Q & A
If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in?
Not really. It seems like nothing good can really come from a world that serves as host to a portal to another dimension(?), where the creatures inside want to get out and eat your very essence.
Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?
After giving it some thought, most Sci-Fi worlds tend to be pretty bleak for one reason or another. But, if I HAD to pick one, I’d probably hit up the Star Wars universe (I know you said “world”, but I’m going to expand that to “universe”). Lots of cool planets, and fun ships to play on.
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?
I’ll go with late-stage Seth Brundle (KIDDING!). On the topic of insects, I’ll go with Spider-Man. He’s resilient, keeps his cool when he’s outgunned, and clutch when the stakes are high!
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?
In Sci-Fi, and real life, I find the thought of advanced robot A.I. quite terrifying. I mean, when I see those videos from Boston Dynamics, I can’t help but think to myself that each of these new creations are just an early design for our demise. If the robots just want to make some films, I will happily support that over total annihilation.
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?
I like this one. First, I’ve got to recruit DUTCH, from Predator. He’s a real survivor and knows how to get the job done. Now, I’ve got to up-the-ante and create a bit of a paradox. My next selection is the T-800, from the Terminator series. He might not be the most advanced model, but he’s proven to be the best time and time again. Now that we’re talking robots, I think we need ROBOCOP in the mix, since his moral code will serve as the compass for the group (most of the time). My last pick goes to one of the all-time greats, Ellen Ripley. If she can survive multiple encounters with the Alien menace, she’ll be of indispensable to the Sci-Fi Tune Squad. If this is a movie, I feel like I’m gonna be the first one to get killed…
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?
I can’t really think of one SPECIFIC idea, but I will say this. Sometimes films/concepts in my head that aren’t ready to materialize yet have come from some smaller idea I had for a scene, or a single shot, and there’s nothing else to support it yet. It’s floating in my brain until I can tack a few more elements to that single idea. Often, they sit in my head for years. When I start to get momentum going on a new project, I’ll sift through my mental rolodex of scenes/shots that had no foundation yet, and if there’s a good fit, I may add it to the current project I’m working on. Sounds weird, but if the idea fits organically with the project, then that seedling has found a home, and I finally remove it from my head.
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 do consider myself part of the Sci-Fi community. It’s the genre that’s closest to my heart, and I always make an effort to see those types of films, both tentpole and indie. My hope is that as time goes on, my films become a more immersive part of that community as well. I’ll put it to you this way. Let’s assume your brain was in the future and your body was in the present, and someone flipped a switch to keep the two separate, I’d find that pretty isolating. But, I still think we should give it a try.
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 definitely consider myself more of a digital person, but there are exceptions. Film-wise, I’m a huge fan of practical make up effects and production design on location, so I wouldn’t want to sacrifice that. Yes, there is a disconnect it seems. When I look at most of the films I’ve done, it appears that technology is either more advanced, or more dated. The only contemporary tech I’m using is what I’m actively making projects with.
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?
I love this question. One of the most fun aspects for me as a filmmaker is looking for reference material for props and production design. For example, we were recently designing a small time machine prop to resemble to resemble a mini hadron collider. One prop design that I always found really cool was that they used a Ducati engine as the reference design for the teleporter in THE FLY. If I use an image or reference piece for my designers, I always stress that they add their own creative touches so that the item isn’t derivative, and they can showcase their skill.
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, Philip K. Dick (but I’d choose Lovecraft overall), PRACTICAL!! Let’s be honest, Utopia would be great for obvious reasons, but there always seems to be a seedy underbelly to those. As for the Dystopia, it could be a lot of fun, until you end up as a lucky contestant on THE RUNNING MAN! This is like having to choose between your kids. If you put a gun to my head, I’d have to choose Post-Apoc.