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Kingdom County Productions and Marlboro College will launch production on Friday of "Wetware" the newest feature film production in the Movies from Marlboro (MFM) film intensive program. Shooting will start at 6 a.m. at the Latchis Hotel in Brattleboro. The MFM crew of 26 professionals and 30 students will continue production through Tuesday, May 3 at sites in Brattleboro and Burlington, and Nantucket, Mass.

"We're excited to move into production, after eight weeks of preparations, classes, workshops, visiting artists, casting sessions, location searches, costume and prop acquisitions, and so much more," said "Wetware" director and producer Jay Craven. "Our group is psyched to start the work of breathing life into scenes we've dissected, discussed, debated, and revised—scenes that we've also seen play in a series of ten audition sessions staged in Brattleboro, Burlington, Nantucket, and New York City. We're ready to go."

"Wetware" is based on the novel by award-winning writer and longtime Putney writer Craig Nova. Upon its release in 2002, Washington Post critic Michael Dirda called the Nova novel "A haunting, heart-stoppingly exciting, brilliantly structured novel of suspense, ideas, and subtle characterization."

"Wetware" will be set in a not-too-distant future where there are jobs no one wants and people at the end of their rope who will do anything for a sense of security and well-being. Enter Galapagos Wetware, a cutting edge genetic engineering firm where people down on their luck apply for alterations to help them cope and take on jobs in deep mining, industrial agriculture, high steel, toxic cleanups, and more.


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With business booming, genetic programmer Hal Briggs is charged with developing more sophisticated Galapagos prototypes, Jack and Kay. High-end clients anxiously await these deluxe models, to carry out smart and strategic missions like manned travel to Mars, deep cover espionage, and boots on the ground against climate eruptions and resource wars.

Briggs is sharp but he's impetuous, even delusional – a socially awkward romantic in a transactional world. Indeed, he keeps a modified human clock at home and his genetically altered "message mice" scurry under foot everywhere, hawking items ranging from candy and crackers to Miami vacations. And Briggs is under pressure to complete work on the genetic codes for his high-end prototypes, adding qualities to Jack and, especially, Kay, to whom he develops a dangerous attachment.

Briggs' boss, Leslie Carr, has problems of her own. She navigates a thorny relationship with Wendell Blaine, Galapagos' lead investor and chief prognosticator on all matters financial. But tensions mount when Carr and Blaine tangle over field-tests, deadlines, specs even dinner etiquette.

Then word gets out that Jack and Kay have escaped, before Briggs has completed his work. Where have Jack and Kay gone? What do they know? And will they survive the volatile world of street heavies and low-rent hotels? Briggs scrambles to track his fugitive prototypes and, as he reexamines Jack and Kay's codes, he makes a provocative discovery that will change everything.

""Wetware's" vivid characters are originals," said Craven, "flawed, dimensional, and a little absurd. The film will dig into fertile themes of love, work, and freedom, genetic engineering, social costs of living in a wired age, the power of music, and what it is to be human in trying times. We also promise a few good laughs."

The "Wetware" cast will include a mix of Hollywood and Broadway veterans, emerging talent, and Vermont and New England actors. The professional crew will include Vermont native and Emmy-winning costume designer Sarah Beers, eight Marlboro College alumni, and twelve veterans of previous MFM productions, "Peter and John" and "Northern Borders."

"As with every movie I've made, we'll be raising funds throughout this tightly budgeted non-profit production," said Craven. "And, as they did for both "Northern Borders" and "Peter and John," students have planned and launched a Kickstarter crowd funding campaign (at https://goo.gl/eePWqJ or go to Kickstarter and search for: Wetware). Their goal is to raise a minimum of $48,000 by April 28.

The biennial Movies from Marlboro program was established in 2012 and has produced two films to date: "Northern Borders" (2012) with Academy Award nominees Bruce Dern and Genevieve Bujold and Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick and Tony nominee Jessica Hecht) and "Peter and John" (2104) with Golden Globe winner Jacqueline Bisset, Christian Coulson, Diane Guerrero, Shane Patrick Kearns, and Emmy-winner Gordon Clapp.

"Inspired by pioneering Vermont educator John Dewey's call for intensive learning that enlarges meaning "through shared experience and joint action," our project is unique in the nation," said Craven. "Within the hyper-commercialized media industry, we work to combine transformative experiential learning, community engagement, and our best hope for sustainable place-based independent film production and regional release."

For the "Wetware" film intensive, participating students have come from Wellesley College, University of California at Berkeley, Wesleyan University, Augsburg College, Mount Holyoke, Sarah Lawrence College, University of Maine, Colby Sawyer College, Simmons College, Lyndon State College, Fitchburg State University, and Marlboro College.

Sponsors and donors who, to date, are supporting this unusual film production include India Blake, The Amy E. Tarrant Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, Dealer.com, The John M. Bissell Foundation, Ben and Jerry's, The State of Vermont, The State of Massachusetts, the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, The Vermont Community Foundation, and forty-four individual and small business donors.

Jay Craven may be contacted at jcraven@marlboro.edu.