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"Heaven Sucks!" premiered at The Wichita Center for the Arts on July 9, 1999, as part of a program of local shorts called "Heaven Sucks! (Plus)". Works by Leif Jonker, Mike Adams, Jamison Rhoads, C. Nicholas Johnson, and Cameron Pierron were also featured in the prgram which pulled in over 200 people in its opening weekend.

"Heaven Sucks!" made its internet premiere at IFILM.com on March 31, 2000.

See the complete cast and crew here.

 

HEAVEN SUCKS!

and so does Jason
by Lonny Quattlebaum (co-writer, co-producer, director of photography, editor)


Online Videos by Veoh.com

I think it was November of 1998 when Jason called me. Not the first time Jason had called me, but this particular call is where this story begins.

It had been about six months since we finished our feature film My Day in the Barrel. I had a pretty good idea what Jason was calling about. To this point Jason had what I considered to be a rather annoying habit of producing a project every six months. An admirable feat, but as a key facilitator to the mid-90’s Jason Bailey production factory, a feat that I found exhausting. Needless to say, I was not keen to jump into another project. But, being the glutton that I am, I decided to meet with Jason to discuss his prospect, or at least meet with him face to face to turn him down.

I got off work at 11:00 PM. Jason had left the Holyoke house when the lease was up, and was now living at his dad’s house for a little while to save money. His room was freezing. They keep the heat set low. I think they wear heavy blankets around the house to keep warm. They call it “thrifty”; I call it “cheap”. Me, shivering in my coat, and Jason sitting on his bed, shrouded in his comforter--we hadn’t gotten into it yet, but I could feel it. Jason was jonesin’, and he needed his next movie-making fix.

He barely had an Idea about what he wanted to do. Usually Jason comes to me with at least the first draft of a script, but not this time.

"I want to do something kind of crazy, with heavy visuals." Jason tells me.

"Got any Ideas?" says me.

"Not really." he says, "I was sort of hoping you could help me come up with something, you know, really showcase your abilities." I guess Jason thought flattery would help. It doesn’t hurt. But shooting and editing is a big enough time commitment, and now he wants to involve me in the development?

"Maybe for a short, I don’t think I’m up for a feature yet." I say.

"Oh yeah, that’s what I was thinking. May be five or ten minutes. Short, and with a lot of impact."

Five or ten minutes, that’s a different story. Five or ten minutes, we could really take our time to do it up right. Five or ten minutes... that could be kind of fun. Jason got me thinking.

We threw ideas back and forth for about an hour, and by the end of the meeting had come with some crazy shit that we were convinced was short film gold. Roughly, it was about a businessman on his lunch hour and a vagrant who took a on some kind of psychedelic, inter-dimensional, drugged out mind trip. There were rainbows and floated disembodied heads and melting skin. It was kind of like Pink Floyd meets Tele-Tubbies meets the Wizard of Oz. The details needed to be worked out but the basic idea was there. IT WAS
BRILLIANT! Until I woke up seven hours later.

"This SUCKS!" I called Jason at work.

We decide to meet back up again in a week. In the meantime, we were to come up with some other ideas, or find a way to make this one work. A week passed, and nothing. Uninspired, I was ready to tell Jason to that I was bowing out of this project.

Then I had had an idea. Initially, it had nothing to do with our previous idea. I was in my car, on my way to work. I think the catchy but slightly irritating “alt-pop” Joan Osborne song "What If God Was One of Us?" was on the radio. Joan’s sugaring-rhetorical question got me thinking.

"Hmm?" me says to me. "What if God WERE one us? Just a slob like some of us?"

An intriguing proposition. What IF? What if God was just a regular guy. Maybe he’s a general contractor, and the earth and the universe were just a job he was hired to do. What if you died and went to heaven, and found out that you were no better off than you were when you were living. Got to get a job, got to pay rent, pay bills, buy groceries, stand in line at the bank.

Wouldn’t that suck?

I like it! The next morning, I still like it. Jason likes it too. We must be on to something. I squeeze the idea into a rough semblance of our original Willie-Wonka skeleton, keeping the bum, the businessman, and the lunch hour. I flesh out the plot points and Jason puts it to paper. By the time the script is finished our five to ten minute short has become a thirty-eight page screenplay. About 28 to 33 pages to long! Screw it, I’m already too invested in this project to pull out now.

And I must say, it’s quite a brilliant premise.