X – an LGBT indie Hitchcockian mix of melodrama, thriller and camp
Cinedigm has announced the North American release of X from filmmaker Scott J. Ramsey, a Hitchcockian mix of melodrama, thriller and camp where the head of a mysterious foundation finds out that some secrets never stay buried.
After its World Premiere at the Starburst International Film Festival in Manchester, UK, the sexy thriller was screened at over a dozen festivals around the world. During its extensive film festival run, X took home Best Overall Film at the 2019 Indie Gathering in Cleveland, Ohio.
Armed only with masquerade masks and invitations, guests arrive at a seaside estate for a charity ball hosted by a mysterious foundation. With identities hidden from their fellow party goers, they partake in the sinfully seductive surroundings with their charming host Christian (Hope Raymond), known as X. The monthly masked debauchery is all fun and games until the arrival of an unexpected guest from Christian’s past, who threatens to bring to light her darkest secret. And when a voyeuristic video reveals a violent crime, Christian must decide if the truth is worth exposing the world she has created.
“We want to invite you to put on your best mask, and enter into our lush, dark world,” said Ramsey. “At the intersection of erotic thriller and queer camp, this is a story about the destructive power of shame. Our goal is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
Shot entirely on location in Northern California, the film was produced by The Foundation, an independent production company founded by Ramsey, producer Hannah Katherine Jost and producer Kevin De Nicolo. The film is Ramsey’s directorial debut, co-written by Ramsey and Jost.
Not satisfied with simply making their feature film directorial debut, the team at The Foundation pushed the bounds of storytelling even further to expand their premiere project. “Our goal became to create an immersive experience through multi-media storytelling in three different mediums: the film, the album, and the music videos”, shares Ramsey.
The film will be released alongside At the Devil’s Ball, an 11 track “electro-cabaret” album featuring music from the movie by goth pop duo The Major Arcana, available to stream and download on music platforms everywhere on February 16. Spotify Album Pre-Save Link Here.
ON THE FILM
The letter ‘X’ immediately evokes the forbidden or the taboo. It’s the missing value of an equation. It’s a Christogram – a shortening of Christ. It’s a symbol of anonymity. In our film, it’s all of these things – but most of all, it’s our main character Christian’s blood red kiss, with which she seals the invitations to her debaucherous monthly masked balls.
At a masquerade, when you wear a mask, your anonymity means you are free from assumptions and judgement – you get to choose how you’re seen. In our film X, we want to invite the audience to put on their best mask and enter into our secret world –to make them question their views on sex and gender. We want you to see the humanity of a character who sees herself as a monster.
Initially, when I brought the story idea to my writing partner, Hannah, she had the idea that we could tell this story as a Shakespearean tragedy. We loved the idea of telling a Hitchcockian story about a voyeur, but subverting it to a queer woman’s gaze instead of a straight male gaze. We wrote our film to be an intersection of erotic thriller and queer camp, with characters who themselves are really just kids creating a golden Gatsby façade that we soon realize is a house of cards. In designing the film’s look, we meticulously created every detail of this world ourselves – it’s lush and rich, but with a raw, DIY quality.
The great irony of our story is that the main character, Christian, has created this world for her guests where no fantasy is too obscene, while secretly her sexual shame causes her desires to manifest themselves in predatory fashion. X is less about what’s going on at these parties and more about what’s going on in ringleader Christian’s mind. Her struggle with intimacy has made her lonely. This was the genesis of the story for me. Making this project allowed me to realize what I hungered for: a community. I’ve always been an outcast, so I’ve felt a need to carve out a community for myself where I can live my art – very much like Christian.
This movie and this album took five years of blood, sweat, and rose petals. We encountered countless challenges along the way, including three years of post-production during which we had to re-record almost all of the dialogue due to the constant roar of the waves crashing on the Big Sur coast and the muffling effects of masks, and built the film’s soundscape from scratch.
But I love the flaws of the movie as much as I love the rest. I see so much of myself and each member of our team in every frame of the film. One of the themes of our story is the idea that our flaws do not kill us, for they are beautifully human, and they allow us to grow and change. Rather it is the shame about our flaws and the resulting deceit that will ultimately destroy us and that which matters most: our relationships with the people willing to look past our flaws and love us anyway.
X is just the beginning of a trajectory in which I hope to create films and music in the spirit of creating story-worlds that are limitless across media.
ON THE ALBUM AND VIDEOS
I’ve written and sang songs since I was a kid. When we started working on the music for this project, I pitched to my producing and creative partner, Kevin De Nicolo, this idea that X could be a transmedia story, with the music existing on its own – not just in service of the film. Kevin has a wealth of musical knowledge and when we started working with Lien Do on the music for this project, the musical floodgates opened for me, and helped clarify my prime creative objective to build story-worlds that span across media, informing each other and working alongside each other. I don’t see myself as just a filmmaker or just a musician, but as a vessel for stories that can take infinite shape. Our goal became to create an immersive experience through multi-media storytelling in three different mediums: the film, the album, and the music videos. X became a transmedia story that birthed not only the film but our music act, The Major Arcana. We’ve created an entire album of music for the film, along with standalone music videos – short films in their own right, surreal fever dreams that remix themes and symbols from the film.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.