Eli Powers is a New York City based writer and director. In 2018, Powers released the award-winning short Holy Moses, starring and produced by Amanda Seyfried. It World Premiered at the Raindance Film Festival, followed by a North American Premiere at the 25th Austin Film Festival. In 2020 Powers released Fish, starring Greg Vrotsos, and won the New England Director Award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. In 2021, Powers teamed up with Seyfried once again for the horror proof-of-concept Skin & Bone, which had its NY Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival 2022. He is currently developing the feature length version of Holy Moses, as well as a semi-autobiographical serial killer drama.
Q & A
If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in?
Yeah. Sign me up. I wrote Holy Moses because it’s more-or-less a world I’d rather live in. Everything has a great mystical weight and there’s a sense that things are changing, people are coming into a greater understanding of themselves, and stepping into their power to combat forces of control bent on destroying them. My current reality doesn’t always carry that same gravitas. There’s dishes in the sink. I have to get a haircut. My feet hurt. You know how it goes.
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 Stalker because he’s moody, fashionable, capable, and spends an enormous amount of time laying down on waterlogged moss, ruminating about faith and whatever. I think we all need a Stalker to guide us through the abandoned chemical treatment plants of our lives, keep us from going mad, and help get us back home again.
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?
I know this sounds narrow-minded but I won’t support humanoid robots in any of their ventures. After watching the Animatrix again my official stance is: keep those creepy dudes away from me. They should be allowed to work in hospitals and do super complicated surgeries that hungover human doctors can’t hack, but that’s about it.
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?
Robocop, D.A.R.Y.L (that little robotic kid with lots of heart), the spaceship from Flight of the Navigator, Fox Mulder, Trinity, Sylvia Weis from In Time, Blood (the telepathic dog), and Frank the Donnie Darko bunny.
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas.
Killer Snowflake: we open with a New England weatherman named Niles Jelbaee in the midst of a full blown emotional breakdown. After his wife dies in a freak accident he loses his preternatural ability to predict the weather and his past comes back to haunt him. He starts having vivid flashbacks to his time in Vietnam: he used to fly F-4C Phantoms in a covert CIA cloud seeding operation. Him and his fellow pilots were called Rainmakers and their job was to Make Mud, Not War. They seeded the clouds with lead and silver iodides, targeting areas along the Ho Chi Minh Trail to cultivate and extend the monsoon season. Niles and the Rainmakers could seed storms with acidity levels high enough to burn holes the size of a silver dollars in a T-54 Soviet tank. Anyways, that’s all just the pre-title credit sequence. We cut to 20 years later and the story is told through the eyes of his daughter, Robyn, who discovers that her now deeply eccentric and reclusive father has been tampering with weather patterns with his powerful homemade equipment, unwittingly creating the (yeah, you guessed it): Killer Snowflake. Maybe it’s not a that bad.
Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community?
The only time I ever truly considered myself a part of the Sci-Fi community was during a screening we did at the Atlanta Film Festival where they programmed Holy Moses with a bunch of other truer, harder, spacier Sci-Fi shorts and it really re-contextualized the way I saw my own work. Then after I got up on stage for the Q&A and there was only one other filmmaker there named Maegan and now we follow each other on instagram, so it’s a small community but I think technically it’s still a community.
Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two?
When I moved to Brooklyn I started collecting VHS tapes mostly to be ironic because I figured it was just about the most hipster thing I could possibly do, but then somewhere along the line it stopped being a joke and now I have over three hundred tapes and multiple VCRs stacked on top of each other in case one breaks. I have the best (and definitely the worst) of the 90s and early 2000s. There’s something deeply comforting about having a finite amount of movies to choose from. You know that experience when you go to someones house and you have to sit there as they spend an hour scrolling through their streaming accounts with that stupid little apple TV remote? That’ll never happen at my apartment. You only have to decide between Gremlins 2 and Heat pt. 2 (I lost the first tape).
Where did you look for your inspiration for the setting of Holy Moses?
I drove across the country by myself one time and it was a really strange and isolating experience. I wanted it to be like some carefree On The Road beatnik ramble but it mostly ended up with me disassociating in the desert, standing next to my parked car on a lonely highway, staring at my unfamiliar hands. Somehow it took me three days to get through Texas. I think that’s where half the setting for Holy Moses comes from: not the literal actual State of Texas, but the fictional mythological one in my head that I had to escape from. At that time I was also listening to an audiobook from a Guantanamo Bay prisoner that had been partially redacted by the US Government so all of the sentences were chopped up and a big scary voice kept saying REDACTED really loudly each time it came to a forbidden section. That was probably the initial spark for the Clandestine Organization in Holy Moses: an all-powerful State that goes around blotting out something they don’t want us to know about. In the Holy Moses universe that just so happens to be Miracles.
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, Phillip K. Dick, Practical, Dystopia, Pre.