Hollywood is coming to Manteca.
On Sunday, Sierra High grad and current Los Angeles resident Jon Walkup will be at Rooster Juice to show the first screening of his newest film, Roller King, to a hometown crowd. Walkup co-wrote and co-directed the movie with friend and film partner Kenneth Beckerdite, who scored the movie himself.
It’s the first time that the duo – both of whom are studying screenwriting at Columbia College Hollywood – have tackled an official production. They turned to Internet site Indiegogo to raise more than $2,000 to finance the film. They went with a full-on professional production complete with craft services, makeup and editing.
The result is a unique story about rival gangs – the Fangs and Satan’s Bunnies – in Los Angeles that compete for turf and control of the drug trade. They roll around the LA River basin and the Sepulveda Dam in matching tank tops like the famed packs of the 1970’s film “The Warriors” and create havoc wherever they go.
Walkup is glad to be showing it to friends and family.
“I guess we want to do it because it’s where Ken and I started, and we have a lot of people up there that pledged through the campaign,” Walkup said. “We want them to see the film and a lot of them can’t make it to Los Angeles. We thought we’d bring the film to them. We’re excited – it’s a lot easier to invite people to come when you have a film and it’s not just a script.
“We want people to see it, have a reaction to it, and interpret it however they see it.”
The two met when they were both attending Modesto Junior College. Their shared love for film quickly became a bonding point. They made several short films together – some silly, and some serious. Beckerdite, who performs music under the name “Tesla Effect,” added a different dimension to Walkup’s auteur ways and recorded new music for the film that creates a dynamic effect.
Their creative differences, according to the bio on the Indiegogo fundraising page, is their biggest strength. It gives each of them a sounding board for fresh ideas and unique approaches to their collective love for film, cinema and music.
Roller King, which was named as an homage to the long-gone roller skating rink in Modesto, was inspired at least in part by Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn – the genius behind stylized features like Bronson, Valhalla Rising and Drive.
Both Walkup and Beckerdite ran into Refn in the parking lot after a meet-and-greet in Los Angeles. The director gave him sage-like advice that helped propel the script forward and drive Walkup towards completing his idea.
“He said the script was like a baby – you can show it how to walk and you tell it how to walk but in the end it has to stand up on its own two feet, fall, and get back up,” Walkup 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.”
A 40-second trailer for Roller King is available for viewing at www.walkupfilms.com. The clip can be accessed by clicking on the video tab. The soundtrack for the film, which Beckerdite produced, can be found by searching Facebook for “Roller King” and downloading the .Zip file contained in the link.
The film screening will be held at Rooster Juice, located at 1325 W. Yosemite Ave., on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m. The event is open to the public, and anybody interested is welcome to attend.