Escape to A Feral World by Professor David Liban

A feral world was filmed over the course of four years.
Photo courtesy of IMDb

For the last four years, Professor David Liban collaborated with students, colleagues, and family to craft the post-apocalyptic film A Feral World. With an accomplished record in filmmaking, earning an Emmy with Mortal Lessons in 2010, Liban is also the Department Chair of Film in the College of Arts & Media. 

A Feral World could not have come at a better time. Blending together classic elements of the post-apocalyptic genre like guns, nano-bots, and bad-ass children, the film presents a captivating narrative perfect for a socially-distanced movie night at home. In the opening scene, the main character Sonny watches over an urban hellscape in a gas mask. Liban cast his son, Caleb Liban, to play the central role in this coming-of-age story, watching him grow up on camera over the course of filming. 

Many of the scenes should appear familiar to an audience in Colorado, with the movie shot in and around Denver. A major part of the film even occurs in the bowels of the Tivoli Student Union on campus. Amidst the bleak and barren society found in A Feral World, the character dynamics provide an entertaining relief from the increasingly post-apocalyptic qualities of the real world. Despite many of the characters being young, the film is not exactly made for kids.

Filming each summer over several years allowed for a natural transition, as well as improvements in technique and equipment as time went on. At any time, Liban and the crew could have lost an actor or location and the film would’ve had to adjust. Fortunately, they completed filming early in 2020 before the lockdowns began. Professor Liban emphasized the importance of his students in the production, saying “It was definitely like a symbiotic relationship… I’m hopeful that they got something out of it, but I definitely got something out of working with them.” With the final result of A Feral World, they all have something to be proud of and add to their experience. 

One of the central figures in the story is Lips the dog. After initially bringing together Sonny and Emma, he eventually leads the movie to its conclusion. Broken up into several chapters, the movie follows the group on their quest to find Emma’s daughter Janie. With such a long time between each period of filming, Liban said “The thing about doing an independent film is that if you decide to stop, the movie will end because nobody is, like, knocking on my door trying to get it done… We didn’t have investors, it was all crowd-funded.”  

A Feral World has been available for streaming on various platforms like Amazon Prime and Youtube since Sept. 22, and it will be included in the Denver Film Festival this year. It has already won awards at the Southeast Regional Film Festival for Best Sci-Fi Feature, Best Actor, and Best Actress.

This is a selection from the Oct. 14 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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