Running On Empty interview

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail 5

Firstly, well done on an intriguing, original piece. Sci-fi can often be a genre full of tired and clichéd concepts, so you did well to avoid this. Where did the idea come from?

We had ideas floating around but nothing could be set in stone until the challenge started and were told what prop to use, the title that selected at random for us and a line of dialogue we had to fit into the film. We all liked the concept of Avatars as it’s popular within Sci-fi. This meant we could do something that was story driven while focusing on the drama element rather than something visual effects driven. On a train journey we saw an advert for a real company that would design a digital avatar of you so that when you died your loved ones could still be in contact with an avatar version of you – this is something that stayed with us and definitely helped inspire Running on Empty. We believe films like Start Trek are so successful because, while they are obviously Sci-fi, the audience are interested in the characters, the people, their lives and what motives them. People are interested in people and that is something that will never change. We wanted to do a Sci-fi film that would forge a connection with our audience and that’s where the idea of the ‘future of dating’ came from. Thinking about it, the way things are going with technology and how people are now communicating, this could actually happen in the near future – which is a quite scary thought!

Following on from that question, how much of the story was based upon personal experiences and would you take the same actions as your protagonist?

Ha-ha, who wouldn’t want to create their own version of an extremely attractive partner! To be honest it’s not based on anyone’s personal experience, as relationships are such a broad subject and often quite personal depending on who that relationship is with. Everyone knows that there are positives and negatives to every relationship – which is what made Running on Empty such a relatable film. We personally know people who go through their lives unable to go out and meet new people as they’re so busy with their jobs so turn to online dating as an alternative. Social networking is now such a huge part of our lives it seems this is the way future generations could easily meet people.

I gather that the film was made in 48 hours: how was that experience for you all and what would you say were the most challenging aspects of the production?

We’ve always wanted to do a 48 hour film challenge and it seemed to fit perfectly doing the London Sci-fi this year. It was an incredible experience and it just goes to show what you can create with a great team while under pressure. We filmed for 18 hours straight, and then worked through the night on the editing, grading, composing and sound design. We were up for 44 hours straight with no sleep at all and even then we only grabbed a few hours before handing in the film. But the one thing we will remember as the most challenging moment was rendering the film. It was toward the very end, ourselves, Johnny and Matt were like zombies waiting for the DVD to export. It seemed to take forever! And when it was finally completed we had to make sure it was perfect – so we had to be focused all the time. Another challenge was the location, at the very last minute we lost our original location, which is where we were planning on shooting the entire film. So we ended up using our own house to shoot the film. We wanted an office scene in the film but didn’t have an office space we could use nearby. Our production designer, Paul Pattison, created an office from scratch in the warehouse next to our house with anything he could find… and it was incredible what he came up with.

The story works well as a short, contained piece and you did a great job of conveying a passage of time. Was this something which you put quite a bit of thought and effort into?

Thanks, again it was an extremely short, quick process so we didn’t have a lot of time to work on the script and consequently the shoot was very challenging. It took a lot of organisation to make sure we got every daytime shot done before the sun set and then shoot the evening or interior shots that could be lit by our gaffer and DOP later. The continuity of the characters and what they were wearing had to be spot on and thankfully, although a little delirious at times after shooting for so many hours, we managed it with a combined effort.

How do you find working on short films in general? Were any aspects of the format particularly challenging or frustrating for Running on Empty or the opposite?

I think short films are calling cards for filmmakers, especially for a new production company and Directors like us. Having the knowledge to create a high quality film that is made on an extremely low budget is a really good way to learn your craft and develop the mind-set that you don’t need to spend millions of pounds to make a good film – it’s all about the story for us. To be honest, the whole 48 hours were exhilarating from start to finish. We enjoyed it so much that we could have done another film straight away if we had to. We were grateful to have such a talented team around us who shared our passion for the film. We personally thought that it was going to be extremely challenging for the actors as there were such a wide range of emotions for them to go through in such a short space of time. Working with them to observe what makes them laugh or cry for example gave us a better understanding of them as people and what makes them tick as an actor. This is particularly important for us as directors.

I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi films which don’t go over the top in their attempts to establish a futuristic setting. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Children of Men are two such good examples, and Running on Empty has slight overtones of these films in my opinion. What are your thoughts on this?

Our first thought on writing a script is what will make a great story. And then add a different element to that story whether it be Sci-fi, horror, thriller etc. We’ve never made a Sci-fi before so it was a new challenge for us. We wanted to keep our “style” of film making but have Sci-fi elements which we believe worked well for us. We wanted to make this film as if it was happening today rather than years into the future and potentially distancing the audience from the world we wanted to create. We always find it funny when people compare or relate our short films to other movies that we haven’t seen before (this always annoys a certain Actor/Producer we work with, haha). We will definitely put Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Children of Men on the list of films to watch!

Has anything come of the film – have any opportunities arisen – and what are your filmmaking plans going forward?

The film is still on the festival circuit and we are currently in talks with a studio regarding developing it into a feature length film. At the moment, we are collaborating with Camelot Films on a number of feature films and will have at least one of these projects filming by the end of the year. It’s been an exciting nine months working with Matt Hookings and Johnny Sachon from Camelot Films and we hope to continue to make many more films with them in the years to come.

You can watch the short here.

If you like the short and would like to help out Camelot Films on their next film, you can back their Kickstarter now.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.