A recent item in the Hollywood Reporter laid out the whole extraordinary account, a bizarre showbiz footnote that’s part cautionary tale and part inspiring DIY triumph. Andrew Rork Getty, scion of the Getty oil dynasty, set out on a quixotic journey in 2002: he’d drafted the script for a horror film based loosely on a series of nightmares he’d personally had, and intended on using as much of his own fortune as necessary to bring it to life. Never one to let a little thing like inexperience stop him, Getty rounded up a crew of actors with no idea what they were getting into and dove into shooting on what was then titled The Storyteller. Production ultimately stretched out over the course of five years, progressing in fits and starts as Getty devised elaborate custom camera rigs, pricy original sets and, in one instance, a large animatronic octopus designed to play a drum kit.
After he called a wrap on shooting, Getty continued to obsess over perfecting each and every frame of this labor of love. He converted one of his mansion’s many rooms into a post-production suite, where he spent untold years on intricate in-camera special-effects techniques. Producer Michael Luceri estimates Getty’s personal expenditure on the movie somewhere in the neighborhood of $5m, a figure that left the heir in financial ruin. His story came to a tragic end in 2015, when he died at age 47 from a hemorrhaging ulcer brought on by a long history of recreational meth usage. He wouldn’t live to see the completion of his life’s work, but his absolute, unmatched devotion to the project shines through in the now-available finished cut.