October 1, 2014

Time Lapse: Film Colossus wonders "what would happen if this were a thing…"

Two weeks ago we announce our Centerpiece Film would be Bradley King and BP Cooper’s Time Lapse, a film I cannot wait for you to see.  I was so excited to talk about the film I tried to pitch one of my favorite film jounrnalist, Chris Lambert over at FILM COLOSSUS on writing a story about it.  Problem was, he already had.  What’s great about the Film Colossus piece is that it doesn’t really dwell on the details of the plot (which of course we would never want to know ahead of time), but instead discusses why this simple SciFi of the mind is really far more effective than most modern big budget SciFi films playing the megacinema.  He said he would be happy for me to reprint his piece in our newsletter.  

"Time Lapse" and a discussion on what I think makes for great sci-fi by Chris Lambert

When I think of sci-fi, I think of the great "what would happen..." science fiction I read in high school.  An example of this is Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder".  Time travel exists.  There's a company that specializes in allowing people to go back in time and shoot a Tyrannosaurus Rex.  The company has these rules that keep the hunting from changing the future.  The key rule is:  stay on the path!  Of course, during one of the hunts, this guy steps off the path and crushes a butterfly.  When he returns to the future, things are sort of the same, but it is not the world he had left.  There are words he has never heard before, someone else is President of the country, etc.

This kind of speculative sci-fi imagines a situation or technology and asks "What would happen if this was a thing?"

So I see big budget sci-fi films like After Earth, or Oblivion, or Edge of Tomorrow, or Divergent, or Robocop...and I feel they are hollow films.  It's more of "How do I solve this plot crisis?" rather than "Let's explore this situation/technology."  Which doesn't mean they are bad, it just means they are a bit more shallow to me, more for entertainment than for thought. 


That was a huge problem I had with Edge of Tomorrow.  Edge got compared a lot to Groundhog Day which makes sense to me and is helpful since it is the exact comparison I want to use right now.  Groundhog Day is, in my opinion, successful sci-fi because it takes the premise of "What would happen if this guy was not only reliving the same day over and over but stuck in this one small town?"  We get to explore that situation and the choices the guy/Bill Murray makes, what direction he takes things.  The highs and lows.  Compare that to Edge.  Tom Cruise has to end a war against alien invaders.  So the situation of "Tom Cruise dies and comes back to the same day" is limited to him just trying to find a way to win the war.  There are no real choices, it's just:  train and get better and hopefully defeat the enemy.  Yeah, sure, Tom Cruise starts the movie as a sissy and over the course of events toughens up, but is that really an impressive character arc?  I don't think so.

Oblivion suffered in the same way, I think.  Tom Cruise has a fixed job he has to do, so he does it, then he has a single enemy to overthrow, so tries to overthrow that enemy.  But there is no "exploration" of this "what would happen if...."  We get a bit about his lifestyle, but it's so simplistic:  fix things, come home, sometimes bang his wife.  There isn't much of a world to explore, just the remnants of a world.  Then we're right into "plot crisis".

I love sci-fi but I'm pretty tired of big budget sci-fi films that are all plot crisis.  After Earth.  Oblivion.  Edge of Tomorrow.  Divergent.  Robocop.  I feel like those films aren't thought-provoking enough.  I don't watch them and think, "Oh goodness, what an interesting premise!  What would I do in that situation?"

Do we even count things like Transformers and Guardians of the Galaxy as sci-fi at this point?  I guess, in a way, but Guardians is more of a Space Opera, where as Transformers is spectacle with some theme thrown in.  I don't think most people would consider either Transformers or Guardians as "deep" films.

All of that is why I appreciated Time Lapse so much.  It is exactly the kind of sci-fi that I love.  A type of sci-fi film that seems, to me, more and more rare.

A dude creates a camera that takes a photo of the future and spits it out as a polaroid.  What happens?

Well.  A lot of f-cking things happen, which is fantastic.

Read the rest on FILM COLOSSUS→ 

Meet Courtney Hazlett - Programmer and 
Hospitality Director

Profile by DON ELFANT

Where are you from and what brought you to Austin?

I grew up in Dallas, specifically Oak Cliff. But the school I attended from 1st-12th grade was in the heart of downtown Dallas so I claim that too. I moved to Austin to attend The University of Texas—majored in Music (Piano) with a concentration in Electronic Music & Music for Film and minored in Radio, Television, Film. After graduation, I decided to stay in town because I honestly love this city!

You have a background in sound design, what has that been like?

I have always been attracted to sound, albeit my first adoration of sound in film was more musically inclined. My electronic music classes at UT inadvertently started my road towards cinematic sound design. We were given creative freedom in our class projects to record, manipulate, and create brand new sounds turning them into unique works of art. But I really fell in love with sound design as it relates to film when I took a "music for film" class in which we got to work with sound effects in connection with visual cues. The power in which sound affects a scene is overwhelming and I enjoy having a hand in that process. Sometimes sound design can appear tedious, e.g. precisely placing appropriately manipulated sounds of someone's footsteps, but I get lost in and take delight in those moments. 

What’s the 48 Hour Film Project and how have you been involved?

The 48 Hour Film Project is a crazy, semi-stressful, yet completely fun annual film competition. They are held all over the nation and are exactly what the title implies—a contest in which you only have two days to write, shoot, and edit a short film. I have participated in the 48HFP for the past few years and love it! I don't get any sleep during these weekends seeing that I wear multiple hats during production and I do all the editing/post. However, in the end, my team and I are proud of our accomplishment and find the sleeplessness is worth the memories!


What appeals to you most about science fiction?

I enjoy science fiction because it is a genre that utilizes ultimate imagination. It is a dive into unknown yet somehow familiar worlds. Plus, as a lover of sound, what a fun genre to work with! There truly are no limits when it comes to science fiction.

Did any particular film or TV show have an early influence on you?

Tim Burton and Danny Elfman are a couple of my greatest inspirations. My parents bought the VHS of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" when I was around 7 or 8 and watched it so many times the tape turned white. I love TNBC so much! The stop-motion animation fascinated me as a kid. And talk about the beautiful music and songs! We even named one of our dogs after Jack Skellington's dog Zer

Read the rest of Courtney’s profile →

Also on OtherWorldsAustin.com
It All Sounds Familiar: A Look at Sound in SciFi
The Curse of the Found Footage Gimmick
The SciFi TIMELINE: Part One
Blog by COURTNEY HAZLETT — "What if Darth Vadar's deep breath sound were replaced with a kitten purr? This is what made me realize why I have always loved science fiction. It places real power in the hands of off-screen talent."
Blog by DAN REPP — "The problem with the success of The Blair Witch Project is that it was a gimmick. It’s not about telling a story, it’s about challenging the audience to continue to watch.” 
Blog by BEARS FONTE — “Despite always looking to the future, SciFi has a long and detailed past.  While not comprehensive, I’ve tried to compile a list of the most important and influential works ...."
Inaugural OTHER WORLDS AUSTIN SciFi Film Festival
---------------December 4-6, 2014-----------------

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