After graduating from Vancouver Film School in 1995, Bobby Bala worked for various video game companies in California and New York as a 3D Animator/Visual FX Artist.
In 2004 he founded Elite Home Theater Seating (Elite HTS) – a manufacturer of custom, luxury home theater seating. Using his background in 3D animation and modeling, Bala designed various modular recliner designs which allow the client to interactively build and customize their chair on his website.
In 2015, after 10 years of steady growth, Bala decided to temporarily step away from Elite HTS to pursue his passion of film making. Utilizing his background and experience as a visual FX artist, he dove head first into an ambitious 30 minute sci-fi film called ‘The Shipment’. It was finally completed in 2018 and was accepted into many film festivals around the world including Tribeca.
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?
Yes, definitely. Sign me up for any world that includes space travel and exploration. If human beings continue to exist 5000 years from now, interstellar space travel may become possible within that time. So if you believe that to be true, then technically we’re actually living in that world. It just hasn’t happened yet.
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?
Though I’m not a big Tom Cruise fan, I think I definitely relate to his character in War of the Worlds. If we were ever invaded by hostile aliens, I would do everything I could do to protect my family. My spirit animal could maybe be The Fly since I’ve been told I kinda look like Jeff Goldblum haha.
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?
Humanoid robots are definitely a foe. AI is advancing at an alarming rate and I don’t believe lives will improve, or the global human happiness level will increase just because we have super smart robots. It has less upside and more downside in my opinion. In regards to filmmaking, story is everything and I doubt the smartest robot could create a compelling story because it requires heart and understanding of concepts like love for example. I doubt a machine or robot will ever understand love no matter how advanced it becomes.
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?
Iron Giant, Wall-E, Optimus Prime and the liquid-metal T-1000 from T2 (he’s technically a toon)
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?
Though I’m generally satisfied with the way the film turned out, I would have definitely made a much less ambitious first film if I could do it all over again. It took a lot out of me and 3 years of much sacrifice. So when people say “keep your short film as short as possible” they mean it, and those are wise words. There’s very little benefit for making a longer short film. It’s more challenging to get into film festivals since they prefer films under 15 minutes, and there’s absolutely no way to make your money back on a high cost short film.
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?
Before I made the film, I wasn’t really part of a community per say, but definitely a big fan of sci-fi. After the film was completed, I was fortunate to meet a lot of great people in the sci-fi community at various film festivals around the world.
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 definitely an old school analog type guy. For example, I recently built a house with a smart home system, but sometimes it make things more complicated. I would rather just get up and turn the light switch off. I don’t really need a fancy system. I also love traditional film as opposed to digital. I’m planning to create a short 5 minute film within the next year that will be completely shot on film.
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?
Almost all of our practical set pieces were made from our concept art which was definitely inspired by the Star Wars universe. I always prefer a more beaten-down, lived-in kind of world as opposed to new and shiny.
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, Practical, Dystopia and post apocalypse are more interesting for storytelling.