Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hugh Sullivan on “The Infinite Man”

What was your filmmaking background before making The Infinite Man?

HUGH: I studied directing at film school, which provided me with the opportunity to make a few short films, and also to meet some great collaborators (Marden Dean, for example, was Director of Photography on both the film school shorts and The Infinite Man).

Where did the idea come from and what was the writing process like? 

HUGH: There were a few ideas and desires I had. I’ve always enjoyed time travel and wanted to try my hand at it. I also wanted to look at a relationship as experienced by a somewhat troubled mind – a mind plagued by insecurities and ruminative thought. Time travel allowed me to approach these things quite explicitly. And I knew that I would be working with quite a small budget, and this kind of story seemed ideally suited to that.

The writing process was one of constant revision. Due to the inherently complicated nature of time travel, even the smallest change to a scene would reverberate throughout the entire script, and necessitate many more changes. Repeatedly. In fact, the experience of writing The Infinite Man was not too dissimilar to the experiences of its main character, Dean: constant frustration, endless revision and many, many tears.

Can you talk about how you raised your budget and your financial plan for recouping your costs?

HUGH: The film was financed through the South Australian Film Corporation’s FilmLab initiative. This meant the financing was pretty much guaranteed from a 1-page idea – a very strange and beautiful position to find oneself in. We have released the film theatrically in Australia, with the US and hopefully other territories to come.

How did you go about casting the movie ... and did the script change much once you had your cast in place?

HUGH: The casting process was quite traditional. Fortunately the film contains just three actors, which kept things pretty simple. I was familiar with Josh, Hannah and Alex’s work, and keen for them to read for the parts. And as soon as I saw them I knew they would be perfect.

Things changed very little as a result of casting. One thing that did have an enormous influence on the script was the location. Settling on the abandoned motel as the primary location necessitated a considerable rewrite. But I think we all felt it was worthwhile. At the very least it provided us with a place to stay for the duration of the shoot.

What kind of camera did you use to shoot the movie -- and what did you love about it and hate about it?

HUGH: We were fortunate enough to get a very good deal on an Arri Alexa. Obviously it’s a great camera, and while I hate to give such a dull response, I really have no quibbles whatsoever.

Did the movie change much in the editing, and if so, in what ways?

HUGH: The movie changed very little in the edit. Things were shortened, and a few scenes were removed. But with a piece such as this, where everything must fit together both temporally and spatially, it was impossible to significantly reorder things without rendering the whole somewhat illogical or entirely incomprehensible.

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

HUGH: I’m not sure what the smartest thing was, and as for the dumbest, well, I’ll let the viewer decide.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you have taken to other projects?

HUGH: Get the script right, respect the schedule and wear comfortable shoes.

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