Acclaimed writer-director Tim Smit explodes on to the scene with his futuristic, VFX-heavy feature debut!
KILL SWITCH releasing this June 16th, charts the story of a pilot battling to save his family and the planet, based on Smit’s short What’s In The Box? Set in a future version of the world, the video game style plot follows an experiment for unlimited energy, harnessing parallel universes, which goes wrong. Chased by drones and soldiers, pilot and physicist Will Porter must race through an imploding world to get the Redivider box to a tower, which will save humanity, including his family, in the real world.
We had an opportunity to chat with Tim, here are the excerpts:
- This was a wonderful short, and now a wonderful movie. What inspired you to come up with this amazing & "almost crazy" concept?
Thank you! The main inspiration came from the desire to make homage to the first person shooter game, wrapped in a sci-fi story. The goal was to make this sci-fi story take place in Amsterdam, to provide a not so common combination of elements, such as cool visuals against the typical Dutch streets. So based on these preliminary ideas, I began developing the short and started to figure out how I could do this with no budget and no professional actors. This caused me to delve into the wondrous world of digital effects, allowing me to create some form of production value without the costs that are usually associated with such a production. The feature was actually set up very similar to the short, meaning a low-budget approach with me doing the majority (if not all) of the VFX.
- The film is wonderfully cast. How was the casting for this project?
Casting was new for me, and actually the process is not that easy. There are so many talented actors and I wanted to make sure we assembled a cast that was comfortable working with a POV movie project, as well as a lot of VFX. I met Dan Stevens through my casting director in London. We hit it off talking about science and film. He is very intelligent and loves sci-fi. For the role of Abby I needed an actress that could portray the beautiful, yet darker role, alongside Dan. Berenice Marlohe was an interesting choice for this. Part of the cast is also Dutch, which was a gamble being an international project, but we really lucked out with Tygo Gernardt. An amazing actor, and wonderful human being.
- You have a strong background in VFX. How did that help in making this film?
My VFX background is primarily the result of my background in physics. My love for science sparked my creative brain to develop a sci-fi project, while also sparking my technical side to develop and learn VFX. Without the knowledge in science, I would have had a harder time figuring out how to create the VFX necessary for Kill Switch. I worked on other films as a VFX artist and supervisor in order to develop the skills I needed for Kill Switch. Without this prior knowledge, we could have never made the movie for the low-budget that we had.
- What do you think about future of storytelling in terms of VFX, VR, AR and interactive storytelling?
I believe we find ourselves on the brink of a new medium of storytelling. The advances that are currently being made in the fields of VR and AR are mind-blowing. Projects like the HTC VIVE, OCULUS, PSVR, Magic Leap etc. show the enormous potential of the things to come. I am certain movies will find a unique place in that new future. We will probably see a division between a passive experience like watching a movie in VR, or an active experience by bridging the gap between movies and video games. It depends on what the viewer is interested in at any given point. I would certainly want to be involved in creating content if there is a cool story to be told that lends itself for these new formats. Imagine watching a story on fold right within your own room, and suddenly the room transforms into a digital/virtual world placing you literally in the story...The possibilities are going to be endless. The thing that will determine this success though, is features of the (wearable) VR/AR device (size, capabilities, price etc.) and finding the right form to tell the story with (finding the right balance between whether something should be a game or a movie experience. Active vs. Passive).
- What was the most challenging part as a first time filmmaker? What's your message to other first time filmmakers?
The most challenging part for me was knowing when to compromise or stick to your guns. Making a film is a group effort, even if you end up doing most of the work. So make sure you know how to talk to your crew and where maintain your vision and where not. Also sometimes, especially while filming, it is very difficult to judge when something is correct or not. You can be under a lot of pressure, and things might seem different from that perspective. So you really need to plan everything you can in advance, particularly when you are a first time filmmaker. Another tip I would give; it is said that 50% of the directing job is casting. This is very true. Lastly, don't give up! You will get knocked down a couple of times, and will face difficult obstacles. But if you love your project, don't give up. You will get there!
Directed by: Tim Smit
Written by: Omid Nooshin and C. Kindinger
Cast: Dan Stevens, Bérénice Marlohe, Tygo Gernandt, Charity Wakefield
Distributor: Saban Films, Lionsgate
Release Date: Available on Ultra VOD May 19th, in select theaters and On Demand June 16th
Running Time: 91 minutes