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!
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