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A Murderous Game Show Channels the Neon 80s [Premiere]

Filmmaker Saman Kesh's new film mixes the apocalyptic free-for-all vibes of 'Battle Royale' with a healthy dose of 'The Warriors' and 'Miami Connection.'

Beckett Mufson

Beckett Mufson

Images courtesy the artist

Drugs, money, and hookers kick off filmmaker Saman Kesh's new short—a strong start, which quickly becomes a delightfully pulpy bloodfest. HIT TV evokes the nostalgia of 80's cinema: neon lights, old TVs, and a masked psychopath on a murderous rampage. The story follows contestants of a dystopian game show also called "HIT TV." It's instigated by a disembodied mouth with a molasses-sweet cadence broadcasting through a pirated TV signal to offer "points" to players who kill her targets, á la the omniscient radio DJ and her lackeys in 1979's The Warriors.

HIT TV is simultaneously a story of hero trying to save damsel at all costs, a contestant trying to win game show, and everyone trying not to die. With a heaping helping of action alternating between brutal 80's horror and exhilarating 80's action, HIT TV is a pure example of stylistic indulgence. The succulent sunsets, blistering neon lights, and absurdist dystopian narrative, will take you right back to 1986.

The graphics, both for the short film and the fictional murdergame within, were designed by Territory Digital. In the past, we've covered their VFX work on titles like Guardians of the Galaxy, Ex Machina, and Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron. Appropriately, they don't hold back with HIT TV. "I was immediately super into the project," says lead designer Ryan Rafferty Phelan. He describes the visual inspiration document as, "a whole bunch of wonderful ‘hyper 80s’ references touching on everything from look and style of the film, to music and graphical influence."

Phelan studied everything from, "type and logo design to glitch art, fashion, sexy photography, film posters and wacky 80s artwork," to get the right look and feel, and incorporated, "overt 80s type and animation effects to accent the key moments of the show, such as the announcements of new ‘contestants’ and bonus rounds." To truly capture the texture of the 80s, "The show was rendered out and played back on set through a genuine 80s television set in order to capture that authentic quality." He also listened to a custom 80's playlist throughout production to completely immerse himself in the culture.

Kesh is known not only for his love of the 80s, but also making bomb music videos and turning his Vimeo Staffpicked shorts turned into studio-funded features. One short called CONTROLLER is currently being adapted for Fox, and he's also heading up a remake of the 1997 sci-fi thriller CUBE for Lionsgate. But HIT TV will be a little bit different: "The short is actually going to be a film at first to setup the universe," Kesh tells us. He's also planning to shop HIT TV as a feature film slated for 2017, but that's just the beginning. "It will branch off into a tv show that focuses more on other characters instead of our hero," says the writer/director. In effect, he wants to turn this 12-minute short into an empire.

Today, we premiere HIT TV on The Creators Project. Check out the first installment, below.

Beckett Mufson (beckett.mufson@vice.com, beckett@thecreatorsproject.com)

See more of Saman Kesh's films on his website. Check out Territory Digital's work here.

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