CHICAGO — In the weeks before Google announced its partnership with Calico, a company that endeavors to extend human life, local filmmaker Tim Maupin had already started online crowdfunding for his indie short film "The Last Generation to Die," set in a future where death has been eradicated.
It was a happy coincidence, Maupin said.
"The Google thing is actually really well timed for us, because that’s a really big deal," said Maupin, 34.
With only a week until his Kickstarter ends, the West Town resident has already raised more than his $9,000 goal and has set a stretch goal, meaning he can afford pricier filming locations, effects and maybe even pay the crew, many of whom agreed to work for free.
In the film, a company called Apeiron Life (cue the Calico parallels) has figured out how to cheat death by stopping the process of aging. A woman who works for Apeiron brings in her father for early trials, but he stops coming, instead electing to die by natural causes.
The short is in its early stages with a nearly finished script and will likely span about 15 minutes, he said. The director's Kickstarter even features a commercial for the fictional business, which he said he plans to include in the film.
Maupin said he became inspired by what he read about the futuristic technology, and he thought it could serve as a back drop for a deeper human story.
To add to the futuristic look of things and add "a nice tie-in" to the plot, Maupin said he plans to use 3D-printed props. But the main focus is on the story, he said.
"Even without the future concept, just the idea of a parent dying… I think that’s something that most people can relate to as they get older," Maupin said.
Working as a cinematographer for the short is New York filmmaker Cody Stokes, who met Maupin at Webster University in St. Louis and is a frequent collaborator.
"What I hope we see is a film that feels cinematic and realistic but with touches of futurism," Stokes said.
Maupin plans to split filming between his hometown of St. Louis and Chicago, where he's called home for about a year. He pictures filming Downtown in Millennium Park and the Magnificent Mile, he said.
Like Google, Maupin discusses the idea of living forever less like science fiction and more like a possible preview of things to come.
"I think Tim and I have very different viewpoints on this thing," Stokes said. "He’s the kind of guy that I think would try to live forever… I think to me, one of the views of life is that it's finite."
Maupin said he thought that disagreement was worth exploring and might spark similar discussion among the film's audience.
"My parents would not want this technology," Maupin said. "I kind of lean toward the idea that if it's available, I’d like to use it."
"If I had the power to save them, but knowing that they probably wouldn't want it, I think that’s a pretty rich conflict, and that translates pretty well to film."