Intrigued by the art of storytelling from an early age, Zach Ramelan grew up to be an award-winning director and accomplished editor from Ontario, Canada. Captivated with creating diverse narratives with powerful emotional connections, Zach has worked on hundreds of projects, including Blinders, a documentary that explored the impact of homelessness, and Dead Rush, a feature-length POV film that took home the Audience Choice Award from Canadian Film Fest. Zach’s other past works include a short narrative titled Companionship and winner of the Best Short Film award at the 48 Hour Film Competition, Lariat. Passionate about engaging the newest generation of audiences, Zach has not limited his experience to staying behind the camera. With an online community of over 90 thousand subscribers, he educates fellow creators on filmmaking and shares his newest creative visions. A strong believer in completion being the key to his success, his tips focus on how to complete projects and become a better storyteller. His current passion projects include publishing his first book The Unoriginal Guide to Originality and creating a science fiction feature film.
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?
I used to think that having an app filled with every job imaginable would make life way easier; that’s partially why we created Freelancer. But as we explored this world further, diving deeper into a feature-length concept, I realized that I’d prefer this to just stay on the screen and hopefully never happen haha.
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level?
Does baby Yoda count?
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’ve scratched the surface with AI-generated art, and it terrifies me just as much as it excites me. In our latest Sci-Fi Clementine, I recast one of our voice actors with an AI, which sadly works better. I think every new piece of technology is created with beautiful intention, but sadly, it’s human nature to EF it all up.
Who would be in your ultimate Sci-Fi crew?
Probably Michael Jordan and Bill Murray! But set it with a Lost in Translation meets Blade Runner backdrop.
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?
An animated film where every character is one of those stick figures you see on public signs. Think of the Emoji film but even worse. The main character is the slipping guy on *caution wet floor signs*, and his mission is to marry the love of his life, the women's washroom Icon. I couldn’t get past writing the first 25 seconds. Good ideas ignite when I go for walks, take a break, or listen to cinematic music.
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?
Balance is everything, so I like both. I like using current technology as inspiration and putting the “what if” lens over it. What if Uber was on steroids? What if Alexa controlled your entire house? What if the stick people on warning signs had personalities (maybe a bad example)?
When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you lo ok for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
I like taking existing technology and throwing it into a parallel universe where it’s slightly clunkier and most likely analog. Our universe is set on clean and perfect; I always want to break it down. Growing up, I could make anything an animated character by giving it a voice in my head. For example, with some sound effects from my mouth, a handful of fries and a bottle of coke could fight in an epic battle on my dinner table. I use the same approach with my films. Sound effects, motivation, and imagination can make anything a tool to tell a better story.
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. Practical and CGI together. Dystopia always. Post Apocalypse.