Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have created three of the best indie sci-fi films of recent years –resolution, springand The Endless. In her latest film Synchronousa medic, played by Anthony Mackie, discovers a designer drug that takes him back in time.
“We talked about, ‘What if there were a substance that made you experience time as Einstein described it?'” Benson says on episode 437 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “That means there is no difference between past, present and future, and actually everything happens at the same time, and time is more like a frozen river than a flowing river, and this substance – this drug – would allow you to have experiences.” do this.”
The film is imbued with moods and colors, much of which it draws from its New Orleans surroundings. According to Moorhead, it was important to set the film in a location that is instantly recognizable at various stages in its story.
“There’s just nothing quite like New Orleans,” he says. “It’s got this bizarre French and Spanish colonial history and it’s very American – jazz and civil rights. Just an enormous story that is very, very, very specific to New Orleans. It occupies that wonderful piece of real estate in the American psyche.”
Benson says time travel films tend to romanticize the past, focusing on manners and fashion rather than health care or social issues. “If you look at things like Back to the Future, it’s a fantastic film but it really shines in the 1950s,” he says. “It has been running through our media and our culture for a long time.”
Moorhead hopes so Synchronous will help combat that kind of knee-jerk nostalgia and give viewers a greater appreciation for the present. “It’s perfectly fine to sugarcoat or romanticize something about every single product,” he says. “It’s a choice. It’s not a moral failure of a single product. But what we wanted to do was explore the other side of it.”
Listen to the full interview with Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead on Episode 437 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (Above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Justin Benson on Indie Films:
“One day we’re going to have a movie that everyone knows the day it comes out because it has a $20 million marketing budget because that’s how you do it. But that’s also really scary because it needs to be really good should. It had better be great because that’s what the kids will be talking about at school on Monday. It’s actually kind of funny because as an indie filmmaker you get by a little bit because when it’s not impacting people are like, ‘Oh, that’s what happens with indie films.’ You’re only as good as your best movie in a way, and when things come and go, it doesn’t really hurt you. It just happens. But when there’s a lot of marketing behind a bad film, it’s an ominous prospect.”
Aaron Moorhead on Characters:
“Some of the most exciting times for us on set are when our characters are just talking to each other about something that isn’t specifically in the film’s logline, and you’ll be shocked at how infrequently that happens. And by the way, the things they talk about inform the later plot and inform their character and move the movie forward, it’s just that at that precise moment they’re not discussing what to do with a time travel pill. There’s a general wisdom in writing that if the dialogue doesn’t progress [the plot], then you can also cut it. But if you cut it, you get something soulless, and you don’t understand these people. Because you can only express yourself through action to a limited extent. Our primary means of expressing ourselves as human beings is how we communicate with others.”
Aaron Moorhead on the pandemic:
“We can probably attend a local demonstration [of Synchronic] here in LA where I think there are two or three drive-in theaters because we want to see what it looks like. But the funny thing about the drive-in experience is that there’s no way to be “personal.” Most of them don’t even allow you to stand on your car and address the audience or anything. So being there just means being in your own car and watching that movie you’ve seen a billion times. So this is the thing. We’ll go because it’s our premiere, but actually being in person at a drive-in theater has no function because there’s no personal aspect. There are no personal questions and answers.”
Aaron Moorhead on randonauts:
“[Random numbers] come from a computer, and it’s very complicated how they get to them, but you can still figure out how they derived that randomness. But there’s a way to get actual randomness, and that’s to measure quantum fields, because quantum fields are actually random. And so [randonauts] are able to take these measurements and actually get random numbers that really can’t be predicted in the future. They take those numbers and turn them into coordinates, and they go to those coordinates no matter how hard it is to get there, and in doing so they broke out of their deterministic tunnel because there’s no world where they would have done it went there if they hadn’t followed those numbers.”
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