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Marina Antunes [Interviews 10.02.20] Australia scifi adventure

Writer/director Seth Larney has always wanted to make films and he got his start deep in production, working on everything from visual effects to coordinator on projects as diverse as The Matrix Reloaded and The Lego Movie. His feature film debut came a few years ago when he directed Tombiruo but his sophomore effort is a passion project 15 years in the making.

Developed from his worries about the environment and inspired by genre films from decades past, 2067 stars Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Alpha) and Ryan Kwanten (“True Blood”) as two men living in a future where humanity has destroyed the earth. The last remnants live underground and breathe manufactured air but the population is dying off, in part due to side effects from breathing fake air.

When Smit-McPhee is recruited as the final hope for humanity, the two men find themselves tasked with the most difficult task in their lives, one that could break their friendship and any hope for the salvation of humanity.

Larney's solid concept is brought to life by great production design and solid performances from Smit-McPhee and Kwanten who share great chemistry.

We recently had an opportunity to speak with Larney about his new film which opens in theatres and is available on demand and digital on October 2. The transcript of our interview below is condensed and edited for clarity.

Quiet Earth: When did the idea for the film start to percolate?

Seth Larney: I first pitched the concept to my producer in 2005 and we started seriously working on the draft somewhere around 2010, but it really goes back to my childhood. Really. I've wanted to be a director since I was about five years old.

I grew up in the Bush, in the forest of Australia and my summers were full of discover, running around, swimming in lakes and rivers and, exploring caves. When I got older and moved out to the city, I had this terrible feeling of what if the future generations of children and grandchildren don't have the same opportunities that I had growing up as a kid? That just terrifies me.

I'm a big fan of genre films from the 70s and 80s that I watched growing up and that's really where that fusion came from for me. I love genre films. I love fun movies. I really believe that that it should be fun because they are for an audience, and they provide a sense of enjoy. I think that if you can infuse a film with a message underneath that isn't preachy, it can be a great platform for an important message. That's kind of like the ultimate goal for me

You've been working on the project for 15 years and things have not been getting any better in the world between then and now. Did you feel there was an urgency that you needed to get this out, like now?

Absolutely. I think the great irony to me is that when we started this idea a number of years ago, the concept of the film set so incredibly new. Like the concept of people walking around with masks and not being able to breathe the air... getting people across that idea early on in the process was a challenge because it felt really alien to some people. Ironically, and horrifically, now that we're releasing the movie in 2020, a lot of these concepts, are actually happening. It's scary to me that it wasn't obvious when we started making it. It's been a kind of strange process to see all these things come around while we've been working on the film.

Can you elaborate on how you developed the time travel concept because it's not immediately apparent in the beginning but as you watch the film, it becomes clearer to the point at the end that the concept is so clear you can't help but wonder how you didn't pick up on it at the beginning!

That's really cool. I really tried to reduce the concept down to the core of it.

It was really important to me that if we were gonna make a time travel science fiction movie, that the only reason that it is a time travel movie is because that is important to our story at its core. It's not just a story that takes place in the future, and we didn't just want to make a time travel movie. The story can only work through these mechanics and time travel. The revelation of the time travel kind of loops and what it means for the character as an audience moves through the film, the time travel kind of loops and twists challenging our perception of the thing, which is essentially, can we change things or can we not change things?

And it requires a sense of belief in order to overcome those obstacles. So the genre itself, by the very nature of it being a time travel movie, he's throwing the obstacles at the audience and at the protagonist. As he grows into this person that learns to make his own choices about what he believes rather than just to accept what comes, hopefully as an audience, we're doing that as well.

It's really cool that by the time you get to the end you really get it. We've gone through it with the protagonist and been challenged throughout and it's been growing in your mind so that hopefully when it's presented at the end, that final key is in the lock, turns and kind of puts all the pieces in place.

In terms of the development of the script, that was one of the most important aspects, apart from the actual story and the conflict and the drama, which to me is the most important part. We wanted to ensure that the time travel stuff is always growing out of character and not the other way around, and it's more motivated by what the character needs and wants. That was probably the biggest achievement and also the biggest challenge.

Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ryan Kwanten are fantastic together. How did they come to the project?

Once we knew that the script was sort of ready to finance, which was a big milestone on its own, we knew that we would ave a short amount of time to lock in the casting.

I love the two of them already. Ryan came on first. The real truth of it is that with actors, you have a profile of an actor that you think is kind of right for a particular role and Kodi and Ryan fit the bill for me in terms of the character that I was writing, incredibly well.

The dynamic is very very little brother growing up and becoming an adult under the thumb of this big brother. I just talked to them both about it. It's just a conversation I had with Ryan when we spoke for a couple of hours and he was talking about how he really loved that relationship. At the end of that conversation I told him that he was the guy for the role and that he should go and think about it but he told me right there that he was going to make the movie.

It was a very similar situation with Kodi. I had a conversation with Kodi that went on for like two hours and we just had this really beautiful moment where we connected on a metaphysical level, and we really believe in the same sorts of messages.

I started writing the movie when I was younger, almost like the age he's at now and now I'm older. I always really felt like this was my story but when he told me that this is the movie that his generation has been waiting to see, I had an epiphany realizing that the film didn't belong to me anymore. It now belongs to him and that it wasn't for me, it never was for me, it was written out of my mind. I had an opportunity to hand it over and have it be something to the next generation. That was the moment that I really knew that he was the only one that could play the role for sure.

The film looks fantastic. How did you come up with the look of the time travel device and also the visual language of the and production design of the movie, I love the stark difference between the underground world and the future, both of which tell a lot about the world the characters are inhabiting, develop?

I wanted the device to be this big industrial kind of thing that was really imposing. It's almost like a character in the film because it's the backdrop to a lot of the really intimate drama that happens in the film so I wanted it to be unique and have an imposing nature.

We had these incredible concept designers come on board and draw it for us and then our production designer Jacinta Leong who I've known for about 20 years, she's incredible, she put together an amazing team that somehow managed to actuate it and turn it into reality for us and it really feels like the centerpiece of the film in so many ways.

I wanted the audience to have this really big emotional impact of when the character lands in the future and in this world that looks nothing like where where he's come from.

He's never seen the sun before. He's never seen a tree before. There's so many things he's never experienced - like full oxygen - before. So we made these sort of subtle choices, like for instance, in the underground, there's no green anywhere in the production. It's just not there. There are no green lights, no green signs and there's no green fabric. It's just blue and red. It's just a subconscious kind of idea that gives it a really specific tone that I think the audience, hopefully doesn't cerebrally realize what you're doing, but probably that when you land in the other world, you have the emotional overload. You might not realize exactly what and how that happened, but we tried to make a lot of small choices that tied into those shifts so that you get that emotional impact from the change.

Recommended Release: 2067

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