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Manteca filmmaker rolling out skater gang film

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Manteca filmmaker rolling out skater gang film

Manteca filmmaker Jon Walkup – now a student at Columbia College Hollywood – is gearing up to film a movie about roller-skating gangs in the San Fernando Valley. He and writing partner Kenneth Beck...

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED August 10, 2013 2:35 a.m.

Jon Walkup’s parents were out of town. He had the entire house to himself.

And you better believe that he called up all of his friends and told them to come over.

Instead of the stereotypical house party, Walkup offered popcorn and a screening Nicolas Winding Refn’s stylized “Drive” – the hyper-violent crime drama that made Ryan Gosling look like a much darker Steve McQueen.

It’s just what you do when you’re a film buff. It’s what you find a movie that you find so cinematically stimulating that you want to share it with the world.

The script that Walkup just finished polishing with writing partner and roommate Kenneth Beckerdite isn’t exactly a Refn-esqe undertaking. It’s about gangs in the San Fernando Valley that get around roller skates – the old-school roller skates – and sling everything from guns to drugs.

But when he ran into the Danish director at a meet-and-greet in Los Angeles and asked him about his pending project, the Yoda-like response that he got gave him all the motivation that he needed to push him to complete it.

“He said the script was like a baby – you can show how to walk and you can tell it how to walk but in the end it has to stand up on its own two feet, fall, and get back up,” he said. “It was such a surreal thing to hear from him. He was the last person that we expected to run into in the parking lot – he talked in a documentary about how each time he prepares to make a movie he gets a blessing.

“I told him when we got up to him in line after the fact, that this was the blessing we needed, and he offered us good luck.”

Walkup and Beckerdite are now able to pursue the world of “Roller King” – named after the Modesto-based roller rink that they remember from their youth – after securing the funding allotment of $2,000 they sought on independent crowdfunding site Indiegogo.

For the low, low price of only $2,000 people will now be able to watch the Fangs do battle with Satan’s Bunnies.

“It’s a chance to create a universe that we both find funny but everybody takes so serious – it’s crazy because everybody is on roller skates,” Walkup said. “Originally even the cops were on roller skates. There’s a level of humor in it, but it’s a dark humor and that’s something that’s somewhat new for us.”

For the last year, the tandem has been living in Los Angeles – sharing a bedroom – and learning the ins-and-outs of the screenwriting world at Columbia College Hollywood. The short films that they used to make in-and-around Manteca helped set them up for the big time world tinseltown.

Well, sort of. They’re using this new project as a launch pad not only for bigger and better things, but as an opportunity to learn exactly what it takes to make a film in the film capital of the world. Permits. Craft Services. A legitimate crew. They’re planning on having everything, and doing it on a shoestring budget that they believe will be more than enough to allow them to produce something they can be proud of.

The process this time out, however, will be somewhat different.

In the three months that Walkup was writing the script, Beckerdite – who also composes electronic music as Tesla Effect – was working on his newest album.

While the movie wasn’t specifically to coincide with the songs, Walkup said that it was very much written with the music as an influence. Tracks from the album will be used to score the short film, which the duo plans on shooting over two days in September and then editing over the next two months before previewing it at a theater near their Tarzana home.

Their work isn’t for everybody. It can be obscene and the themes are at times niche in nature.

But for Walkup and Beckerdite, raising the money is a chance to expand their horizons and expose them to all of the facets of filmmaking – giving them a chance to tackle aspects they haven’t dealt with before.

“My goal is to learn all of the aspects of the industry and this is as hands-on as you can get,” he said. “I think the most important thing you can do is come up with an idea and then hook people with it. And from what I’ve heard, people like the idea.”

To make a donation, visit www.indiegogo.com and search for Roller King. To view Walkup’s previous work go to www.walkupfilms.com.

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