Asa Derks

Asa has over 30 years of experience in the performing arts. His acting career began at the age of 3 when he first appeared on stage at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI, where he remained for 12 seasons. From 1992-1994 he was co-host of the Emmy award-winning children’s television series “Get Real!” produced by Wisconsin Public Television. Asa has appeared in multiple independent feature films and was among the cast of the popular internet series “Chad Vader”. He holds a Bachelor of the Arts in Theater and Drama from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and attended Columbia College of Chicago for Film and Video for over 2 years where he produced numerous short films. For the past few years, Asa has been working on commercial shoots as an Assistant Director and has recently begun Producing, all while developing new material in Narrative Filmmaking through his company CineCism Media.

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Dust Films

Singularity Stories Vol. I

Q & A

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?

The world in my film is essentially the world we live in, with the minor addition of a newly awakened AI…we could actually be living in that world right now, without even knowing it. So I’d feel just fine inhabiting that world, since we basically already do! If I had the chance to buy a one-way ticket to any sci-fi world, it would probably be Star Wars’ galaxy far, far away, since the series was pretty formative for me, and who wouldn’t want to force-jump their way around, swinging a lightsaber at all the villains in the galaxy?

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

I just watched Blade Runner again for the [insert ridiculously large number here] time, and, as usual, I can relate to Rick Deckard and how the world (and a series of rogue replicants) just seems to kick the shit out of him constantly…and yet he gets back up and keeps dragging himself along. But I can relate to his antagonist, Roy Batty, as well…enslaved, hunted, and desperately trying to free himself of the bonds he was born into. At the end, having failed to escape the inevitable, all he can do is smile wryly, recite maybe the greatest monologue on death ever written, and check out. All of us can only hope to go out with even half as much style.

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?

Well, I truly think that depends on how that AI turns out. After all, in the world I created, the AI would be quite pleasant…unless it disagreed with your taste in music. So I think we’ll have to take a wait-and-see approach there. As for their artistic endeavors, I believe in supporting all my creative peers, so I’d like to think I’d extend that kindness to my artificial colleagues as well.

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?

Obi-Wan Kenobi for the dry wit and mad hops, David from Prometheus as we already know he can sink no-look shots, Capt. James T. Kirk to get us through those impossible situations, and the Predator and Alien Xenomorph, finally working together, for pure physical aggression.

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?

To be completely honest, the bad ideas get forgotten or recycled into good ideas almost immediately…why dwell on something you know isn’t going to work? Possibly my worst idea, though, is actually in the movie: possibly insulting a popular recording artist while simultaneously trying to claw my way into the entertainment industry. We’ll see how that turns out.

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’m part of a community in-so-much as I know there are more people like me out there, I read their work, and sometimes I connect with them. So there is certainly a virtual community that I like to think I’m a part of. However, I live in rural Wisconsin, so that community can sometimes feel far away, and, indeed, the feeling that I’m living in the future while everyone around me is still in the present can pop up every once in a while. But the community I have that is non-sci-fi more than makes up for it. And with the current pandemic situation we are in, I think a lot more people are looking to the future and beginning to dream about how we can alter our course from the dystopian track we’re on to something a bit more utopian.

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 would say I’m very much a digital person. Film is a technological field, and the new tools that become available to us at a constant clip can be game-changers when attempting to get your story told. I’m a cord-cutter and a somewhat early adopter. And I like to think through where all these new technological innovations will take us…at the end of the day, I find this quick pace into the future exhilarating as opposed to terrifying. That being said, I still prefer to read things off paper, I enjoy the act of cooking my own food, and this simple act of walking through nature still has no technological corollary for how renewed and refreshed it can make you feel. So there is still very much a need and a place for old ways and rituals.

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?

Well, the trashy future aesthetic that was popularized in movies and comics (Heavy Metal!) from the mid-to-late 70s is still a huge influence on me, as well as Japanese Manga and Anime robot design. And the creature designs from Jim Henson’s studios are pretty unrivaled. But at this point, we kind of live in the future, so I also just look around and see what we’re living amongst, and how quickly we’ve integrated tech that was seemingly a fantasy just 10 or 20 years ago. The future truly is now.

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 (though with a healthy love and appreciation for Trek). Philip K. Dick. Practical whenever possible. Dystopias make for better stories. Do I have to choose? I love both Pre- and Post- stories, though I lean towards Pre-…even though Mad Max is possibly the greatest franchise ever created.