Time Lapse – An Interview With Director Bradley King

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Writer/Director Bradley King is the man behind one of the most interesting Sci Fi movies of 2014, TIME LAPSE. Bradley self-funded, wrote and directed Time Lapse, which was his first foray into the world of feature film.

It was co-written with writer/producer B.P. Cooper and it went on to play in 75 film festivals around the world. In what is a truly unique take on the time travel genre, Time Lapse deals with themes of predestination, betrayal and  greed. You can check out the film here: http://www.timelapse-themovie.com/

We had the chance to speak to Bradley about his experience making Time Lapse, who his biggest influences are and what’s in store moving forward.

Time Lapse is your first feature film, how did you find the overall process having previously worked within the short film market?

I was pretty nervous about making a feature. It sounds silly now, but I honestly didn’t know if I’d survive! The longest shoot I’d done prior was probably 4 days, and Time Lapse was 27 days. It helped a lot that we had a few months of preproduction and rehearsal in the actual location. The crew was superb, and I think there’s something in the air on a feature – everyone tends to take it a little more seriously because the stakes are higher. There’s the possibility that what you’re working on could end up in theaters, and it lends an urgency that is often missing on shorts. Overall it was a great experience, and now that I’ve survived it I’m looking forward to doing it again.

It (Time Lapse) is such an interesting take on the time travel genre. What gave you the idea to tackle time displacement and predestination in such a distinctive way?

The original seed idea came from the co-writer BP Cooper. We were doing a lot of brainstorming at the time, specifically trying to come up with an interesting sci-fi idea that could be done on a low budget. He had seen the movie “Timeline” where they send a camera back in time, and from there he mused about having a device that was a camera and a time machine combined. I got excited about that, and then started to reach out for plot paradigms that might fit the conceit. It sounds a little mechanical to put it that way, but we knew exactly how much money we could spend and that creative limitation became part of the seminal energy of the thing, so whatever other inspiration we found had to fit within that form.

The tried-and-true plot of “a group of friends discover something valuable and it tears their relationships apart” seemed to fit perfectly, and I’m a big fan of movies like Shallow Grave and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, so very quickly the story tumbled from there. I’m also someone who is guilty of obsessing about the future a lot and letting it ruin my present moment, so that became a big part of the theme that got explored.

You co-wrote Time Lapse with BP Cooper, something you haven’t done for any of your previous work. How did you find the process of collaborating?

It was a pretty natural turn; Cooper has given notes on my screenplays for years, and we have a lot of similar interests, so I think that helped the collaboration flow pretty easily. I’ve had writing partners before (on unproduced screenplays) and every creative relationship is different. I’d say this one was defined by the speed of it – somehow we managed to outline and write the thing in 3 weeks or so. There were rewrites and notes of course but it was exciting to be able to write that fast with someone. I’m not sure we’ll be able to ever repeat that, but it proved that our styles of working are compatible and I’m sure we’ll do more together in the future.

The cast performance in Time Lapse is very strong, how was the experience on set working with such a talented bunch of actors?

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Danielle-Panabaker, Matt-OLeary and George Finn had stand out performances in Time Lapse

My experience working with the cast was pretty dreamy, honestly. At such a small budget level, I really wasn’t expecting to get people of the calibre that we did. It helped immensely of course that early on veteran casting director Rick Montgomery took an interest in the project. He opened doors that Cooper and I probably would have spent years clawing at fruitlessly. Once the script started getting in the hands of people it had a good reaction. I’d specifically been keen to work with Danielle after I saw her in “Girls Against Boys”, so that was a huge get. The others fell into place one by one, and by the end I was really excited by the people bringing our words and actions to life on the screen.

I’d say the biggest lesson was figuring out how to accommodate everyone’s varying styles of rehearsal and performance. Some like rehearsal, some don’t. Some give a better performance on the first take, and some give their best on the fifth or sixth. Editing allows one a certain amount of freedom and safety of course, but in the moment there’s a juggling act that’s pretty vital to getting the best material possible, and I burned some calories on that every day for sure.

We at Warped Footage enjoyed Time Lapse immensely, what surprised you most while working on it? What did you learn from the experience and is there anything you would do differently?

This is a pretty general answer, but I was most surprised by the level of production value and quality of material that can be created on a low budget. Once a crew of compatible and excited people get together to do something, watch out. Nobody was getting paid very much, some people worked for free or allowed me to cash in favours, but the overall vibe was one of caring and excitement about the material we were generating. I think that translated into the project turning into a sum greater than its parts. Not to pat the producers on the back too hard, but we’re a few years out from production now and I still have people telling me Time Lapse was the happiest set they’ve ever been on. I think that translated into everyone putting in a little extra effort here and there, which really adds up on the screen over time.

If I had to give advice to anyone getting ready to make a first feature – well, my first note would be write and rewrite and rewrite until you can’t find any more problems in your script. But my second note would be to really work hard to assemble a group of people that actually like the material and are excited to be there, and then feed them well, don’t work them too long of hours, and listen to their ideas. That army of artists is what’s going to make your movie great.

In terms of anything I’d do differently – that goes back to my first note. Although I’m proud of the script, looking at the amount of material on the cutting room floor, I think we could have tightened the script a bit more before getting the train going. I realize there’s always going to be deleted scenes, but if I could scoop the money and the man-hours spent shooting things we didn’t use, and then pour it back into the scenes that we did use, I’d love to see what that looks like. Then again, if we hadn’t moved so quickly perhaps something else wouldn’t have worked out right. I guess my final answer is that if I could change anything, I’d make it so that I actually had a camera that sees the future so I could have made all the right choices!

Most of your projects can be classed as Sci Fi/Fantasy, is there any other genre that you would be interested in tackling in the future?

While most of my scripts are sci-fi or fantasy related, I do like straight crime thrillers as well as non-fantasy action/adventure movies. I definitely hope to be able to branch out a bit, but I also know that if somehow I got pigeon-holed permanently into doing science fiction for the rest of my career, I’d be fine with that.

You are very much a hands on filmmaker, writing and directing most of the projects that you develop. Which one gives you most satisfaction?

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‘fording a river of piss and broken glass with a full garbage can on your back’

Hm, “satisfaction” is a hard thing for me to calculate. In terms of pleasure, I can safely say that directing is more fun and comes more easily to me. I have a background in visual arts, graphic design and photography, so anything related to colour, shape, framing, etc. is like a playground for me that I feel safe and confident about. Writing on the other hand is terrifying by contrast. To mangle and misappropriate a Charles Bukowski phrase, for me writing is like ‘fording a river of piss and broken glass with a full garbage can on your back’. Admittedly there are really satisfying moments of inspiration where things fall into place and you get excited and it all feels worth it, but the rest of the time it’s a nightmare.

Also when directing, there is an inevitability – the movie is going to get done one way or another. The train is in motion, there’s too many people and too much accountability happening for it to fall apart. Writing on the other hand is isolative, murky, drawn-out, and often I get the feeling of sincere doubt that at the end I’ll even have anything worth a damn. This probably partially comes from the felt experience of spending thousands and thousands of hours in my 20s writing screenplays that have never seen the light of day, but even now as a fairly confident writer I find it a terrible struggle. However, without a script the director in me doesn’t have anything to do, so fording the river is necessary.

In 2011 you directed ‘Dear John’ which was written by Devon Goodman. How did you find the process of directing a feature that someone else had written?

‘Dear John’ was a short, and it’s the only thing I’ve directed that I didn’t write. I’m not at all opposed to directing a feature that someone else has written, however thus far nobody has put a script in front of me that I connect to as well as my own writing. It’s probably clear given my answer to the previous question that I would be pretty ecstatic if I could just skip the writing nightmare altogether and bounce right into the directing playground. Like any artist though I’m particular about what kind of material and characters resonate with me, and I accept the possibility that I could be doomed to never finding that in another writer’s work. Fingers crossed, though.

Who are your biggest artist influences both from a cinematic point of view and beyond?

At any given moment my influences seem to be in flux. I read a lot, and lately Tom Robbins and Haruki Murakami have a hold on me. I grew up reading a lot of comic books and playing D&D, as well as reading Tolkien. In terms of cinema influences, some that are hard-wired at this point are Hitchcock and Kubrick. I’m a child of the 80s so early Gilliam, Coppola, Spielberg, Lucas and Scorsese are undeniably a part of my work. Recently, “In Bruges” is probably my favourite movie and McDonagh’s plays are something I read regularly. Edgar Wright, Wes Anderson, and the Coen Brothers continue to delight me.

What’s next for Bradley King?

I’m going to give a boring answer here, because I don’t like to talk much about what I’m gestating. More than once I’ve opened the petri dish to scrutiny a little too early and it killed the stuff growing inside. I will say there’s two scripts I’m working on, a horror project and another sci-fi story. We’ll see which one reaches critical mass first.

Huge thanks to Bradley King for taking the time to talk to us. Please check him out on social media:

Follow Bradley on Twitter: @bradleydeanking

Time Lapse on Twitter: @TimeLapse_Movie

Time Lapse on FB: TimeLapseTheMovie

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