Volition – Interview with Tony Smith and Ryan Smith

Tony Dean Smith (Co-Writer/Director/Co-Producer) & Ryan W. Smith (Co-Writer/Producer) join SciFiChick.com today to talk about their new film Volition!

Where did the idea come for the script?

TONY: The original kernel was something I stumbled upon in film school. I became convinced that IF clairvoyance was real and that they could see “ahead”, then it must pre-suppose that “ahead” had already happened. The story wasn’t fleshed out yet, and certainly didn’t have the character, plot or themes of Volition, but it did explore the relationship between perception and time. I almost made a short version many times, but I’m thankful that Ryan and I got our greasy paws on the material and turned it into Volition.

What was the process for co-writing?

RYAN: We’re lucky as brothers to have a lot of shared experience, so the process of writing together is very smooth. That said, we also sometimes see things from different perspectives, so we’re always pushing one another to stretch and improve. Generally, we’ll brainstorm and outline together for a long time, until we feel we have a good handle on the beats of the story. At that point, we’ll divide the outline in the middle, and each take a half to write in script form. Often new discoveries will happen for each of us in that process. Once those half-drafts are written, we’ll trade sides and each re-write the other person’s work. We repeat this over and over until we have a cohesive piece that feels like it represents us both.

What are some of the themes of the film?

TONY: At its core, Volition is ultimately about becoming unstuck. It’s about finding the courage and clarity to do what’s right, even in the face of insurmountable odds. Most of us believe something about ourselves and becomes paralyzed in that fixed idea of who we are. We feel like we’ll never write the novel, never get in great shape, etc. To overcome the feeling and fear of change, this film shows us that our perception is our primary prison – and to break free – we must do the opposite of what brought us here…

What do you hope viewers will take away?

RYAN: We hope viewers will be gripped by the film’s cerebral puzzle, but also leave emotionally charged and moved.

Would you want the ability to see the future?

TONY: I already knew you’d ask that, so… 🙂 My own personal experiences with dreams/meditation/clairvoyance have certainly shaped my worldview, enough to make a movie out of it. The human brain is almost like a quantum computer, and I’m quite sure we’re just at the beginning of understanding our place in this incredibly creative universe. Would I truly want to know the future? No. The present is where the fun is. 🙂

RYAN: Good question! Personally, I would not want that ability. It’s hard enough without clairvoyance to keep myself present in any given moment. I think if I knew how my future would turn out, I’d really struggle against apathy. I feel for our character, James. His predicament would not be easy.

What were some of your favorite moments on the set?

TONY: I think what I take away most is the incredibly passionate and family-like atmosphere we had. Movies are fun and even though we had a brutal schedule (with a near-impossible script to shoot), my favourite memory is the in-between moments with the cast and crew. The laughing, the crying, the bleary-eyed, but always smiling faces as we moved into longer and longer shooting days. 🙂

RYAN: A lot of the film was shot at night, so half of the time the cast and crew were in some level of delirium. It’s fitting, given the time-bender that is this film, that much of the shoot involved a sense that days were blending into nights, that our perception of time was off-kilter. I remember pretty much every cast and crew member, at some point, finding a nook or cranny to take a nap in.

What are some of your favorite movies or stories?

TONY: Far too many to list, but I always care and am moved by people doing the good thing. So for me, anything with a redemptive arc is what I love. As far a favorite story… go find Stephen King’s “The End of The Whole Mess.” It’s a short, but it says everything about what I want to do as a filmmaker. It has scope, epic ideas… and very grounded, flawed characters. Brilliant story.

RYAN: Children of Men is high on my list, and we thought about that film early on, for the look and feel of Volition. We both love the grounded nature of the sci-fi elements at play. Also, it’s more than just a “what if” cerebral exercise, it’s filled with complex characters that tug at your heart.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

TONY: We’d love to keep the conversation going! Ryan and I are always around on social media etc, so we’re hoping to connect with other fans, filmmakers and sci-fi lovers. We’re also excited to slowly tease what’s next for us, as we transition into making that a reality.

RYAN: We’d love to hear from anyone who checks out the film. There is lots to debate in the ending and throughout. We encourage your readers to find @volition_movie on Twitter. Tony’s at @tonydeansmith and I’m at @ryanwarrensmith. We’re excited to connect!

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ABOUT VOLITION:
AVAILABLE APPLE TV, PRIME VIDEO & OTHER DIGITAL PLATFORMS: July 10, 2020

DIRECTOR: Tony Dean Smith
WRITERS: Tony Dean Smith & Ryan W. Smith
CAST: Adrian Glynn McMorran, Magda Apanowicz, John Cassini, Frank Cassini, Aleks Paunovic, Bill Marchant

SYNOPSIS: In this time-bending cerebral science-fiction thriller, a man afflicted with clairvoyance tries to change his fate when a series of events leads to a vision of his own imminent murder. Awarded as BEST FEATURE at the Philip K. Dick Film Festival, among a slew of other awards and critical acclaim, VOLITION is a tightly-wound puzzle of a ride.

RUN TIME: 92 Minutes
RATING: Not Rated
GENRE: Science-Fiction Thriller
DISTRIBUTOR: Giant Pictures
YOUTUBE TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZQaf-2ZlmA

Race to the Sun – Book Review

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Synopsis:
Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he’s Mr. Charles, her dad’s new boss at the oil and gas company, and he’s alarmingly interested in Nizhoni and her brother, Mac, their Navajo heritage, and the legend of the Hero Twins. Nizhoni knows he’s a threat, but her father won’t believe her.

When Dad disappears the next day, leaving behind a message that says “Run!”, the siblings and Nizhoni’s best friend, Davery, are thrust into a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People, all disguised as quirky characters. Their aid will come at a price: the kids must pass a series of trials in which it seems like nature itself is out to kill them. If Nizhoni, Mac, and Davery can reach the House of the Sun, they will be outfitted with what they need to defeat the ancient monsters Mr. Charles has unleashed. But it will take more than weapons for Nizhoni to become the hero she was destined to be . . .

Review:
Nizhoni can see monsters, but otherwise she is smart and loyal girl. She and her friend Davery are likable and relatable. Their journey into Navajo lore is exciting, perilous, and magical.

Race to the Sun is a fun, middle reader fantasy. Fans of Percy Jackson will enjoy this standalone story with fascinating Native American folklore. I only wish the villains would have been fleshed out a little more. But the journey Nizhoni follows is perilous and engaging. With plenty of adventure, suspense, and humor – this fast-paced story was a joy to read.

Received in June

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

Blu-Ray/DVD:
Pennyworth – The Complete First Season
Head of the Class – The Complete First Season

Atria:
The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter

CamCat Books:
So You Had To Build A Time Machine by Jason Offutt

Disney Hyperion / Marvel:
Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Captain Marvel: Beware the Flerken! by Calliope Glass
The Mirror Broken Wish by Julie C. Dao
The Unstoppable Wasp: Built On Hope by Sam Maggs

Harper Voyager:
Alien Secrets by Ian Douglas

Saga Press:
The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell

Simon Pulse:
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Subterranean Press:
Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale
Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir

The Kingdom of Liars – Book Giveaway!

Courtesy of Saga Press, I have a copy of The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 17. I’ll draw a name on July 18, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreThe Kingdom of Liars – Book Giveaway!

The Challenger – Book Review

The Challenger by Taran Matharu

Synopsis:
Cade Carter and his friends have survived the qualifying round of the mysterious overlords’ twisted games, decimated by the loss of so many of their comrades during the fight. But they have no time to mourn, for the next round of trials is about to begin.

When the group discovers that their next foe will be even more ferocious than the last, Cade leads them on a quest out into their strange new world to find anything that might give them an edge. But what they find in the wilds could prove to be even more dangerous than the impending battle…

Review:
Cade has survived the first round in what he now knows is an intergalactic contest. If they lose this next round, all of humanity could be at risk. But Cade and his other surviving friends are only teens with no real fighting experience.

The Challenger is the second book in the Contender series. It has a bit of a Hunger Games feel. Cade and his friends are fighting for their lives, just to compete later for all of Earth. The planet they are on is full of humans and animals from throughout history and beyond. Full of intense suspense, this thriller is hard to put down. But the characters and subplot are engaging as well. It’s often dark and violent, but Cade and his friends give the story plenty of heart and a bit of romance as well. I look forward to the next in this fast-paced, exciting series.

Shuri – Book Review

Shuri: A Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone

Synopsis:
An original, upper-middle-grade series starring the break-out character from the Black Panther comics and films: T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri! Crafted by New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone. Shuri is a skilled martial artist, a genius, and a master of science and technology. But, she’s also a teenager. And a princess. This story follows Shuri as she sets out on a quest to save her homeland of Wakanda.

For centuries, the Chieftain of Wakanda (the Black Panther) has gained his powers through the juices of the Heart-Shaped Herb. Much like Vibranium, the Heart-Shaped Herb is essential to the survival and prosperity of Wakanda. But something is wrong. The plants are dying. No matter what the people of Wakanda do, they can’t save them. And their supply is running short. It’s up to Shuri to travel from Wakanda in order to discover what is killing the Herb, and how she can save it, in the first volume of this all-new, original adventure.

Review:
I was a big fan of Shuri, after watching the Black Panther movie. She’s genius-level smart and an inspiring young woman. This story follows the comics more than the film, but that’s a good thing when a favorite, classic X-Men character makes an appearance. And several other characters and timelines differ.

Shuri and her friend travel across continents to discover the cause and cure for the dying Herb. There are several fun characters, some new (to me) and some familiar. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced adventure with plenty of suspense, mystery, and drama. I hope this series continues, and we get to see more of Shuri’s technical prowess as well.

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