Every once in a while we writers are fortunate to discover a story of determination and passion that inspires us, and reminds us of why we wanted to write about film.
For that reason is to bring experiences and stories such as the one behind the making of Shockwave Darkside 3D to the forefront so that they don’t go untold.
What better way to hear the stories and experience than through the personal reflections of writer-director Jay Weisman and producer Christian Arnold-Beutel and their own creative war that mirrors the last great war raging on the moon in their contribution to a grand genre.
We both stopped at the passport holder and kinda looked at each other. Shockwave Darkside at the time felt like it was wrapping up, but the possibility of a screening – let alone one requiring even a passport to put IN some sort of holder – seemed like an impossible stretch of the imagination for me. I’m more superstitious than she is, and so she let me blather on about jinxing the prospect, and patiently waited for my argument to run out of steam. She then smiled, plucked it from its little rotating stand, and handed it to the cashier without saying a word.
I started writing Shockwave Darkside just about ten years ago now. Well, tinkering at first more than writing. It was a few scribbles on the subway to and from work – a line here, a thought there that was slowly congealing for a spell. For a while I had no intention of making it – it was just something I was doing to exercise my writing muscles. But over time it just started to snowball as the characters and world started to come alive in a way that was both surprising and real. I was simply having too much fun, and I wanted more.
I saw the movie in my head; I saw the direction I could take it in and its potential. I inherited from my father a lifelong love of science fiction. I was brought up on the works of Rod Serling, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, and I wanted to do something that was a throwback to a more thoughtful and allegorical kind of sci-fi, yet update it somehow. I wanted to give it a relevance and a modern-day jolt that I thought could be both timely and exciting, and it all just kind of made sense.
As I sit here ruminating on the edge of our FrightFest European premiere, there is not one frame or one moment of Shockwave Darkside that isn’t jam-packed with memories for me. I hear a line of dialogue and I’m instantly transported to writing it on a Boston-bound train on a snowy night listening to the Batman Begins soundtrack. A reaction shot of one of our amazing actors and I can feel the underfoot crunch of our sandpit location in Harwich, Massachusetts, or remembering the best clam chowder I ever had right before we set the scene.
Shockwave Darkside has been such a big part of my life for so long that I can look at any digital set extension or VFX shot and remember the late-night conversations, the Skype calls or the countless notes being flung across the continents to all the people who worked so hard on them. With every note of our amazing score, I am lifted by the memory of hearing it for the first time, and relive the relief at the end of the long, hard journey that our composer Andreas Weidinger took to get it there.
When I watch the film I am catapulted through this crazy time-capsule of births and deaths, cross-country moves, hookups and break-ups, as well as everything in between. I am reminded of the first time I saw the location with my good friend and associate producer Jack Brown, or having a beer with Wayne Johnson our VFX coordinator after working with him through our computer screens for over two years. Or giving Rob Westerfield our armorer an extra long hug just before he went into chemo for a nasty bout of throat cancer (thankfully, he’s fine now). Endless conversations, Sunday morning strategy calls, head scratching bewilderment when things didn’t go according to plan, and surprised elation when they actually did… Some yelling, but moreover lots of laughter.
I wonder if this is true for any director… I kinda hope it is.
It’s been said that movies are the dreams of the people that made them, but I think they’re more than that. They’re tales of epic battles, heroes and villains, and friendships forged and found. At least to me, all the more worthy of a Marvel Comics passport holder.
See ya in London!
Tomorrow we continue the road to FrightFest with Shockwave Darkside producer Christian Arnold-Beutel.