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November 24, 2014

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‘Area 52: The Actual Footage’ to film on location in Las Vegas

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A prop for the film “Area 52: The Actual Footage.”

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Vaults below Area 52.

They said a movie like this could not be made. Not because it exposes a top-secret government cover-up. Not because it shows actual aliens. Not because it might cause a modern-day panic similar to the one Orson Welles created with his 1938 broadcast of “War of the Worlds.”

But because it had no stars.

The script of “Area 52: The Actual Footage” to be filmed here in Las Vegas caused a bit of a sensation when it went around Hollywood. Here was a truly unique take on an alien film — one based on documented reality. The horror was amped up due to the audience’s feeling of being there.

The millions of first-person shooter video game players in the world would love it — it might even make a great game. All the aspects of a blockbuster “underground” film were there. It was expected that the movie would ride a word-of-mouth fan campaign to tremendous success.

But what famous actors would star in it? None, insisted Las Vegas writer/director Rory Johnston. He explained that any recognizable face in the cast would shatter the illusion of reality — the very aspect that made the movie so exciting to everyone.

But without a star attached to the project, how could they possible market it? Rory pointed out a number of successful films without stars, including “Chronicles,” “Cloverfield,” “Open Water,” “Rec” and the “Paranormal Activity” films. Hollywood producers, without exception, all explained that getting financing was based almost exclusively on casting — without a star attached, they could not finance the film.

Rory refused to go that way, knowing his film would lose the effect of reality — which makes it so much scarier. He wanted this to be one of the most frightening films of all time, not just for the onscreen scares — which are heart-slamming-in-the-chest powerful — but for the lingering emotional effect as one wonders: Was that real?

So Rory formed a team of well-respected filmmakers to make the movie himself. He recruited Howard Wexler, a director of photography for more than 125 films; Roy Wooley, a two-time finalist on the Syfy series “Faceoff,” to create the aliens and special effects; Donavan Dear, an Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning sound director; and other top names who believed in the project.

But how to get financing? Rory has turned to the crowd-funding phenomenon Kickstarter. The team is now in a campaign to raise $124,000 to finish the film. They are in the third week of a 30-day fundraiser, and those who contribute win chances to work with the special effects team, roles in the movie or keeping alien props after shooting wraps.

Click here to “join the Resistance!,” as the “Area 52” team says.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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