PRODUCTION FIELD NOTES
- DEVELOPEMENT -
The genesis for the film began in the summer of 2016, in the run up to an incredibly volatile political season that saw both sides of the aisle dig their heels in for a fight. Supporters began to confront one another at protests and counter-protests, sometimes sparking full out physical melees.
Rimrock Pictures writers and filmmakers, Rob Lambert and Joe Varkle, started mulling ideas for a low-budget character study they could produce themselves. They wanted to tell a story about an isolated character who constructs his own destructive reality.
- THE SCRIPT -
Once the filmmakers decided that they wanted to focus on the extremes of the Internet and the vulnerable young men who fall prey to it, the script entered development in the spring of 2017. They drew upon their own experiences, including Lambert’s childhood acquaintance with Montana school shooter Wayne Lo.
They also explored perspectives in several online communities and researched the habits, beliefs, and ideologies of numerous spree killers to build a composite for “Ronnie.”
A final draft of CUCK was completed by August 2017 and submitted to The Black List in September, where it trended for several months, receiving high ratings as well as controversial critiques.
- PRE-PRODUCTION -
With help from the noise of the Black List, the filmmakers sent the script out to investors to raise funds and quickly secured initial funding with Lambert set to direct.The film began
pre-production in the winter of 2017.
Kara Sullivan Casting was hired and after seeing several hundred auditions for Ronnie, Zachary Ray Sherman was cast in December 2017 and successfully gained 45 pounds for the role.
Zachary Ray Sherman gained 45 lbs
to play the character of Ronnie
Oscar-nominated actress Sally Kirkland joined the cast and drew upon her own diverse experiences to play Mother. Rounding out the casting of the main performers, Monique Parent brought tenderness and edge to the role of Candy, and Timothy V. Murphy offered a tough, dangerous aesthetic in the role of Bill.
Cinematographer Nick Matthews, a long time collaborator of Lambert’s, signed on to shoot the film as location scouting and casting continued into January of 2018. A number of key locations in the San Fernando Valley were selected for their dark, faded aesthetic, something Lambert and Matthews wanted to embed in the film’s imagery.
Production Designer Prerna Chawla came onboard and she, Lambert, and Matthews collaborated and drew on dark, low light, loner films and books as references. In past interviews, the filmmakers have cited Snowtown Murders, Bad Lieutenant and Larry Clark’s photography book, Tulsa.
To drop viewers into the world of “Ronnie”, nine different cameras were used during shooting: Alexa Mini, C300 MK II, HVX200, Canon Handicam, Blackmagic Ursa Mini, Store security camera, Microsoft PC Vlog Camera, Canon 7D, and Leica d-lux 109.
The location scout had a difficult time locking down locations with the film’s controversial title, so CUCK was shot under the working title, “The Chat Room.” The film was shot on location in the San Fernando Valley; Van Nuys, North Hollywood, and Chatsworth.
The “Anaheim rally scene” was shot in Beverly Hills during a real protest and rally, with Lambert and Sherman blending into the crowd to shoot the necessary scene work.
- PRODUCTION -
Principal photography was completed over 18 shooting days between February 21st and March 21st, 2018).
The SAG-AFTRA production began as an Ultra-Low Budget Project (under $250k), but as VFX and post costs increased, the production was classified as a Moderate Low Budget Project.
- POST-PRODUCTION -
Post-production began in April 2018, and the first cut of the film was completed by July. The filmmakers circulated the initial cut to potential investors with the help of seasoned Executive Producers and filmmakers Chris Bender, Jake Weiner and Salome Breziner over the summer of 2018 in order to raise and secure finishing funds for VFX, score, sound mix, and color.
Editor Mac Nelsen oversaw-post production and VFX, in which hundreds of onscreen compositions and full website builds were created from scratch to mirror “Ronnie’s” online world.
Harmony Gun and Thomas Ouziel did both Sound FX and Sound Mixing.
Music Supervisor and Producer Mike Turner successfully lobbied for “They Don’t Know” by Tracey Ullman to be the end credits song.
Company 3 New York and Colorist Kath Raisch executed color and finish for the film as the final cut was completed and delivered in February 2019.
- FESTIVALS -
CUCK had its festival premiere in March 2019 at the Cleveland International Film Festival where it was nominated for Best American Independent Feature Film. Following the first night’s screening, the filmmakers were approached by Gravitas Ventures and established a US theatrical distribution agreement.
At Oldenburg International Film Festival 2019, Zachary Ray Sherman won the Seymour Cassel Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor. The film was also nominated for the German Independence Award.
- RELEASE -
The Official Red Band trailer was launched on September 4th, 2019, stirring a storm of controversy. A number of high-profile influencers denounced the film, and its IMDB page was “review bombed” before the film was released.
CUCK officially premiered on October 4th, 2019 in select theaters and VOD. The film had a two-week theatrical run, screening in ten cities nationwide.
CUCK Premeire - Cast Photo
Bounty Films later secured all media rights distribution in the UK and Australia. Cardinal XD has all media worldwide rights Non-US and Non-UK/AUS.
- RECEPTION -
Despite the vitriol the controversial film stirred across social media, critical response was balanced. The film received thoughtful reviews from major publications, including The Guardian, The Daily Beast and The Hollywood Reporter. Director Rob Lambert gave his own perspectives in a Vanity Fair interview.
- UPCOMING -
The film is currently available around the world on VOD. The UK theatrical release, postponed due to COVID-19, is slated to begin when theaters reopen.