MERIDEN, Conn. (AP) — Actor David Chokachi sits in the kitchen of The Reserve nightclub on Colony Street getting his hair trimmed and spiked for the opening scene of “Sensory Perception,” an indie sci-fi thriller.
Chokachi plays an alpha male who confronts a dark monk named The Cognition, played by Kris Keyes. It is the last scene to be shot before “Sensory Perception” goes into post-production.
“Tonight is the martini night,” said executive producer David Gere.
Chockachi joins Keyes and Corbin Bernsen (“L.A. Law,” ”Major League,” ”Psych”), John Savage (“The Deer Hunter”) and John Wesley Shipp (“Dawson’s Creek”) in a film that has taken three years to complete.
“Sensory Perception” is a futuristic drama. Savage portrays the president of United Earth. The movie tells the story of a recovering drug addict and a soldier struggling to find their place in the world as they deal with visions of an apocalypse.
The central character, Jeremy Jacobs, is a recovering addict struggling to get his life back together. Things get harder when he begins having visions of an apocalyptic future. Stalked by strange messages and shadowy figures, primarily The Cognition, he is persuaded there is a way to avert this future disaster.
Chockachi, who worked with Gere on “Army of the Damned,” agreed to shoot the opening after being approached by Gere and seeing the work of writer and director Al Signore, who hails from Waterbury.
“I saw some of the stills Al was doing and I was very intrigued,” Chockachi said. “He is shooting with a new style and has a vision. The chance to be in a movie with that kind of a cast is a dream come true for any actor.”
Gere, who is a partner at The Reserve with James Peracchio and Anthony Tedesco, had the perfect venue for the nightclub scene.
The club, formerly known as The Vault and Club Synergee, has remade itself into a performance art venue, including live music acts and open mic nights.
Fernando Alers, owner of United Rhythm Dance Studio, knows Peracchio from an earlier production. On Sunday night, Alers gathered about 25 of his performers to appear in a nightclub scene.
The group had to arrive in club attire and makeup. Fernando said it was a tremendous opportunity.
“They were looking for extras and certain people,” Alers said. “They had girls and guys dancing. Even my son was involved.”
Much of “Sensory Perception” was shot in Waterbury, Bridgeport, Shelton, Meriden and Middletown.
It was important to Signore to use as much local talent as possible, and Gere agreed.
“Everyone works harder,” Gere said. “Why hire someone who is 100 miles away when there is talent here?”
Signore, of Pale Nails Productions, wanted to show the film industry that Connecticut could compete with Boston and New York in terms of talent and production, not just set locations.
Gere has worked professionally on productions with Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg. West Hartford co-producer Seth Rosenblatt helped boost the final production.
“We just continue to raise the bar and keep bringing in name actors,” Gere said. “We figure why not? We’re not on somebody else’s production schedule.”
Signore expects that the number of stars in the movie lineup will guarantee it a distribution deal, and it will likely be featured at the Tribeca Film Festival and others.
“Digital brought filmmaking to the masses,” Signore said. “But it gets harder to stand out. Bernsen legitimized it.”