Jeffery Williams was 12 years old when he purchased “Fever Dreams,” an adult-rated comic book that features a 16-page science fiction story he fell in love with.
This week, Williams’ film adaptation of that story, “MEAD” premieres in Ozark. The 105-minute film will be shown at B&B Theatres: Ozark/Nixa 12, located at 620 N. 25th St. in Ozark. The premiere starts Wednesday at 7 p.m., and 52 seats are available. Tickets are available on the theater’s website at
The film features Robert Picardo (The Doctor in “Star Trek: Voyager”), Patton Oswalt (Remy in “Ratatouille” and Spence Olchin in “The King of Queens”) and Patrick Warburton (David Puddy in “Seinfeld,” main role in “The Tick” and Kronk in “The Emperor’s New Groove”).
“Fever Dreams,” released in 1972, includes two stories written by comic book and television writer Jan Strnad. The story that “MEAD” is based on is “To Meet the Faces You Meet” with illustrations from Richard Corben, known for his work in “Heavy Metal” magazine.
“MEAD” stands for “Mobile Extrasensory Autonomous Deceptor” and is the main artificial intelligence character in the comic and movie. Created for “galaxy-wide domination,” MEAD eventually becomes sentient and turns its back on its creator.
“After I read this comic, I said out loud to myself, ‘I’m going to make a movie of this some day,'” Williams recalled.
Six years in the making
Work on “MEAD” began in 2016, when Williams, the film’s executive producer, director, co-writer, editor and animator, pitched the idea to a few colleagues. Williams is the founder and CEO of Parallax Studio. It was through his studio based in Nixa that Williams worked on the film.
Prior to pre-production, Williams sent a two-minute animation demo of MEAD to Corben, who Williams worked with in the past. Through an email chain, Corben shared the video with Strnad, who was eager to help Williams on the project.
“I’m blown away by the quality,” Strnad recalled of Williams’ demo.
Over the course of three years, Williams animated the entire film — minus the around 60 live actors — and worked with Strnad to transform the 16-page comic into a 100-plus page screenplay.
Williams guessed about 86% of the film is animated. The actors worked on a full greenscreen set, from the backdrops to furniture.
“In my years on ‘Star Trek’ I often was looking off camera at something that wasn’t real, but I was on a real set,” Picardo said in “Making MEAD,” a documentary about the film. “Now, the set wasn’t real. It was just a lot of green.”
Filming occurred over 18 days in late 2021. At this time, Williams had completed all of the animation, so the cast and crew were able to get a look at the scenes they were acting/working in.
“(Animation) was obviously less expensive than having to build spaceship sets, but it was just a mission I set out for myself from a production standpoint,” Williams said. “I didn’t know it would work. I didn’t know until after we were done (filming) everybody.”
Once production wrapped, editing the film took an additional six months.
“I discovered him when I was a child, he influenced me deeply, probably more deeply than any single influence,” Williams said.
On Dec. 2, 2020, Corben died following heart surgery. He was 80 years old.
“It’s important to me to do him justice, and I know we did,” Williams said. “He told me that from what he had seen before he passed away. He felt like my script stayed true to the comic, even though we had expanded the story.”
For Strnad, “MEAD” is important because it embodies his 50-year-old original story, honors his friend and gives him an opportunity to achieve a long-term goal.
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“I tried for several years to break into the feature film market as a writer … I never could crack it,” Strnad said. “‘MEAD’ is my feature film debut as co-writer with Jeffery, and it happened after I’ve retired, based on a comic story I wrote 50 years ago. ‘MEAD’ just goes to show that you never know what’s going to happen in this crazy business.”
Strnad said he’s seen preliminary cuts of the film and is looking forward to seeing it on the big screen soon.
Here are the films released in August: