ROGERS PARK — A film a decade in the making about a backpack traveling the planet recently won the world record for having the most directors — 25 in all — including one Rogers Park filmmaker.
John Versical, one of the directors who helped unseat an artsy French flick featuring a roster of renowned filmmakers for the Guinness World Record title, couldn't be happier.
"Everyone remembers stealing away in a corner of a library, sifting through all those [world] records," Versical said at a coffee shop nearby his Rogers Park condo, speaking about his work on the movie, "The Owner."
The 25 directors, from 13 countries, collaborated via the web to develop a script and eventually weave together 25 different segments of a story about a wandering backpack. The knapsack travels from Detroit to Berlin to Belize and onward on the backs of dozens of characters.
Versical's five-minute segment was mostly filmed in Indiana, and follows one of the movie's characters, known only as "the drifter," from Detroit to New York, where he eventually is murdered and dumped in the East River by a serial killer.
The film premiered worldwide on the fitting date of May 25 last summer, and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray and for download on Jan. 25.
Some of Versical's college friends from Detroit — Marty Shea and Ian Bonner, who started a group of independent filmmakers called CollabFeature — came up with the idea for "The Owner" about ten years ago.
The 34-year-old filmmaker was especially excited about smashing a record once held by big-time directors like Gus Van Sant and the Coen brothers for their work in "Paris, je t'aime," the previous record holder.
Internet speed and digital photography only recently advanced enough to tackle a film of such scale, Versical explained. Still, the film took three years to put together and proved no easy task.
"That's the one thing about having 25 different directors," he said. "You have 25 different styles and stories."
Versical said it took months for Guinness World Records to review a binder full of press materials and testimonials he submitted to prove all 25 directors participated and it truly was a feature film that premiered around the world.
Then, last month, he got the call and email confirming the record.
The movie is CollabFeature's first feature-length film, but there are others in the works — even threatening to upstage "The Owner."
The next CollabFeature film, tentatively called "Train Station," was created by 40 directors and is set to be released late this year.