New York Comic-Con wrapped up on October 7th and ended a crazy four days at the Javits Convention Center in NYC. My last press roundtable of that weekend was for the upcoming science fiction film Prospect, which stars Jay Duplass (Transparent), Pedro Pascal (Game Of Thrones), and Sophie Thatcher, who makes her feature-film debut here.
The film, which had its premiere in March at the SXSW Film Festival, was written and directed by Chris Caldwell and Zeek Earl, and is a feature-length version of their 2014 short. It will be released on November 2, 2018 in Regal theaters, which will be offering an exclusive art print by Christopher Shy, as well as an exclusive download of the film’s accompanying Playbill, Aurelac Prospecting: Guide To Getting Rich On The Green Moon, that delves into the film’s world-building.
At the roundtable, they handed out the aforementioned Playbill, which is a prospecting guide they made in conjunction with the film where they went so far as to craft a language and cartoon advertisements. The filmmakers also took pride in making a film about space travel where the characters leave their helmets on.
At the convention, I got to meet and talk with the writing/directing combo of Chris Caldwell and Zeek Earl along with the film’s teenage star Sophie Thatcher.
Geeks of Doom: This film is dialogue heavy and I feel it fits in with the new trend in science fiction of trusting the audience; itâ€™s a more cerebral film. Were you inspired by these more modern films, or the sci-fi classics?
Zeek Earl: Absolutely, I mean aesthetically it’s drawing a lot from the classics — Star Wars, Alien, Blade Runner — that type of aesthetic. But weâ€™re very excited and hope to be participating in this more intellectual science fiction. One of the things we were trying to do with this film was to capture that feeling of immersion where you donâ€™t hold the audience’s hand through the world and we donâ€™t put a lot of words in the characters’ mouth explaining whatâ€™s happening. We wanted that to be evident through the density of the details in the production design, where you pick up pieces and piece together that this is an interconnected alive world and weâ€™re just watching and observing this part of it. So if anything, yeah thatâ€™s one of the things we were trying to do, put the audience in over their heads and have them piece together what this world is comprised of.
Geeks of Doom: Sophie, the film starts and for 20+ minutes itâ€™s just you and Jay [Duplass] and youâ€™re cultivating this father/daughter dynamic, and then you have to shift and create this new one-on-one relationship with Ezra [Pedro Pascal] for the bulk of the film. What was that like for you to have to shift your character dynamic like that?
Sophie Thatcher: That was the hardest part I think, trying to gracefully portray her character arc. She obviously starts off more timid and as she grows and is forced to be with Ezra, she starts standing up for herself and speaking for herself. That was one of my favorite parts and reading the script, that was what drew me in. Just the complexity of her character arc.
Chris Caldwell & Zeek Earl: And significantly that was one of things we were able to shoot chronologically.
Sophie Thatcher: That helped. I remember leaving the set and feeling more confidence than I had.
Chris Caldwell & Zeek Earl: You got to go through that transition because you were getting to know Jay and then there was this passing of the guard which carried through to the rest of the production.
The filmmakers also mentioned that it could be difficult at times to make a complex independent sci-fi film with visual effects on â€œthe budget of one half of a Marvel fight scene.”
Prospect debuts in Regal Cinemas theaters on Friday, November 2, 2018, and it marks the first feature-length film distributed by Gunpowder & Skyâ€™s sci-fi label DUST. New York Comic-Con will return to the city next October.
A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich. They’ve secured a contract to harvest a large deposit of the elusive gems hidden in the depths of the moon’s toxic forest. But there are others roving the wilderness and the job quickly devolves into a fight to survive. Forced to contend not only with the forest’s other ruthless inhabitants, but with her own father’s greed-addled judgment, the girl finds she must carve her own path to escape.