Jeff Chan’s ‘Code 8’ Has Plenty Excitement On and Off-Screen
We all know what crowdfunding is, right? It’s when a bunch of people raise money for someone’s project. Simple enough. But have you ever seen over 28,000 people raise over $2 million USD for a full-length feature film they’ve only seen ten minutes of? That’s the magic of Code 8. And it’s real.
Director Jeff Chan and co-writer Chris Paré had an idea. And with the help of producers Tommy Dingwall, Robbie Amell, Stephen Amell, Geoff McLean, Art Chong and Billie Aleman, they gave fans a concise ten-minute short film that would give them a taste of that idea. In a world where 4% of the population have superpowers, the other 96% use their power of influence to oppress them. In this world, Robbie Amell plays a young man, Connor, with electrokinetic abilities just struggling to get by and keep his anger toward the corrupt system at bay.
Three years, four million views on YouTube, and over 28,000 backers later, the result is a film that’s about a world with superpowers and so much more. Robbie Amell (The Babysitter, The Flash, True Jackson, VP) gives a shocking—pun intended— performance as Connor that has you feeling everything he is, from the electricity in his veins to the despair in his heart. His cousin, Stephen Amell (Arrow, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows), plays his character, Garret, solidly and honestly. The grittiness and no-nonsense portrayals of these characters will have you thinking that the two actors are far more than just handsome faces.
It sounds super exciting, and it really is, but the process and production behind this film is even more thrilling. As an avid fan of the Amells and an even bigger fan of the realistic science-fiction genre, I’ve been following this project since the moment it was announced.
In early 2016, Robbie Amell took to the crowdfunding website, Indiegogo, to advertise the short film and ask for funding by selling items known as “perks”. The Amells used their celebrity to raise funds by selling perks, like signed Code 8 merchandise. The film started production in June 2017, but they still needed funds to add the finishing touches. So, in February 2019, an official clip from the finalized version was released and premiere dates were announced and ready to sell. A perk that came with attending the premiere was the chance to meet the Amells, get a Code 8 t-shirt, and more.
I was lucky enough to attend one of the premieres last month and actually saw my name in the credits. They even spelled it right! If that wasn’t exciting enough, I got a chance to speak with the film’s director, Jeff Chan.
When I asked what it was like on set knowing the project was backed by so many trusting fans, Chan answered, “We made something that people responded to and got behind and supported. And I think it was a very heavy responsibility for us to do right by this, to make a movie that you have so many people excited about. And it was also something that we got to make with our friends in the process. It’s very rare in this business to actually work with your friends, so when you can do that, it makes it all that more rewarding. It was the best experience of my life.”
We hear casts and crews say it was fun on set all the time, but this project looked especially fun because they included the fans. The Amells would post their trademark Facebook Live videos to answer questions and promote more perks, and the crew even allowed some fans to be extras as part of a perk.
Chan described the process as “rewarding” and I couldn’t agree more. I’m just a simple fan, but it truly is rewarding seeing a film you’ve invested your time, money, and interest in on the big screen. And to top it all off, it was actually an awesome film.
Code 8 went above and beyond the standard science-fiction and superpower tropes. Without spoiling anything, the film not only tackled the complexities of poverty, but also the issues of drugs, police brutality, and gang violence. Code 8 gives you a break from the cliché superhero genre by hitting you with a taste of real issues.
Code 8 is now streaming on Netflix and has a series in the works at Quibi!
Nothing but love.
I also saw the film at one of the premieres and loved it, one of the best films of 2019 so far. I can’t wait to watch it again.