Plan 9 from Syracuse

"Good"

Plan 9 from Syracuse Review


If Hollywood gave out movie deals for "heart," well, Ryan Dacko would be sitting on a 300-picture deal and an army of assistants ready to help him get his movies made.

"Heart" is a word that Dacko uses pretty much consistently throughout his curious egomentary (the legacy of Michael Moore), and it's a word that reflects his severe -- profound, even -- misunderstanding about how Hollywood works. Here's the setup: Dacko is an aspiring filmmaker in Syracuse, New York, and he works nights in order to scrape together money to make movies. Having had moderate festival-level success with a feature film, Dacko then decided the next logical step would be to find a producer to fund a "three-picture deal" based on scripts that he's written. Of course, the number of people handing out three-picture deals to amateur Syracuse filmmakers is just about zero, so Dacko decides to take matters into his own hands. His idea: To run on foot from Syracuse to Los Angeles in order to get the attention of a "mystery producer," who will certainly be so impressed with the feat that he'll agree to take a 30-minute meeting with Dacko to hear his pitch.

Plan 9 from Syracuse is the travelogue of Dacko's cross-country adventure, from picking out running shoes to arriving in Los Angeles well behind schedule. As you'd expect, little goes right on such a run. Weather is horrible, and Dacko has no training for such an experience to begin with. Drivers of Dacko's "support van" flake out -- the first within days of leaving Syracuse -- and Dacko has to pull a wagon part of the way. And of course there are three or four mountain ranges, including the Rockies, that will have to be crossed. The experience looks absolutely horrible and draining, and you can visibly see Dacko's body periodically giving out as he documents all of this on video.

While all the above is probably expected by anyone who's seen an experiential "I challenge myself!" movie like this, what's less obvious turns out to be how little the rest of the world seems to care about Dacko's journey. Aside from some local media types, Dacko doesn't raise much interest in his story, and for the most part it seems like he's running solo on this multi-month trek across America. And does Dacko receive his three-movie deal? I won't spoil the ending, but you probably remain unfamiliar with Dacko's name today, over two years after he made his track.

Watching Plan 9, which mostly combines footage of Dacko running set to an increasingly grating folk-like soundtrack, with shots of him offering commentary about the run and about how cruel the movie business is, one wants to reach into the screen and slap some sense into the man. There's simply nothing about the run that makes any sense at all. With no training, it's foolhardy for Dacko to embark on the trip to begin with and yet, while it's an impressive feat, it's not so extreme as to merit widespread attention (we are informed Dacko became the 201st person to run cross-country at movie's end). At the same time, it's just not a very interesting way to get the attention of someone you want to pay attention to your creativity. Running across America? The first question any producer would likely ask is whether Dacko got the idea from Forrest Gump... and what would that imply for his skills as a writer/director?

And then there's the whole choice of producer -- which it turns out is the aggro Mark Cuban. Cuban doesn't seem receptive to stunts like this to begin with, and sure enough he responds publicly to the run midway through the film, calling it a dumb idea and questioning why Dacko doesn't just email him instead. And as Cuban notes in the epilogue: He lives in Dallas, not Hollywood, so why would Dacko run there?

Dacko has heart to spare, which makes Plan 9 as watchable as it can be. And Dacko's next gambit is obvious -- sell enough copies of Plan 9 from Syracuse in order to fund those movies himself. Clever idea, since it's clear that Hollywood doesn't care much about heart. But what about you?



Facts and Figures

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 27th October 2007

Budget: $20 thousand

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ryan Dacko

Producer: Ryan Dacko

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