You might know director Amir Valinia as one of the top music video directors in Houston, but thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Mayor's Film Task Force you'll get a chance to see his new feature-length alternative reality thriller Flashes on the big screen.
The movie stars Donny Boaz as John Rotit, a man who inexplicably and uncontrollably flashes between three alternative timelines. In one he is a happy, successful business man with a loving, beautiful wife played by Elle LaMont. In another he is Johnny Rotten, a successful rock star adored the world over (With music provided by Hounds of Jezebel). However, in this world he is also a heroin addict and his beloved wife Claire has never met him before.
And the third? In the third he is a devious serial killer with a murderous agenda. Now, the timelines are collapsing and merging to the point where John doesn't know which is the "true" reality anymore and he is pursued by a mysterious and enigmatic Man who begs him to come home.
Valinia was a big fan of shows like Fringe that dealt with alternate realities, and the idea fascinated him. Originally, Flashes was supposed to be just a short, but the grant from the Mayor's office allowed him and his team to branch out the story into a feature-length film. The movie changed much in the transition, part of it because of a personal tragedy for the director.
Just weeks before the movie was scheduled to begin production Valinia's girlfriend of five years, Erika Cardenas, drowned while swimming in a Clear Lake lagoon. An afternoon of fun on a boat, with friends playfully pushing each other into the water turned tragic when Cardenas went under and didn't come back up. Her body would be discovered by divers hours later.
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"It made the story a lot more personal to me," said Valinia, who continued to pursue the production of Flashes after Cardenas' death. "I re-arranged some scenes and saw the story as more of a love story rather than a straight sci-fi alternate universe kind of story. Instead of pushing back production I told everyone we move forward and I dedicated the movie to her."
Houstonians will see many familiar sights on screen as Johnny's journey takes him through stately mansions and the boards of the Continental Club during the journey of his lives. It's a strange new movie made possible by the generosity of our city and one man's determination to immortalize the woman he loved by dedicating his film to her.
Flashes screens today, May 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the AMC 30 at Dunvale, with a roof top after party to follow at Proof. Tickets are available here.