Originally Published: April 18, 2010 10:43 p.m.
A gripping murder mystery unfolds high in the sky in "Trouble on the Plane," the Prescott Film Festival's screening on Wednesday, April 21, at the Yavapai College Performance Hall.
The film follows the story of a small group of people flying on a private jet in the mid-1960s. At 10,000 feet above ground, the plane becomes a murder scene when one of the four passengers is found dead. Accusations fly as quickly as the jet. Someone on the plane is a murderer. People start to talk. A lot. And, with deadly consequences.
"Trouble on the Plane" is the brainchild of Belgian filmmaker Maxine Brulein, who says "the idea of the film started with three elements that had been playing in my head for a while: a plane, a mysterious flight attendant and a briefcase."
Brulein had "also been playing around with the idea of creating a short film in the style of my favorite director of all time, Sir Alfred Hitchcock."
So, he set about filming and directing just as Hitchcock would, with the same camera angles and movements, same color pallets, the same type of music and the same style of twisted storylines.
Through his director of photography, Brulein found the "main character for the film, the plane itself," he said. That fortuitous discovery came about when, because of the director, he met a woman who ran a flight attendant school.
She owned a private jet that was used in the 1994 James Cameron movie, "True Lies." The plane had had a bad landing and was stripped of its engines, but still made a good training tool and, Brulein said, the owner had decided to rent it out for film and photo shoots. "Trouble on the Plane" was the first in the aircraft's new life as the setting for a film.
Remaining true to Hitchcock's signature modus operandi, Brulein gave each character a name from the famous director's films, combining the first name from one movie with a last name from another: Eve Kaplan ("North by Northwest"), Roger Devlin ("North by Northwest" and "Notorious"), and Bruno Bertrani ("Strangers on a Train" and "To Catch a Thief"), for example.
A friend gave Brulein the basic storyline, and he pumped out his seven-minute mystery on a $600 budget in two days during a California heat wave, he said.
Brulein is now developing "Trouble on a Plane" into a feature film, with shooting scheduled for September.
The Belgian native became fascinated with filmmaking when he saw his first movie, Disney's "Robin Hood," in a theater at the age of 3 "and was hooked for life." His parents watched his growing enchantment with filming and gave him an 8mm camera when he was 12. His mother also helped him discover Hitchcock, a master of mystery who would influence his work forever.
The film festival's showing begins 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $7.50 at the Performance Hall box office.
"MatchMakers," is the evening's feature film and will offer the audience a "lighthearted and fascinating look at matchmaking and the pursuit of love."
Matchmakers have existed since the dawn of man, and the film explores matchmaking's social history, which has evolved into big business today. The film features the story of Scott Rose, a comedian and computer geek, a Russian bride agency, an arranged marriage in India and "truly horrible pick-up line."
At the same time, the film explores the matchmaking industry and includes interviews with notable sociologists, authors and other experts who shed light on this cultural phenomenon.