Independent movie My Suicide is unlike anything you have ever seen. Ostensibly the story of a 17-year-old boy who announces he will commit suicide on camera for his school project, the story is told from the point of view of the boy (newcomer Gabriel Sunday) as a visual stream of consciousness - blending animation, archive footage, YouTube clips, doodles and other effects that will leave older viewers dizzy from the visual overload.
But the film is not targeted at grown-ups. 'It's one of the most (visually) manipulated movies of all time,' says executive producer Julia Pistor, the former executive vice-president of Nickelodeon Movies who is now an independent producer with a deal at MTV.
'Kids don't blink when they see the frenetic visuals because they've been raised on that. A lot of adults don't really get it.'
Director David Lee Miller conceived the storyline with his film-maker teenage son Jordan Miller after Jordan had worked on a public service announcement about teen suicide.
The two determined to create a film which addressed the taboo subject while speaking in a voice which reflected the angst of today's youth. Veteran writer Eric J Adams came in and worked on the screenplay with Miller Sr. The film was privately financed and Miller enlisted some famous actors to back up Sunday, namely David Carradine, Mariel Hemingway, Nora Dunn, Harry Shearer and Joe Mantegna.
'The story had to have a tight three-act structure which is why we brought in Eric Adams,' says Miller Sr, 'but Jordan cut the film with Gabriel Sunday. These kids have grown up with the language of film on their desktop.
They play Final Cut Pro instead of video games. So we let the kids go free in the editing room to employ the language of the new technologies.'
If the resulting smorgasbord is aimed at kids, it is a dead cert for prohibitive adult ratings due to its profane language, sexual imagery and drug use. That's why the producers are working to get the film to its target audience by innovative means.
'It's a raw, authentic R-rated film that every 14-year-old should see,' says Pistor. 'Having worked at MTV, a demographically driven business model, for 15 years, I feel qualified to say we have an archaic ratings system.'
The production team is therefore building up a wealth of existing marketing support before taking it to distributors. 'We haven't gone out to distributors yet for a number of reasons,' she says.
'One is that the movie business is going through a sea change. Second, it's not an easy movie to open, and we have to have added value in place before we go out.'
That included an early 2006 partnership with Interscope Records which put down a large sum to help music supervisor Karyn Rachtman (Pulp Fiction, Boogie Nights) clear the music in the film.
The team is also working to create a viral marketing plan, is creating additional online content and devising a grass-roots social component to the campaign about teen suicide. 'We're not telling distributors how to market their movie,' says Pistor. 'They will appreciate we have built-in partners that will cost them nothing.'