Spencer Drees is a filmmaker from Cincinnati, Ohio. His connection to filmmaking started when his father gifted him a video camera at 10 years old. Since then, his passion for creativity, world building, and storytelling has grown exponentially. High concept genre stories such as Horror, Sci-Fi, and Adventure have always been a strong influence on his filmmaking career. Spencer believes that knowledge in filmmaking is a never ending journey and continues to develop and hone his craft by working on films and television shows such as Black Panther, Love Victor, and The Walking Dead when he is not directing.
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, we’d love to live in Jack’s world. Any world where aliens exist and are known would be the best place to be. If we could buy a one-way ticket to any universe I think we would want to live within the Star Wars galaxy. It’d be so cool to just planet hop and explore as much as we could.
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?
I guess if you count it, Spider-Man would 100% be the Sci-Fi character I relate to the most. I feel like out of any character we definitely can relate on multiple levels. I mean just look at how cool he is when he throws on the suit. My spirit alien has to be Grogu. Always chilling and coming to the rescue when needed.
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?
Friend until they decide to go all Skynet on us, which would hopefully be never. We like to think of them as the humanoid robots from I, Robot. Before they turn murderous. We would 100% support them. Maybe they’ll have expanded ideas that we humans cannot even come close to thinking of.
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?
Oh definitely the Back to the Future DeLorean except as a Transformer. That counts right? I think we’d take a Xenomorph ad Predator as well. Definitely a Jedi, Obi-Wan seems like a fun time. Is it cheating if they use their force abilities? To round it out I think our final selection in the Sci-Fi Tune Squad draft would be Leela from Futurama. She’s hilarious, a badass woman, and a perfect character to fit the team.
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?
We don’t think there’s ever a bad idea that can’t be expanded on or broken down to make it a great idea. Sure, we’ve all had some bad ideas that we would never make into a film but the beauty of it is that you can always take pieces of those bad ideas and add them to something else. Sometimes you just have to rearrange and trash the bad parts; That’s definitely one way we get past the bad ones and find a spark. Tossing them onto a wall and seeing what sticks is the best method.
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?
Our brains are always in the future so I guess you could say we’re always isolating. It’s very freeing to always be thinking ahead on where humanity is going, the possibilities and pitfalls are endless. It gives way to creativity and that’s the best feeling. While we’re not a part of any one Sci-Fi community, we like to think we’re a part of all. Sci-Fi brings people together and helps our imaginations run wild. Taking you out of reality and into worlds we can only dream of...for now at least.
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 like to consider myself a tech junkie but in my films I like to use very little of it. There’s something magical about a world that’s super old school and analog. It also helps with plot holes that could be solved with tech so keeping it simple is the way I like to go. Star Wars has crazy tech, yet feels very old school. I think it’s the perfect balance in a film. Futuristic but very old and real. The current camera tech is fascinating and can help you achieve things way beyond what analogue is capable of. I enjoy using it but one day I just want to go back to the roots of cinema and make something that requires me to think outside of the box by using film and more standard methods.
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?
For me it’s all early Spielberg and Kubrick. I love the way their worlds feel so real and grounded yet have fantastical elements to them. I think the best worlds are created when you take something very real and put a unique spin on it. That’s what I focus on when prop making and world building. Look at the DeLorean in Back to the Future or all the blasters in Star Wars. They all take very real elements and twist them so they feel real yet fantastical.
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 for sure. Phillip K Dick, his books dive right into my niche of Sci-Fi. Practical, always when possible. There’s something unique about the rawness of it. Even if it doesn’t look 100%, it feels real because, well, it is. Post Apocalypse. There’s something unique about the human condition in those stories.