Flying Lotus’ Coronus, The Terminator is a beautiful, ethereal meditation on death and the afterlife and your film’s quite-complicated narrative resonates with the gospel-infused track. How did the visual story evolve, did you closely collaborate with the producer?
It’s kind of difficult to remember exactly where the idea came from but I have bunch of pages of writing and notes that have phrases like “karmic bondsmen”, “bardo”, “executioner” and “flower death” underlined.
The concept was many different lose ideas and obsessions all coming together. I was really into the idea of purgatory as a reflection of the empty, in-between parts of our world – like under freeway overpasses or on empty buses. Inner-city terrain vague. Even though I hadn’t really spoken to Steve (Flying Lotus) until after I wrote it, I had him and his record in mind the whole time I was writing. I do remember at one point Laura Tunstall, my executive producer, relaying a wise note from Steve which read: “don’t be a pussy with it”.
The story unfolds in a mysterious way, did you follow a storyboard in detail or did some of the plot change throughout the production or edit?
It was fairly planned out from the beginning. I’m usually an obsessive story boarder but for this one I tried a new technique; Limiting myself to really tiny drawings. It kept things loose and creative but also pretty confusing.
The lighting plays a key part in creating the tone – it looks as though you focused on natural lighting coming through windows and doors. Was this the case?
Pat Scola, our DOP, is great at that. We tried to avoid as much artificial lighting as we could by carefully picking locations and by keeping everything motivated and practical. We wanted to keep our characters just at the edge of underexposed so they appear as silhouettes, too grief stricken to reflect the light.
What fps did you shoot on to get the melodic pace?
It was a mix. A lot at 48 and 30.
What were the main challenges of the production and how did you resolve them?
There were too many to count and remember. I tend to memory wipe after particularly intense productions. Bad things would happened and then Jordan, the producer, would come and whisper in my ear about all the beautiful, good things that were happening simultaneously.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Embrace the mystery.
See production stills in Related Content