In 2015, Professor David Liban, MFA, made a short film titled Feral. People liked it. Actually, people liked it so much that Liban decided to keep working on it. “Why don’t we make it into a feature, and every year we’ll make a segment of it?” he said. Five years later, his post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama A Feral World is being released by Gravitas Ventures on Sept. 22, 2020.
Inspired by the film Boyhood, which was filmed over multiple years, Liban decided to take a chance by filming every summer for four years. “There was a method to our madness,” he said. “But it was also a necessary thing, because I was funding the film myself,” he added.
The challenge with this multi-year approach, of course, is that your actors and crew could disappear at any moment by committing to other film projects or relocating in between scheduled shoots. Luckily, one of the two main characters was played by an actor very close to Liban. “I didn’t know what was going to happen with the actors; my son was pretty safe, because I know where he lives,” he said.
One of Liban’s sons, Caleb, turned out to have a talent for acting. He plays the role of Sonny, an orphaned boy who meets up with a woman named Emma (played by Danielle Prall). Sonny, Emma, and her dog Lips form a bond, and they travel together in search of Emma’s lost daughter. As time passes in the film, viewers witness the actors getting older, which gives the movie a sense of inescapable realism. This stark chronological realism emphasizes the post-apocalyptic setting of A Feral World.
Liban admits, “I’ve always been a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction … I love the Road Warrior movies, Seed, The Road, Book of Eli, and the Fallout video games.” Given the genre, how could he find the right locations for his film’s netherworld? Liban is protective about some of the film’s exact locations, but he did say he filmed in “a burned-out sugar beet factory, at the Tivoli, and in Bear Creek Lake Park”—all of which are in and around Denver.
The locations worked to Liban’s benefit. “It was easy to work in Denver as opposed to Hollywood or New York,” he said. “People are much more excited to see a film crew; it’s a friendly place to shoot,” he added.
Liban, who is currently chair of the Film & Television Department at the College of Arts & Media (CAM), worked with many CU Denver faculty, students, and alumni (complete list below). “I would not have been able to make the movie if it weren’t for my students,” he said. “They were part of crews working on cameras, lighting, script supervision, sound recording, catering … I learned as much from them as they learned from me.”
This type of collaboration happens frequently in CAM. Recently, professors, alumni, and students have worked together on Rent-A-Pal, Fresh Tracks, Cam, and Liyana. Three of these films, including A Feral World, were released during the pandemic.
Liban wants his film to do well when it’s officially released on Sept. 22—those who don’t want to wait can preorder A Feral World on itunes. More importantly, “I’d like to make sure that people understand it’s a labor of love.” That is especially true, because Liban worked with his son at a pivotal time in his life: Caleb was 11 – 14 years old during filming. “I’m really proud I did this with my son; when he grows up, he can say this is something I did with my dad,” Liban said.
Lynx Cast & Crew
Ayden Adair, Luke Austin, Rachel Barreth, Molly Bocin, Joey Bramer, Miguel Branas, Santiago Charboneau, Phoenix Chu, Sabrina Cranford, Demi DeHerrera, Jacob DelReal, Patrick Ellis, Jenica Felix, Garron Harlemnan, Josh Hill, Ben Hunter, Patrick Jorgensen, Josh Kern, Brad Kleffman, Kelly Kramerik, Makenna Mackey, Colton McKee, Indiana Metza, Kylee Mitchell, Brooke Omerigic, Chris Reese, Ben Roland, Sofia Shappel, Brandon Smith, Todd Smith, Luke Sorge, Kelly Spencer, Shannon Stone, Bonnie Utter, Ashley Vaughn, Geoff Velando, Nigel Wickens, Breanne Wilson, Trevor Wilson, Colton Zeiler, Derek Zen
Leslie Gaston-Bird, Rob King, Timothy McCraken, Jessica McGaugh, Nate Thompson, Allan Trumpler, Craig Volk, Gregory Walker