Character driven

Von Ancken steps in shoes of characters in first film

With a draft for his drama “Cameron’s Line” due to Universal Pictures in a few weeks, tyro helmer David Von Ancken has been feverishly working to finish his script.

But instead of sitting in front of a computer, the 36-year-old is out tailing a TV reporter through Queens to a gang-related homicide.

“We just interviewed the victim’s family,” says Von Ancken via cell phone. “We’re going to talk to the detectives.”

Over the next eight hours, Von Ancken will watch the journalist, who is also a former police officer, report the story, edit a 90-second spot in the back of the TV truck and then take the piece live in front of 2 million viewers.

“These guys do it for the rush,” Von Ancken says.

Winner of Hypnotic.com‘s Million Dollar Film Festival, which included a production and distribution deal with U, Von Ancken has spent the past month researching characters for his first feature, “Cameron’s Line,” tentatively skedded to shoot this fall for release in 2002. eV is following his journey throughout the production of the film.

“Cameron’s Line” centers on a geological fault that causes an earthquake in Manhattan and alters the lives of four characters — a bike messenger, a mailroom clerk, a cab driver and a TV reporter.

So far, Von Ancken has picked up not only the details of the fast-paced lifestyle but the lingo of an investigative reporter as well. ” ‘Crash and burn’ is the hour before the broadcast when you’re not ready,” explains Von Ancken. ” ‘A clean kill’ is a camera shot that no one else has.”

Von Ancken says this trivia will bring authenticity to his characters. His research has already led to the elimination of one of the original protagonists — a drug dealer from the projects.

The drug dealer “seemed like cliche bullshit and wasn’t working,” says Von Ancken, who replaced the character with a kid who works in a mailroom. He has also decided on the pic’s antagonist — a deputy mayor involved in a scandal with building inspectors.

While Von Ancken is progressing with the script, he has yet to settle the deal for his salary with U and Hypnotic, in talks for the past month. He has, however, ironed out the details of his representation, signing with Propaganda Management and the Rothman Agency/Original Artists.

And while the pic’s start date is still contingent on the settlement of guild contracts, Von Ancken has already started scouting future projects. He says he is reading two to three scripts a week, looking for ideas to follow up “Line.”

“But my primary concern for now has been finishing this script,” he says.