Mark Netter Talks Nightmare Code

Nightmare Code tells of a computer that can affect human behavior. It’s a terrifically inspired film with a clever script by co-scribe and director Mark Netter. We caught up with Mark ahead of the iTunes release this week.

Congratulations on all the press and great feedback this movie is getting. How are most people seeing the film – at festivals?

Right now NIGHTMARE CODE is available on Google Play, on September 29th we will be on iTunes, and we will continue to roll out on digital platforms, and you can pre-order the DVD for November 27th. We’re doing spot influencer screenings in NYC and other cities where I’m able to be there for a Q&A.
We had great festival experiences winning The 2015 Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival in NYC this year and “Best Thriller” at The 14th Annual Shriekfest in LA. So projected, on a big TV screen or with earbuds on a laptop or tablet or smartphone – lots of ways to see it and (recommended) in HD.

When did you know you really had something… that this movie had a good shot of being a success?

When we premiered last October at Shriekfest. The audience went nuts and it validated everything we had been trying to do. The suspense, the shocks, the characters – particularly Brett and Nora played by Andrew J. West (THE WALKING DEAD) and Mei Melançon (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND).
NIGHTMARE CODE doesn’t look exactly like any other movie – we use only surveillance camera, PC cam and eyeglass cam, with about half the movie being four images at once, like a surveillance quad. And the images are not always in sync – as if someone…or something is telling the story. And the audience could not only follow it, they were totally turned on by it.

Is it fair to say it definitely doesn’t fit squarely into either the horror or science-fiction but more a mix of several genres? And was that the intention?

When we wrote the movie we structured it like a horror movie – there’s a creature from the non-living world trying to break into our human world.
But in NIGHTMARE CODE it’s not a ghost, it’s a computer software program, ROPER, that’s analysing the behavior of everyone it’s capturing on video. So it really plays like a psychological sci-fi thriller. And there’s a strong film noir element as well.

How did you pitch the film, initially?

It started as a lunch I had in January 2012 with Craig Allen, our lead Executive Producer. We came up the idea of making a low-budget surveillance footage movie in his offices – videogame developers Spark Unlimited. He said he’d back it and I ran home, contacted M.J. Rotondi and got Craig a script to approve within 4- days of that lunch. And Craig liked the script!

How much of an influence was Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 : A Space Odyssey?

I’m a huge Kubrick and 2001 fan, and I think the scariest twist in that movie is when we get supercomputer HAL’s POV of the astronauts plotting against it. So ROPER is definitely a descendant.
From THE SHINING we got the idea of teaching the audience the geography of the enclosed space where the horror’s coming. We thought of NIGHTMARE CODE as “THE SHINING in a start-up as told by HAL.”

Did you think this is where our future is headed? Is ROPER just around the corner?

The idea of a computer program becoming sentient is not new – it’s called “the singularity” and is predicted to be invented @ 2022. We’re positing that some genius somewhere has already created it.
But the big question we built NIGHTMARE CODE to ask is whether the tools we’ve created to make our lives easier have not only stripped our control, but are they already so powerful they are controlling us?