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Gritty thriller 'The Scenesters' comes to Downtown Independent

A serial killer has been picking off beautiful, blonde hipsters on the east side of Los Angeles and leaving behind a strange trail of clues. That’s the plot of the film “The Scenesters.” It’s playing for a week starting today at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles. The writer and director of the film, Todd Berger, spoke with KPCC’s Alex Cohen.

"The Scenesters" focuses on Charlie Newton (Blaise Miller). Newton is your average down-on-his-luck guy, except his day job is anything but average. He works for Aftershocks Inc., Los Angeles’ number one service for the efficient clean-up of crime scenes.

Across town, independent film director Wallace Cotton (Todd Berger) and his producer Roger Graham (Jeff Grace) can’t seem to find financing for their next project. This forces Wallace to get a job that utilizes his skills and takes advantage of the fact that he owns his own camera: crime scene videographer.

When these characters cross paths, the trouble begins. Charlie notices clues connecting the crime scenes and he realizes a serial killer is on the loose. Roger, knowing he has a gold mine on his hands, convinces Wallace to use his access to the crime scenes in order to make the first ever “docu-thriller.” Their film will be "The Scenesters," a gritty documentary about Charlie - your average clean-up boy – who follows the evidence and cracks open the biggest serial killer case LA has ever seen.

Things go great for a while. Then things get strange. The killer starts sending the filmmakers homemade videos of his killings. As the murders escalate and the killer (who dubs himself “The Soloist”) is revealed to the public, Charlie closes in on his trail.

Everything comes to a head when The Soloist decides to stage an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse for his grand finale.

Watch a trailer for the film:

Writer/director Todd Berger says the east side of Los Angeles plays a big part in the film. The filmmaker, originally from New Orleans, says he never sees this part of town represented in movies. "To me, living there, it's a film noir wonderland," he says, "I wanted to portray it as I feel about it."

For example, the L.A. River is featured in the film's climactic ending. Berger says everyone jokes that it's a monstrosity of cement. "If you look at it in the right way, it's beautiful," he says, "beautiful in a very strange, unusual way. It's one of my favorite spots in the city now."

Each night of the screening of "The Scenesters" at the Downtown Independent Theater, the film will be followed by a live local band:

- Sister Mantos plus a surprise guest from the soundtrack

- Spirit Animal
- Le Switch

- Baths
- Jeans Wilder

- Slang Chickens
- Papa

- Captain Ahab
- The Pukes
(featuring members of the Airborne Toxic Event, M83, Mariachi El Bronx, Learning Music, and more)

- Big Search
(Matt P. of Foreign Born, Fool’s Gold) and Friends

- The Franks
- Lord Huron