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What Are You Working On? With Spencer McCall

Spencer McCall's doc about an SF-based Alternate Reality Game, "The Institute" played at last year's Mill Valley Film Festival and opens in limited release this weekend. Photo by Josh Shaw.

7x7 checks in with a member of the local film scene and takes their temperature. This week, we chat with film director (and dog cloning enthusiast) Spencer McCall. 

What do you do, how old are you, and where do you live in The Bay Area/San Francisco?

I'm a multimedia producer at a tech company by day, motion graphics adjunct professor at SFSU by night. I'm 27 and I live in the Inner Richmond with my lovely new wife Jennifer. She's a dish.

How long have you lived in there?

I've lived here for almost two years. I've lived in SF since graduating for the animation program at SF State in 2008. Hey, that rhymes! I've lived in just about every corner of this 7x7 square, and the Inner Richmond is my favorite. I like Green Apple Books a lot

What did you do before you worked in film?

I used  to be a telemarketer, a lifeguard, and finally a Rodeo Narc: I went and spied on illegal tobacco advertising at public events, even though I was an outspoken smoking supporter when I was doing it. I'm a hypocrite, I reckon. This was all before getting my big break with a dog cloning company in Marin as their in house videographer. I guess that was the start of my "film" career. I've been ditsying around with movies and animation since I was pretty little-ish. 

So… what are you working on?

The fact that I'm getting a national (limited) theatrical release for my first feature, The Institute, is still pretty incomprehensible to me [Ed note: We interviewed Spencer about the film last year]. I always figured I'd be floating around my 20s and 30s doing odd video jobs until something landed in my lap. I was incredibly lucky to have this subject be brought too my attention via Gordon Mclachlan (featured in the film) and I felt it was too interesting and bizarre a phenomenon to pass up. I hope the film acts as an extension of the game and inspires others to take their own steps into elsewhere. 

Right now, I'm in the super secret early planning phases of a movie with my pal Joey Izzo, who just got into Cannes in the Spring. You ever see Bowfinger? It's like that but a documentary. What if all this insane weird sci-fi thriller mystery shit started happening to you and there were hidden cameras to capture it all? Well, we're in the early stage of identifying one such individual who has somewhat of an interesting life story you could say, and then we will begin staging bizarre, creepy clandestine events around their public and personal life. 

They won't have any idea what's going on because we'll hide cameras in their home and car and crap. We're going to see how a certain someone reacts to sudden voyeuristic creepers stalking them. Oh, and they're an actor and will believe they are in a totally different movie. Darn, I said too much. 

What do you like best about working in San Francisco/The Bay Area?

I love the bay because of the crazies. There's so many wonderful wacky people I get to interact with and collaborate with. I'd be sad if I didn't live somewhere with people interested in cultural chaos and silliness and spooky adventures. If I can make a project that leaves me laughing and everyone else confused and maybe even scared, I'll be having fun. I like jokes. Just don't you dare play one on me!

Is there anyone you want to say hello to?

Hi Jenny, I really like you cause you say mean things that keep me in check. Will you marry me again?

The Institute opens this weekend at the Roxie.