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At long last Eyeborgs: Locally produced sci-fi thriller makes its DVD and Blu-ray debut July 6

by Mark Burger

Eyeborgs, the independent sciencefiction thriller filmed in Winston-Salem the summer of 2007 (and the subject of a YES! Weekly cover story), is soon to be unleashed on the marketplace. Image Entertainment will release the film on DVD ($27.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail) on July 6, thereby adding a little extra firepower to the Fourth of July holiday.

The maiden feature of Crimson Wolf Productions, based in Lewisville, Eyeborgs is set in the near future, following another terrorist attack on American soil. Adrian Paul stars as a Department of Homeland Security agent who slowly (but surely) becomes convinced that the nation’s system of robotic surveillance technology — which he himself supported and contributed to — has somehow gone wrong, gone bad, gone murderous… and worse.

Laced with political paranoia and loaded with CGI effects, the R-rated film was filmed entirely in Winston-Salem and also stars Luke Eberl, Megan Blake, Juan-Carlos Guzman, Dale Girard, cult icon Danny Trejo and, as Paul’s DHS partner, another of the film’s producers, John S. Rushton.

“We’re thrilled to death it’s finally coming out,” said Richard Clabaugh, the film’s director, producer and co-writer (and essentially the brains behind the project‘s inception). “We worked hard to make a very good film and I hope audiences appreciate that.”

The film took more time to finish than was originally anticipated, due to the extensive visual effects it required. Nevertheless, Clabaugh said he’s “extremely, unequivocally, absolutely” pleased with the CGI work in Eyeborgs. “It’s so much better than we’d hoped for.”

A life-long fantasy and science-fiction fan, Clabaugh served as cinematographer on a number of genre films (including The Prophecy, Phantoms and two installments of the original Children of the Corn franchise) before coming to Winston-Salem in 1999 teach cinematography at the UNC School of the Arts’ School of Filmmaking, a position he held until 2007.

Eyeborgs is Clabaugh’s third film as a director, following Python (2000), a giant-snake opus (and cable-TV perennial) that he directed shortly before relocating to Winston-Salem to teach, and Little Chicago (2005), a littleseen melodrama filmed in Winston-Salem and Gastonia, with a number of School of Filmmaking students manning the crew.

Although Clabaugh likes to joke that he fears his tombstone will read “Here lies the man who directed Python,” Eyeborgs is truly the film nearest his heart, a project he conceived and managed to bring to the screen — with the help of investors, School of Filmmaking students and faculty, family members and friends (all of whom he repeatedly cites). Love it or hate it, it’s his movie.

“I’m really very pleased with it,” Clabaugh said. “This is the film I wanted to make… [and] I consider myself very fortunate to have been given the opportunity.”

It was always the intent to utilize the extensive filmmaking talent in the region to make Eyeborgs, and with few exceptions the majority of cast and crew are based here.

“So often we’d see people we wanted to work with go off to LA or New York because that’s where the work was, and that was maddening,” said Rushton. Crimson Wolf, he noted, is an attempt to maintain a talent pool in the region, to keep them here and keep them working on future projects.

Image Entertainment has an option to do an Eyeborgs sequel or a series (“We’ve got ideas — believe me, we do,” Clabaugh said with a smile), and the film will very likely make its broadcast premiere via the SyFy Channel, although probably not until after the New Year.

The DVD and Blu-ray also include behindthe-scenes footage, interviews with cast and crew, deleted scenes and the film’s trailer.

News of Eyeborgs’ impending release was a shot in the arm for those who had followed the project’s progress over the last few years.

“I love it!” said Rebecca Clark of the Piedmont Triad Film Commission. “I’m a big fan of Crimson Wolf Productions because they have a real commitment to making quality films in the Piedmont Triad.”

The film was screened at the 2009 RiverRun International Film Festival as a work-in-progress, and has been seen at film festivals here and abroad, winning an award for Best Visual

Effects at the Action on Film International Film Festival in Pasadena, Calif. last year.

The filmmakers attempted to secure domestic theatrical distribution, but at a time when the major studios are spending more money (often over $100 million per film) on fewer projects, the home-video market has very much become the purview of independent film.

“I’m really pleased with the film,” echoed Richard’s wife, Fran Clabaugh, who edited the film and co-wrote the screenplay. “It’s played well wherever it’s been screened… and people seem to be excited by it.”

For example, Dale Pollock, the former dean of the School of Filmmaking at the UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem and currently a faculty member. In fact, during his tenure as dean, he was the very man who hired Clabaugh as a teacher.

“It’s exciting,” Pollock said. “I’m very proud that the crew has such a strong showing of School of Filmmaking graduates, and I’m so happy for Richard and John because I know they worked very hard on it. So many people have really wanted to see this film.”

During filming, Pollock visited the set and enjoyed catching up with so many of his former students. Seeing so much School of Filmmaking talent involved in the production putting their knowledge to use impressed him. “It’s another success story for the School of the Arts, it really is,” he said.

For more information about Eyeborgs and Crimson Wolf Productions, visit the official website: www.crimsonwolfproductions.com.

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