The Collector was student produced at the USC School of Cinematic Arts in the Spring of 2020. I was one of three students selected from the most competitive director selection process at the school to direct an advanced narrative project at USC. Based on a shortlist of submitted scripts I decided to pitch The Collector. As a life long fan of science fiction I was drawn to the challenge of making a sci-fi film while in film school given the limited resources available to a student project while telling a compelling and complex story about one man’s past and present. Unfortunately due to the pandemic the school and most of the world shut down in March of 2020. At the time we had just finished principal photography on the film and with the shut down lost access to our post-production facilities. Our resilient crew pressed on and we did our best to finish our sound, vfx and color remotely. As a director I am honored to have been given the opportunity to make The Collector but my pride is reserved for the students at USC who persevered during a pandemic to make the best art they could in an uncertain world.
Q & A
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level?
Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced AI? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them.
Potentially both, if they start making films I’m guessing we will be at a stage of evolution where robots do everything and human labor is minimal so a win-win.
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?
Bugs - Point Guard Robby the Robot - Center Chewbacca - Power Forward Ellen Ripley - Shooting Guard Riddick - Small Forward
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?
There are no bad ideas, there are just ideas that aren't a good fit for the story you are trying to tell, they may in fact be good ideas for an entirely different story. To get past them, write them, see how they fit into your narrative and when they don’t fit with the other pieces move on.
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?
Absolutely consider myself part of a community, and yes it can be isolating at different stages but just as a film moves through different phases you will as well.
Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do you strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?
We all have to work with the tools we are given for the task at hand. As a result of that I, like most people, am leading a digital existence. Whether a disconnect exists or not depends on the use case for the technology you make films about, if the use case is one of harm then the distinction becomes stronger.
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 like to look at existing films and shows that have found creative solutions to similar problems and then take the list of objects or sets I need made with references and turn that over to the Production Designers who get to source the objects and design they feel fulfills those objectives. Once they come back with their ideas it is a collaborative process to figure out what ultimately ends up in the film. Creating objects that are relatable but unfamiliar is ingrained in that process but must fulfill the requirements of the story.