Q & A with the Director and Screenwriter of What If Wendy

What If Wendy

Directed by James Sims


Screenplay by Gabriella Nieves

“As her deceased daughter’s birthday approaches, Dr. Mara Stevens begins to ask herself, what if Wendy hadn’t died?”

This is our attempt to ask standardized “Interview Magazine” questions of all our filmmakers. But, we understand that your films are far from standard. If a question doesn’t apply, take a page from Robert McNamara and answer the question you wish you were asked.

If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?

I definitely wouldn’t want to live in the world of What If Wendy. Genetic engineering, while fascinating, seems like a very unethical practice. That being said, it was a great tool in propelling the story! – Gabriella

I think the world of “What If Wendy” could be interesting to live in. The technology advancements would be amazing to consider, both for the better and for the worse. As for a Sci-Fi world I’d buy a one way ticket to, anyone that would allow me to fly without a plane or other aircraft! – James

Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?

I don’t really have a sci-fi “spirit animal” but my favorite sci-fi character is Superman. He’s the reason I got into science fiction and comic books as a kid, so I owe him a lot. Plus he’s got a great moral backbone. I know many think that makes him boring, but I find him admirable. – Gabriella

Superman all the way. I love the aspect of his character that lays his life down for the wellbeing of others (and the whole flying ability thing). I don’t know much about spirit animals but if I had to pick one, a Thundercat (hoooooo!). – James

Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?

If robots start making their own sci-fi films, we have more to be concerned about than whether or not their films are good… – Gabriella

If the robot is like Sonny from the film “i, Robot”, definately friend. But as soon as Sonny started booking directing gigs over me, foe! – James

In 1996, Bugs Bunny recruited Michael Jordan and Bill Murray to form the greatest basketball squad of all-time, the Tune Squad; you’re Bugs, who’s on your Sci-Fi Tune Squad?

Darth Vader, Kara Thrace, Superman, Ellen Ripley, and Chewbacca. – Gabriella

The Flash, the Hulk, Michael Jordan (circa 1992), and Ant-Man. – James

You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?

Time travel. Every one of my time travel ideas has been pretty awful, mostly because I get distracted by the paradoxes. – Gabriella

My bad ideas usually come out when I’m just trying to get something on the page or trying really hard to be funny. For example working out a black robot police officer named named BroboCop. Might be the worst. – James

Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community? Or when your brain is in the future and your body’s in the present, is that isolating?

I have a huge respect and love for sci-fi. It’s a genre (along with fantasy) that can explore real human experiences through imaginative, bizarre worlds and storylines. It’s exploring the familiar through the unfamiliar. – Gabriella

Recently came to the huge realization that I have been apart of the Sci-Fi community since I was 7 or 8. I grew up on Star Trek: TNG, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. When I started looking back on some of my favorite films I realized that they all have a Sci-Fi element that should have been obvious. Working on What If Wendy has made me realize that I’d really enjoy working on a Sci-Fi feature in the near future. – James

Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?

I’m very digital, except for when it comes to books. I love having a real book in my hand. – Gabriella

I’m all digital, but I still like writing film ideas with an real pen and paper. I try to keep a healthy balance. I’m always looking for way to bring current technology trends into my films without it feeling gimmicky. – James

When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?

Our biggest challenge when it came to props was adhering to our micro-budget while maintaining high standards. We tried to get very creative and think outside the box for props. We used a picture frame for Mara’s alarm clock and a glass desk from Target for her computer monitor. We were able to pull off those props because our Director and VFX Supervisor, James, is an absolute genius. Arguable, our most important prop was actually the house we shot in. The minimalistic, sterile feel of the home mirrored Mara’s emotional state and helped sell the near-future time frame of the story. – Gabriella

When creating props and sets, I feel that it’s vital to keep some sense of our contemporary world in order for viewers to buy into it. I’ve found that whenever films go too far from the everyday world we experience, it can be difficult for audience to relate and that can hurt the experience of the film. – James

Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?

Star Wars; no preference; a healthy balance of both practical and CGI; dystopian; I think there’s a lot of exciting things to explore in the pre-apocalypse space, so I’d like to see more of that. – Gabriella

Star Trek; Philip K. Dick; Practical, complemented with CGI; Utopia no question; Pre Apocalypse because I’m not trying to experience life without electricity and running water! – James