who channels her great, great grandmother - a Polish seer murdered after labelled a witch - in her monetized "Oracle vlog". Polly enters these intense trances that rattle her nerves which she attempts to calm in various ways. Will Hall's "Outside Mental Health" book of stories and interviews with those misdiagnosed with mental illness informed and inspired this theme. I also drew from a personal experience at 25, something clinical psychiatrists might label 'dissociative personality disorder' or maybe even schitzophrenia: I started seeing visions and hearing voices. A friend of mine suggested I talk with this guy, Michael Symonds, about my experience. We met and I told him about my visions and voices. After a few studied moments, he said, "You're not crazy. You're psychic." He told me that my psychic abilities were out of control and that he could help me manage them and, if I wanted, he'd teach me to see and read human auras as a profession. I trained with Michael and after ten years, I quit the aura-reading business. During this decade I also conducted a series of remote viewing experiments that were not entirely unsuccessful.

Family drama. During his world travels over seven years, the character of Erik (Ben Ervin) returns home to Portland Oregon with high hopes of a family reunion. This character came to me through a series of memories -- arriving in Toronto as a Finnish immigrant at the age of three, migrating further westward seven years later to Los Angeles and being invited by my grandmother, at the age of 28, to visit my home country of Finland. She had arranged a series of meetings with my distant relatives all across the country. I was enthralled by the dream of returning to the land of my ancestors. But fate intervened when I arrived at Helsinki airport and unexpectedly taken into custody by the Finnish militia. WTF. My longing to reunite with long lost family turned to horror as my captors informed me that I was to enter military service; as a Finnish man under the age of 30 it was my national duty. Traumatized, I escaped back to California. Memories of these frustrated family needs informed Erik's longing for a family he knew and loved as a boy but that no longer existed as a man.

 


"Soror Mystica" ParaTheatrical ReSearch, December 2017

The Muses dialogue. Since 2010 all my films have balanced heavily-veiled autobiographical influences with the ineffable signals and whispers of, what I have come to call, the Muses dialogue. These are not my muses (they belong to nobody!) but the Muses, autonomous archetypes I encountered over a ten-year somatic exploration (2009-2019) of this phenomena through group paratheatrical research. These nonverbal, internal Muse dialogues tend to arrive as images, sounds, ineffable impressions finding translation through the multi-tiered medium of cinema. This process has become my kind of madness ever since. Speaking with other artists, I hear similar stories about what calls them or guides their artistic development. We are the mad ones; everyone else is normal. Kidding; not kidding.

- Antero Alli

 


 

STILLS FROM THE FILM

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