Short Film Inspires Big Questions
We speak to Aussie filmmaker Scott Mannion about Anima, a soon-to-shoot sci-fi short starring Samuel Johnson, which is being funded via Kickstarter.
"What is reality? How do we perceive it? What is the nature of the universe and our place in it? These questions are very interesting to me, and are what drives most science and scientists." That's director Scott Mannion talking to us about the line of thinking which inspired his soon-to-shoot scientific short film Anima.
A blend of drama and the surreal, Mannion describes Anima as "a man's journey of rebirth as he tries to escape his addiction to technology and reconnect with his humanity and the natural world. Anyone who has ever thought technology is taking over our lives will enjoy this film, as will those who like sci-fi."
Mannion was compelled to craft a unique science fiction film which explores the possibility that there is something "going on outside of what our senses can perceive." With a handful of impressive films influencing the director, he asserts, "You don't need proton cannons and phasers to have an interesting and entertaining science fiction. Films like Primer, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Donnie Darko prove that."
Having directed just the one short film previously (The Firebird), Mannion had the luxury this time around of casting the excellent and well known Australian actor, Samuel Johnson, in the lead role. Best known for his roles in such popular television series such as Rush, Underbelly and The Secret Life Of Us, Johnson has also headlined a number of local films including Crackerjack and The Illustrated Family Doctor.
Mannion says Johnson was his first choice and was thrilled that the actor signed on after he found "that the script strongly resonated with him." Mannion says that Johnson had both the physique and the skills to carry the film. "Physically, Sam is perfect for the film. Not just that, he is obviously a talented actor. He's an honest performer and quite subtle when he needs to be. This is something that our character demands."
So with the script written, the crew assembled and the actors cast, there's the small issue of funding. Mannion is attempting to raise the $10,000 to complete the project via Kickstarter, an online pledge system which gathers money from the general public.
One of the new crowdfunding methods, which circumvent traditional avenues of investment, Mannion says Kickstarter has the advantage of guaranteeing exposure. "Kickstarter gives everyone a central place to see our project, and a very simple way of donating and supporting it. Like most group funding websites, the goal is listed right up front so people know how much money you need to gather. Because of its all or nothing scheme - everything is refunded if you fail - people are more likely to donate."
Only the second Australian project to be promoted via Kickstarter, Mannion says the platform also provides an opportunity to build an audience and create buzz. "Normally filmmakers have to wait until release and the festival run before people become aware of a project," Mannion explains. "But this helps to develop an audience early, and this really excites me. We spend so much time in seclusion as writers, and I love the idea of breaking down the wall and opening a dialogue with the audience."
With less than a week to go to raise the funds, Mannion is quietly confidently that they'll reach their target. "Statistics say that group funding projects work on a bathtub curve, which means that they get most of the attention at both the beginning and the end... Regardless of what's going on, I think a filmmaker needs to have the mentality that ‘By said date, I will be shooting. I will make this film, no matter what happens.' At this stage we're committed to seeing this though."