Life Begins at Rewirement
By Trevin Matcek
Simon Ender struggles with his decision to commit his elderly mother into a revolutionary nursing home alternative that has solved the rapidly growing Senior Citizen overpopulation.
As my parents grow older, I think about what I will do when they can no longer take care of themselves. Put them in a home? Have them live with me? It’s a gray area with no right or wrong that many must deal with at some point in their lives.
I am a huge fan of science fiction and most of my projects fall within the genre. I also come from a middle-class suburban background. It’s what I know. So I’ve found that I gravitate towards “suburban sci-fi” and telling stories as real as possible. How the kid across the street will deal with technology, rather than heroes in a galaxy far, far away. It is this familiar world where I set
Life Begins at Rewirement, on an afternoon that many people from all walks of life, must come to terms with.
Life Begins at Rewirement follows a man named Simon Ender on the day he checks his 100-year-old mother, Jessica, in to a memory care facility. The strained relationship of mother and son is put to the test as Jessica transitions from her aging body and declining mental state, to a data bank with infinite access to all of her memories. Simon comes face-to-face with feelings of guilt, insecurity and ultimately love, as he decides on his mother’s welfare and what is best for her.
One of the core concepts of Life Begins at Rewirement is the singularity principle – the idea that soon, computers will reach a computational speed equal to, or greater, than the human brain. When that time comes, man will integrate with machine and evolve. When most people think of this concept, films like Terminator or The Matrix come to mind. It’s a cold, dystopian future where machines rule and humanity has been pushed to the margins. Injecting humor into this story was very important to me. It makes these big concepts easier to swallow and infuses the drama with an unexpected authenticity. What the singularity principle can teach us is that the union of man and machine will be a natural, logical transition. In fact, it’s been happening for a while already – look at human enhancement via glasses, braces, pacemakers, cochlear implants, etc.
I intended for Life Begins at Rewirement to show the intersection of man and machine in a positive light – to create a dialogue with a mainstream audience who would normally view this negatively. It’s a notion that can be divisive, but is also fuel for discussion about who we are and what lies ahead for humanity. It’s through this small story set in the suburbs of a son trying to sustain his mother’s life, that I hope to examine if technology can bring us closer to ourselves, to others, and to the machines all around us.
—Trevin Matcek, Writer/Director
As a filmmaker, the FUTURESTATES series is what I dream of. It gives me the opportunity to create a world, present three-dimensional characters and the chance to bring up topics that will stay with audiences. It’s also very demanding, a challenge I welcomed and felt extremely comfortable with since much of my work has touched on similar themes.
For Life Begins at Rewirement I brought on some trusted crew from my last short filmYou, Me, and We. Azalea Lee returned as costume designer, Jennifer Westin and An Tran as producers, Keith Ruggiero was sound designer and composer. These trusted colleagues were joined by new collaborators who each brought a fresh energy into helping shape this world. Our production designer Sonja Kroop had the task of building a large set and giving a retro-futurist bent on a very limited budget. Director of Photography Jaron Presant had to convey these epic concepts along with extremely intimate scenes through lighting and camera. Casting Director Nicole Arbusto believed the script provided intriguing roles that talented actors would be drawn to.
Finding the right actor for Simon proved challenging. He needed to have swagger and a sense of bravado, but also the emotional depth as his confidence wears thin. We looked at a lot of actors and Nicole introduced us to Barry Del Sherman, an extremely gifted actor who had never played a role quite like Simon.
For the role of Jessica, we needed to find an older actress who could express the complex emotions of a wheelchair-bound 100-year-old woman descending into dementia. She also needed to do so without saying a word. Nicole pointed us to Jill André, an amazing actress who has performed in films, TV, and theater. Jill found a way to communicate Jessica’s attitude and underlying sadness in the most subtle, yet effective ways.
For the role of the Gateway salesman, Dave (Gruber) Allen was the very first person we cast. I’ve known Gruber and I wrote this character with him in mind. Though it’s a serious scene, I wanted someone inherently funny to bring levity to the conversation. Gruber is also able to make anyone feel at ease instantly. I knew he would be able to handle this tough situation with grace and dignity.
Life Begins at Rewirement brought a lot of passion out of people. Not only were the crew engaged, but it was amazing to see how this story resonated with so many people and the support that we received because of it. To many this was not just another job or vendor contract. From our hard-working interns to me as director, this energy was tangible. It fueled the actors, and brought us luck. For a small project like this which aimed very high, I’m proud of what we were able to do and could not have done it without the dedicated crew, talent, sponsors, collaborators and ITVS.
—Trevin Matcek, Writer/Director
Born in a small Texas town, Trevin Matcek is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s production program. His first 35mm short Sylvia played over a dozen festivals and aired on Showtime. His video “The District Sleeps Tonight” for The Postal Service, was Fuse TV’s #3 Video of the Year. Matcek has collaborated in visual effects for films including The Avengers, Battleship, and Total Recall. His feature script Things We’ve Made was selected by IFP as an Emerging Narrative Finalist. He went to Film Independent’s Directors and Screenwriters Labs with Things We’ve Made and directed the short You, Me & We.
An Tran is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and a Film Independent Project: Involve Fellow in writing and directing. She has produced music videos for the Dublab Collective, Spoon, Clearlake, The Postal Service, and The Exceptor. Her production credits include You, Me and We; Sylvia; Sundance Shuffle; and Mad Girl’s Love Song. As a journalist, Tran’s articles and interviews have appeared in American Cinematographer, Filmmaker, Exposure, In Camera, Videography, and the Los Angeles Times.
Jennifer Westin has produced the independent feature The Lake Effect, and the short films The Dawn Chorus and Twenty Dollar Drinks. She served as the line producer on independent features Ten Stories Tall and Dear Lemon Lima, and as an associate producer on Indelible. Westin founded her own production company, Covert Productions, and has participated in the Film Independent Producers Lab and the Berlinale Talent Project Market. She has an MFA in film producing from Columbia University.
Barry Del Sherman – Simon Ender
Barry Del Sherman has worked for directors Paul Thomas Anderson, Sam Raimi, Sam Mendes, Matthew Modine, Christopher Guest, Roland Emmerich, Clive Barker, and Ben Stiller. He slogged through the oil in There Will Be Blood as H.B. Ailman and played Kevin Spacey’s boss in American Beauty. His television work includes multiple appearances in the Law and Order franchise and roles in The Guardian, The Naked Truth and 10-8: Officers on Duty. His character in Mystery of Attraction at Tribeca Playhouse helped garner an Obie Award.
Jill André – Jessica Ender
Jill André’s acting career has spanned decades. She has worked in many genres with acclaimed directors like Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), Rob Reiner (Ghosts of the Mississippi), Michael Polish (Twin Falls Idaho), Albert Brooks (Lost in America), Roger Spottiswoode (And The Band Played On), and Floria Sigismondi (Runaways). She has performed on Broadway in Children of a Lesser God, The Trip Back Down, The Great White Hope, An Evening with Richard Nixon, and Sunrise at Campobello. Her television credits include Grounded for Life, NYPD Blue, The Practice, Cagney & Lacey, Picket Fences, Moonlighting, Hill Street Blues, and St. Elsewhere.
Dave (Gruber) Allen – Sales Associate
Dave (Gruber) Allen was recently featured in Bad Teacher and has appeared in many TV shows including Party Down, Gilmore Girls, Frasier, and King of the Hill. His roles include guidance counselor Jeff Rosso on Freaks and Geeks as well as Mr. Kwest onNed’s Declassified School Survival Guide. Allen also starred in The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show and is a member of the comedy group Two Headed Dog. He performs with the creator and original cast from Mystery Science Theater 3000 in Cinematic Titanic: Live!
Toks Olagundoye – Nurse
Toks Olagundoye is a native of Lagos, Nigeria and holds a BFA in theatre from Smith College. She recently guest-starred on NCIS and Prime Suspect. In addition to regional theater and off-Broadway roles, her film credits include Brown Sugar and The Salon, along with additional television roles in CSI:NY, Switched At Birth, Law & Order, and Ugly Betty.