One of the things I enjoy most about independent films is the fact that everyone from cast to crew really puts their heart and soul into their performances. These productions don’t have the luxury of a big budget studio behind them, so everyone takes it upon themselves to personally deliver the best film experience possible. It’s that passion for story telling that translates well across the screen to the viewer, and such is the case with Dragon Day.
Dragon Day is writer/director Jeffrey Travis’ first feature-length film and tells the story of Duke Evans (Ethan Flower); a former NSA engineer who must fight to save his wife and daughter from despair following a deadly Chinese cyber attack on the United States. One that renders all “Made in China” computer chips useless.
Stories about end of days and world shattering scenarios aren’t at all that far-fetched, and Flower’s performance in Dragon Day not only keeps you on the edge of your seat, but also makes you believe in the impossible. In a world where we mindlessly go about our daily lives believing everything is copacetic, it’s nice to be reminded (thankfully, from a fictional standpoint) that we’re all still vulnerable.
Dragon Day stars Ethan Flower, Osa Wallander, Jenn Gotzon, Eloy Méndez and Hope Laubach. I spoke with Flower about Dragon Day, conspiracy theories and what’s next for the rising actor.
What was it about the script that attracted you to this role?
I was fascinated with the storyline and the idea of a man trying to save his family from a cyber attack after social collapse. I’m also a bit of a conspiracy theorist and for years have been well aware (even before it came out in the news) that the NSA had the power to track and listen in on everything we say or access the recordings if they want to.
With all of the debt crisis negotiations going on and talk of a government shutdown in Congress, a story about China launching a cyber attack to take back America because we owe them money is not at all that unrealistic. Everything we do every day is connected to the internet: financially, electronically, even our water works. If we could do it to them via Stuxnet, they certainly could do it to us.
A lot of people might say, “Oh, that can’t be possible,” but EMP (electro-magnetic pulses) can be sent through cell towers as “still pulses” and can essentially kill anything electronic. When an EMP gets sent, everything gets shut down. So it’s not like they need to have a secret code inside of every single chip. They just have to get it into enough chips to send the kill posts to the cell towers. That’s the program my character writes at the NSA before he gets fired.
Tell me a little more about your character, Duke Evans.
Duke is an ex-NSA contractor who has written a program that gets taken from him. He’s the ultimate hero who has faults and makes some bad decisions, but ultimately is only trying to save his family from this disaster. One of the things I loved about my character was that in the beginning he says that he doesn’t believe in using a weapon to safeguard his family, but through the course of the film is confronted with a life or death situation and decides to get the gun. He quickly changes into a man willing to do anything he can to save those he loves.
What was the filming process like?
It was intense. We filmed most of it in a great town called Wrightwood, California and everyone there was amazing. Jen Gotzon (Rachel) is the consummate professional. She’s a very dedicated actress. Osa Wallander (Leslie) was phenomenal and it was an honor for me to work across from her and build a chemistry of a family who’s having problems. Eloy Méndez (Alonso) was also great. He’s an interesting actor who adds a strong, simple quality to his work. You just can’t take your eyes off of him. I also loved working with my “daughter,” Hope Laubach (Emma). She’s a new actress but some of the scenes where we had to show a lot of emotion were very touching.
Tell me a little about your next project, Spoils of Babylon.
That was another amazing experience. It’s a television mini-series for IFC. I play a British civilian who sort-of rewrites history with Tobey Maguire. The scene I did was unlike anything I’ve done before and I’m very excited about it.
What did you enjoy most about your Dragon Day experience?
Dealing with people who truly love what they’re doing. You could see it in every meeting you took and could feel it in the writing. The story itself is so interesting and one that hasn’t really been told before. I think when you’re dealing with people who are so passionate about a project, it makes it very easy to dive in and give it your all.
Dragon Day will screen as part of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and be released in select cities on November 1. The film will also be available for download and Video On Demand.