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Dennis Perkins

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives on the West End with his lovely wife Emily, where they watch all the movies ever made. When not digging up stories about the Maine film scene, he can be found writing for the AV Club and elsewhere. The rest of the time, he's worrying about the Red Sox.

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Posted: January 27, 2017

The Maine filmmaker behind ‘The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes’ talks about turning the movie into a web series

Written by: Dennis Perkins

 

Nancy Andrews on the set of "The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes." Photos courtesy of Nancy Andrews

Nancy Andrews on the set of “The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes.”
Photos courtesy of Nancy Andrews

“I didn’t want this material to just fade away, like the Wild West or something.”

That’s Nancy Andrews: College of the Atlantic faculty member, acclaimed filmmaker and artist and director of the Maine-made sci-fi film and webseries “The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes.”

Starring experienced Hollywood actress Michole Briana White (“25th Hour,” Ava DuVernay’s “I Will Follow”), this 2015 film follows White’s Dr. Sheri Myes as she attempts to expand her perceptions by pushing the boundaries of science in the way of all good movie mad scientists.

Incorporating animation, live-action, comedy, drama and even a few musical numbers, the film is a thought-provoking, visually arresting spectacle, as well as a showcase for the multi-talented White.

After premiering at the prestigious International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2015 and playing at other festivals around the world, Andrews has re-edited the Mount Desert Island-filmed feature into an eight-episode web series that you can watch for free at thestrangeeyesofdrmyes.com.

Watch the trailer

I spoke to Andrews about her movie, her star and why retooling her film for the web was the perfect fit.

A lot of science fiction deals with scientists who “go where humanity is not supposed to.” What’s so appealing about that concept?

The theme of a scientist who goes too far and is so impassioned with their work that they don’t see the whole picture — there’s a parallel with me, the way artists tend to be driven by an obsessive quality, seeking something you feel is very valuable and many don’t really in the same way. The project I did before this (the 2009 short “On a Phantom Limb”) dealt with the idea of a related trope of re-animation, “Frankenstein.” It’s all about the idea that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The human race often engages in these kinds of tech fixes, but doesn’t have the ability to predict the outcome.

Michole Briana White is so great in the film, doing everything from physical comedy to heavy drama, even singing. How did you get such a versatile and respected Hollywood actress to come to Maine to do the film?

She’s such an incredible talent, such a true actor. Michole’s just got the spirit and the chops — and she’s just a wonderful person on top of that. She’s quite accomplished but, that said, this was the first movie where she was the center of the film. Even though I don’t have a track record in Hollywood, her manager recognized I have street cred (laughing). He gave it to her and she really wanted to do it. It gave her a chance to show so much of what she could do. (Dr. Sheri Myes) is such a juicy character, and Michole was such a great sport about it because we’d never met until the first day on set. But now we’re working on future episodes and have developed a wonderful relationship.

The web series indicates there’s more to come, so that’s great to hear. What made you think that turning your feature into an online series was the way to go?

We got into Rotterdam, and you can’t do better than that. We were thrilled. But in terms of the landscape for films that are unusual and don’t have megastars is sort of weak. So, with the web series, we added material, we took out some things, we really tried to edit to that format. And online is a new opportunity for filmmakers to build an audience. We were inspired by people like Issa Rae (HBO’s “Insecure”), who made creative material on the web and developed a strong following and viewership. Our fantasy is to move from the web, like she did, to something like Netflix, Amazon or HBO with a lot more support, where they help you produce the work you want to do.

For more information on Nancy Andrews’ work and to watch “The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes,” visit the series’ website, thestrangeeyesofdrmyes.com.


COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS

PORTLAND PUBLIC LIBRARY
Thursday: “Southside With You.” Part love story, part recent history, part autobiography, this film follows the momentous first date between a young Barack Obama and his future wife, Michelle, as they talk about activism, racism and romance. Free as part of the library’s Black History Film Series.

SPACE GALLERY
Monday, Feb. 6: “The Handmaiden.” This stunning new film from director Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy”) about a wealthy young Japanese lady and her plotting Korean housemaid got passed over for an Oscar nomination this week. But SPACE makes sure this sumptuous erotic drama doesn’t pass by Portland.

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