Friday, April 20, 2018

Andrew Bowen talks The 716th

I am a huge fan of Andrew Bowen’s THE 716TH. A glorious science fiction short it is a calling card for Bowen’s talent as a filmmaker and actor (someone needs to give him a blockbuster to direct). The film follows Bowen’s pacifist doctor who steals a space shuttle and flies down to hostile planet to pick up survivors of a mission that has gone wrong. Things go from bad to worse and it all ends on a cliffhanger that will having to screaming at the screen demanding for more. I love the film a great deal and had more fun watching it then most of the recent Hollywood tent pole films.

When I finished the film I sent an email off to the person handling PR for the film to ask about doing an interview. Never mind that I only had one question to ask (will there be more) I had to get the answer to that question. Sadly I was informed that the press day was when I was going to be engaged so I asked if there was a way to send Mr Bowen some questions, and was told send them. What follows is Mr Bowen’s answers to my questions.

Yes I got the answer to my one question and then some. Hopefully the interview will make you curious enough to chase down THE 716TH when it plays in the INTO THE VOID block at Tribeca or where ever it lands after the festival.

For tickets and more information on THE  716TH go here.

A review of THE 716TH will run when the embargo lifts later tonight.

STEVE:I'm going to ask the most important question at the start- it’s the question that made me want to interview you- Will there be a feature version of THE 716th or perhaps a TV series? 

ANDREW: Well, let’s just say... all signs are pointing to yes.

 STEVE: Your last film was a drama and this film is an action epicWhat prompted your radical shift in genres?

ANDREWMy taste has evolved a lot over time. The sci-fi action genre has always been a huge love of mine but mounting one is just challenging (and usually very expensive). In 2016, I think I really got clarity that those "epic comedic adventures" were the kind of movies I wanted to make... So when the idea for The 716th came along, I knew I had to find a way to make it.

STEVE: I am in awe of your handling of the huge scale and epic nature of THE 716th. How did you learn to direct something so epic? Where did you learn to edit so amazingly?

ANDREW: Thank you so much. It was a lot of hard work. To get this project off the ground, I just had to do the work. Being on so many film and TV sets over the years as an actor, you pick up a lot. My brain is kind of like a sponge. I love learning and always loved the whole filmmaking process.  I think by the time I decided to make The 716th, I had asked so many questions, I had a solid foundation to work from. The editing was a total surprise, I didn't intend on editing the film. My friend Eric Won was set to do it.  I knew Final Cut enough to navigate it and just felt our time together would be better served if I made a first pass. When I showed Eric my cut, he loved it, so we just polished from there. 

STEVE: What kind of budget did you have and how long did production take?

ANDREW:I’ll leave that one to the Q&A... ðŸ˜‰. I’m pretty sure your readers would think it was a typo anyway. The whole project took about a year and a half to complete. My entire VFX department, led by supervisor Jon Alvord, consisted of basically three people so... circling back to your first question: let’s just say I look forward to working with an actual budget someday.  

STEVE: How did you cast the film? Did the cast already know each other or is the repartee a result of great acting?

ANDREW: John Asher was the only actor I knew. He's a very good friend and a phenomenal actor. I felt that in casting him, you'd get a natural shorthand that would really sell that Doc and Ash had a history with each other.  The rest of the actors I really just cast from my gut. I think the whole auditioning process is a bit unnatural so I met with the actors I thought were right (I wasn't looking at anyone who didn't have serious chops) and had them tell me how "they'd" approach the character. It's amazing how much you can get from that. You put actors in an environment where they feel trusted and they'll kill it for you.  The repartee just kind of happened organically. I was very lucky.

STEVE: Did you have any influences for the film?

ANDREW: Not specifically. I'm kind of a bastard child of the 80's and 90's.  The films of James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and John Hughes were kind of my film school growing up. J.J. Abrams is definitely an inspiration and I think Denis Villeneuve and Edgar Wright are firing on all cylinders right now! I just wanted to see where my instincts took me on this film. See if I could pull off something fun and cool. 

STEVE: If the film gets picked up and heads to the big screen/series, would you give it UP if you couldn't be the one making the next iteration?

ANDREW:Wow... What a question. With the amount of work and obstacles I had to overcome to get here... I think it would be really hard to walk away. 

STEVE: What are your favorite films?

ANDREW: What an epic question!!! Oh man, too many. So hard to answer that one... I mean Back to the Future, Aliens, Braveheart, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Shawshank Redemption would all be at the top of the list. Guardians of the Galaxy was awesome (all the MCU films for that matter, Kevin Feige is doing phenomenal things)... Sicario, American Beauty, Raising Arizona, Die Hard, Say Anything, The Lost Boys, Weird Science, The Princess Bride, Stand By Me... See I told you this would be hard. I'm just gonna stop now. (Point Break for the guilty pleasure win!!!)

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