About The Film
If you grew up near New Jersey, the chances are pretty good that the mere sight of those words floods your brain with feelings of dread, doom, and possibly the memories of at least a few scars—if not the time of your life.
Here's the gist: During its 1980s and 1990s heyday, New Jersey’s Action Park earned a reputation as the most insane — and possibly the most dangerous — amusement park that ever existed.
It was known as a lawless land, ruled by drunk teenage employees and frequented by even drunker teenage guests. The rides were experimental and illogical, and seemed to ignore even the most basic notions of physics or common sense—not to mention safety.
Let’s put it this way: There was an enclosed tube waterslide that went in a complete loop—and that wasn’t even close to the most dangerous ride at the park.
Lying somewhere between Lord of the Flies and a Saw movie, Action Park is remembered as a place so insane and treacherous that, decades later, anybody who ever stepped foot in it is left wondering whether their memories could possibly be true. It became a nearly perfect breeding ground for urban legends and myths.
And then there was the park’s founder: A genius madman who was willing to break any rule to bring his vision to life, including the creation of a fake insurance company in the Cayman Islands to circumvent insurance regulations. As cunning as he was criminal, Action Park became the pure expression of his particular worldview, which valued self-responsibility above all else—including basic safety measures and physically practical rides.
But despite—or perhaps because—of its safety record and notoriety, Action Park is remembered fondly by a generation who cut their teeth (and their skin) on the park’s treacherous attractions. To many, the scars left by the park are viewed as badges of honor. Surviving a day at Action Park was far from a sure thing—but if you did it, you left feeling like a changed person.
Class Action Park is the first-ever feature-length documentary to explore the legend, legacy, and truth behind a place that long ago entered the realm of myth. Shirking the trappings of nostalgia, the film uses investigative journalism, newly unearthed and never-before-seen documents and recordings, original animations, and interviews with the people who lived it to reveal the shocking true story for the first time.
Welcome to Action Park: A place the likes of which, we will almost certainly never see again.
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Chris Charles Scott - Director/Producer
Chris Charles Scott is an award-winning documentarian and storyteller. A native of New Chapel Hill, Texas, his series The Shape of Shreveport was awarded the Documentary of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in 2016 and his work What About Waco was awarded the Special Grand Jury Prize at the Deep in the Heart Film Festival.
Seth Porges - Director/Producer
Seth Porges is a journalist and filmmaker. Previously, he worked as editor at Popular Mechanics and has appeared in roughly 50 episodes of Travel's Mysteries at the Museum. He holds the world record for giving the most unique Nerd Nite talks and is widely cited as a leading expert on the history of pinball. His unique ability to detect art forgeries at a quick glance has earned him an appearance on the primetime Fox competition show Superhuman.
Seth's previous short film on Action Park was viewed by millions, inspired a Johnny Knoxville movie, and caused the park to reopen under its old name.
Class Action Park features an original musical score, composed and recorded by The Holladay Brothers.
Hays and Ryan Holladay are composers and multimedia artists based in Los Angeles. With a shared background in composition and music production, their projects span a range of fields and disciplines from sound and video installations to mobile apps. The duo received early praise for their location-aware composition: music created and mapped to a physical landscape, released as mobile apps, that uses GPS to dynamically alter the music as the listener explores their surroundings.
Their first production, The National Mall, a location-aware album mapped to the eponymous park in Washington, DC, was described by the Washington Post as “magical…like using GPS to navigate a dream” and was included in their list of the year’s top albums (a first for an app). The Holladay Brothers have since gone on to create similar works based around New York’s Central Park, SXSW Interactive in Austin, and other sites around the world, partnering with groups like IBM and the US State Department in the process.
As a Senior TED Fellow, Ryan spoke about their location-based music project at the annual TED Conference in a talk that has been viewed more than a million times. In 2016, they created new commissions for Dolby’s headquarters, the Hirshhorn Museum of Art and Disney’s Magic Kingdom, among others. Their scoring and sound design work can be heard in television shows like ESPN’s 30 for 30 series and on podcasts such as Sincerely X, Constitutional, Your Undivided Attention, and Meditative Story. The Holladay Brothers have spoken at universities and institutions worldwide and have been featured in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, BBC World Service, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, WIRED and Fast Company.
Visit their website at www.theholladaybrothers.com
To bring its unique time and place to life, Class Action Park features original animations produced by Richard Langberg.
The style is inspired by the sorts of cartoons that would have been popular for the generation spending its summers at Action Park. Action Park is a place steeped in whispered stories and rumors, and the animations allow us to bring them to life. As the movie drifts away from the land of legend and myth and towards hard facts, the animations peter out and eventually stop.
As the animator puts it:
“Overall, the style was inspired by Schoolhouse Rock, with a little Peanuts, and Pink Panther in there. The approach to any of the scenes started out with me closing my eyes, and watching it play back in my mind, and only when I laughed or had a strong response did I know what direction to take.
The most difficult challenge was to make it seem poorly made. I found myself, on more than a few occasions, having to cut back on illustrations or shading. I had to learn to be okay with bad line work, and repeatedly leaving errors in there to add to the authentic period feel.”
The Original Short & Press
While Class Action Park is an all-new feature-length documentary, it is also the spiritual successor of a hit viral short: The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever. The short was released in 2013 and caused Action Park to reopen under its old name for a few seasons, while also inspiring the Johnny Knoxville comedy Action Point.
The original short, produced by Class Action Park director/producer Seth Porges (along with Matt Robertson, Anthony Layser, and Danica Layser) has been viewed millions of times, and made countless media appearances. It can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.
Select press for the original short includes:
New York magazine: A Brief History Of New Jersey’s Deadly Action Park
New York Post: The Dangerous Return Of The World’s Most Insane Theme Park
Business Insider: The 'World's Most Dangerous Amusement Park' Reopens In New Jersey