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John Valley:The Making of Duncan

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

One of Austin's up-and-coming directors is in post-production of his debut feature film 'Duncan', a political satire based on the pizzagate conspiracy theory.


"Never be boring."

That is the advice that John Valley gives to other creatives striving to generate new artististic content as he sits in his office chair taking a break from editing his film, "Duncan". Valley takes his own advice to stray from the banal in his first feature film. The movie follows the story of Karen Black, a young black woman recently fired from her first day as an intern at a popular conspiracy radio talk-show, and her employed companion, Duncan Plump, a bodyguard and member of the local militia, as they search to unravel the claims that an Austin, Texas pizza parlor run by the reptilian illuminati covertly conducts satanic rituals and deviant acts against innocent children.

The fruition of "Duncan" came quickly, with Valley writing the script in the spring of this year and production beginning and wrapping in October; though, the film has semi-been in the works for a pretty long time now. About three years ago, Valley got the idea to do a modern-day satirical remake of "Taxi Driver", a movie that his father showed him growing up, reflecting the current political/social climate. Valley started a couple of drafts then shelved the project. Following that, he began to draft a remake of "The King of Comedy", trying to create something that was timely and relevant to his audience's lives; he shelved that project as well. Finally, after reading about pizzagate, the 2016 news story of a man, who after hearing a conspiracy theory about children sex trafficking rings being run out of pizza parlors across the country, brought his gun into a Washington D.C. pizza joint demanding to be shown the children; lest he shoot.

"It blew me away that not only would people go so far as to take a gun into a pizza parlor; but the news covered this and no one really gave a shit about it because nobody died."

After hearing people still talking about pizzagate, Valley took that as the signal that he needed to finally make the movie that he had been gearing up to make after all of these years.

Valley's motto to never be boring extends to his other work and spills into his personality; evident from his outlandish jokes and even more outlandish mustache. He directs music videos, like "Lioness" for MAMAHAWK, which has recently been nominated for the "Best Austin Video" award by the Austin Music Video Festival, and also acts. Acting has been a passion of Valley's since he was a little boy in Iowa; though there were no community theaters in his area to be a part of.

"The only way that I could act as a kid was to make movies where I played every character."

Valley's dad also showed him movies like "Taxi Driver" and "Clockwork Orange" when he was 12-years-old that greatly influenced his love for the craft of filmmaking. From that moment, he wanted to do filmmaking in tandem with his acting. Valley eventually went to film school because that is what he thought he was "supposed to do" in order to be a filmmaker, but soon dropped out to take part in his first movie production. During this time, Valley became infatuated with Terrence Malik, a Texas filmmaker.

"I sorta just wanted to be in his atmosphere just creatively to kind of absorb that."

Valley found out that Malick was based out of Austin, Texas and decided to pack his bags to head to the Central Texas city. Nine years later, and he still calls the city his home and a place where he as accumulated many friends and associates in the industry with the same drive and need to create. As Valley continues his career in the film industry, we can only wait and see what "never boring" production he has in store for us next.


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