With writer / director Carter Smith’s supernatural horror/love story Jamie Marks Is Dead having just played the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, we thought it time to chat with the filmmaker regarding the feature, as well as to bring you three exclusive stills and a clip.
Based on the Christopher Barzak novel One for Sorrow, Jamie Marks Is Dead documents the discovery of the body of the titular character (portrayed by Noah Silver) in a small wintry town. Adam (Cameron Monaghan), the star of his cross-country team, becomes fascinated with Jamie, a boy nobody really knew or interacted with, except occasionally to bully him. When Jamie’s ghost begins to appear both to Adam and Gracie (Morgan Saylor), the classmate who discovered the body, Adam is caught between two worlds. He has a budding romance with Gracie, but he also feels a deep connection to Jamie, who brings him closer to the world of the undead. Madisen Beaty, Judy Greer and Liv Tyler round out the cast. Produced by Smith and Alex Orlovsky, Hunter Gray, Jacob Jaffke and Omri Bezalel, Jamie Marks Is Dead is Smith’s second Sundance selection (following his 2006 short film "Bugcrush," which received the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking).
Chatting with Smith, he stated of his attraction to the source material, and his approach in translating it into a screenplay and film: “As a reader, I first fell in love with the characters Barzak had created, so I wanted to make sure that Adam and Jamie and Gracie all stayed true to what he’d written. I also felt like the world he’d written was such a distinct character; the abandoned buildings and the sense that the place was dying. So that was important to keep as well.”
“Beyond that,” Smith continued, “it was trial and error, really. I started out with quite a bit more of the book in the script, but gradually peeled things away until the story became totally focused on this triangle between Jamie and Adam and Gracie. In draft after draft, and then cut after cut, I found that only the scenes and characters that moved the story forward got to stay.”
Smith’s background lies in fashion and celebrity photography, which can be seen regularly in Elle, Allure, and GQ. “As a photographer I make images pretty much all day, every day. I spend my life creating frames and then collaborating with a team on exactly how to cull them. With this film, one of the things I was so struck by when I read the novel was how clearly I could see the story as I read it that first time. I need to be surrounded by images while I’m writing, so I took a lot of pictures as I was working, of landscapes and abandoned places, but also of teenage boys, trying to figure out exactly what ‘my’ Jamie Marks would look like. All of these pictures went into what became a huge reference file that I could share with my director of photography (Darren Lew), production designer (Amy Williams) and makeup designer (Mike Potter).”
Distribution news to come shortly, and for more on Jamie Marks Is Dead, visit the official website at www.jamiemarksisdead.net