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Bryan is an Atlanta based writer/director and founder of Lucidity Pictures, LLC. He strives to create narrative films with driving focus and deep humanity.

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  • Bryan Tan

Updated: Apr 29

I want to further draw out some of the implications of the last post and talk about how this may change how we think about art.

Here was my definition for art:

Art is a morally neutral thing that has nonetheless attained a moral aspect through its selection or creation by an intellect.

I stated that a work of art comes about via selection or creation. Both of these processes need to be elucidated, for surely not everything that is selected or created is inherently artistic.

When or how does something become art?

Creation:

Concerning creation, let us imagine an impossibly antediluvian caveman, so ancient that his contemporaries have not yet invented the cave paintings by which we know him. Still, he is a homo-sapien, a genetically modern human, identical to us in every way save for his culture.

We can imagine this caveman working in his environment, fashioning spears, arrows, walking staves, and other implements which assist him in survival. He might make several spears at a time for his hunting group, in which case he may be totally absorbed in the raw function of the spear. In so much as he is concerned with his implements in an exclusively functional light, it does not appear that any artistry is going on. Yet for a human being, it is almost impossible to imagine that at some point, he would not take some greater interest in his work. He may fashion a particular spear tip better than the rest, he may carve a shaft for it stronger and straighter than the rest, and as he lashes the stone head to it he may think:


"I like this spear. This is a good spear."


This is the beginning of an artistic impulse. It is true that his appreciation for the spear arises out of a concern that is purely functional. Nonetheless out of this raw design consideration he has come to a greater appreciation of his spear. He may express his appreciation of this particular spear by giving it extra care, sanding it down so that it doesn't splinter, adding a weight to the back so that it's balance is perfect, or he may furnish it with decorations and adornments which have a purely aesthetic value to him. In either case he has created a work of art. It became a work of art for him the very instant the spear became something more than a mere fighting implement.

Design as it relates to artistic creation:

This raises a question, if he does not adorn the spear but only continues to perfect its function and design, when does this design become art? We shall find that not all art is designed, and not all design is art. Design is simply the process of creating something. To distinguish whether a design is artistic or not, we need to discern the intent of the creator. I think we can identify of two types of design intent. Functional and aesthetic. Functional intent is rather self explanatory. The design intent is to make the item perform its task in the most optimal manner. Aesthetic design exists to make an item appear more significant than mere pure form would suggest, or to alter how one views the item, making it more palatable or interesting where it might feel boring and unimportant without it.

We can look at various household items and observe both kinds of design. For objects of significant complexity, we shall find that it is almost impossible for a designer to resist efforts to incorporate aesthetic design considerations. There are items with merely functional design, for instance a tissue; items with only aesthetic design, like a figurine on a mantelpiece; and lastly there are items with both, which I suspect is the largest bracket. This would include things like a kitchen pan, or a television set, even a pair of scissors. We also will find that different designers working for different purposes can create the same type of object, yet one can be artistic, and the other purely functional. Duchamp would appreciate this next example. The toilet paper one might find in a public restroom appears to exist only for its function. But if you buy a more expensive brand for your home, you will find that on this thin, fragile paper they have imprinted a light pattern on it and for what purpose? The pattern has no ergonomic advantage or apparent function, it only serves to make this common and rather base item a little more palatable for us. In this case, we can say that even toilet paper can have artistic properties.

In some cases, aesthetic considerations may arise purely out of the functional concerns. The curve of a spear tip may first be considered for optimal sharpness and cutting efficiency, but through this the curve can be come aesthetically desirable as well. What we find is that humans are quite good at imbuing even very simple things with more significance than is apparent in their mere function.

Selection:

But what if the caveman resisted all urges to express himself through his design of the spear? The spear can still become art if it is so selected. It is only that the genesis of the art takes place at a different moment.

In lieu of a caveman fashioning a spear that he prefers over the others, let us imagine a group of spears, fashioned in famine, in the dead of winter, in great desperation, a state where no specific thought was given to the spear, where it was only created for the express purpose of survival. If the spear we discussed earlier - the favored spear - were to be lost it would be a shame in the eyes of the caveman; a minor tragedy. However if one of these spears is lost it is merely an inconvenience. This latter spear, while being created, has no artistic properties.

But one day on the hunt the caveman might throw one of these spears and score an important kill with it, downing a mammoth which shall feed his tribe for a week. Perhaps he uses it again on a later hunt and again scores a valiant blow with it. He may come to prefer it in some way, to think of it as his lucky spear. He may keep it separate from the others, walk with it always in his right hand and be reticent to share it. This spear is not different from the others in any aesthetic or design manner, yet it has obtained some kind of moral significance to the caveman that exceeds the others. Like the former spear, the one crafted with more care and forethought, if this spear were lost, it would now be a shame.

In either case, the caveman has committed a simple artistic act. He has done so by his effort to imbue an inanimate object with some kind of transcendent moral significance.

Is artistic value illusory?

You might argue that "transcendent moral significance" is far too strong a phrase for a caveman's favorite spear. I can also see one rolling their eyes at the idea that this latter spear has artistic value similar to the former. One might say instead that it has mere sentimental value and that artistry hasn't taken place unless he begins to adorn the spear. One might also argue that any value the caveman tries to imbue the spear with is merely subjective and therefore it does not have any intrinsic artistic value, only a subjective value.

I don't feel we should commit ourselves to such a view. I am not meaning to suggest that artistic value exists in the sense that a rock exists, or even that it exists in a Platonistic sense. I would say that artistic value exists in the same sense that we might say moral goodness exists.

In philosophy it is a complex and evergreen topic to discuss the objectivity of moral values and in what sense they exist, and we needn't get into the weeds about that. I would want to assert two things. First, that most people believe in some kind of objective morality regardless of whether or not it is hard to discern. By this I mean that some things are right or wrong in all possible circumstances regardless of the cultural inclinations of a society, i.e. The Holocaust. Secondly, that if objective morality exists then artistic value also exists. It follows from this that if objective morality does not exist, then artistic value also does not exist. This would be a world in which nothing matters, where no frame of reference could be considered preferable, and ideas like justice and goodness are just illusory human concepts. I don't see a reason to accept this unlivable worldview.

What then of this sentimental value as opposed to artistic value? I have a hard time seeing any fundamental difference between the two. If selection can also be a means of artistic creation, then to say something is artistic isn't necessarily to say that it has been well designed, only that it has some kind of moral significance unrelated to its function. A mug shot is an act of selection that isn't artistic, but if you then select that mugshot and put it in a picture frame you have created a work of art. The moment of artistic creation is not the moment the picture was taken but the moment someone decided it was worthy of display in a new context. I don't see any reason why the spear is different regardless of the emotional impulse behind the selection. What is important is that such an emotional impulse takes place.

This is not to say that there are not other kinds of selection that are not artistic. For instance historic selection or scientific selection. We can think of many scenarios in which objects could be of interest for these purposes which are not related to artistic selection, but in either of these cases the object's worth would be entirely rooted in its value to these projects. The value of artistic selection is often rooted in human emotions, is much more hard to define, and takes on a moral character that is notably absent from other kinds of selection. Sentimental selection falls quite nicely into this hard to define category.

Is art observer dependent?

Well that's great for the caveman but what about us? For even if the caveman values his spear greatly, how can the rest of us know it was important to him? What if he is killed by a rival tribe and his spear is taken by a man totally oblivious of the significance it had to him? Does the spear remain art? It isn't important who knows about the spear's significance, only that at one point someone saw it as such. We encounter this issue all the time, like when a family member unknowingly throws something away that we value. Art in most cases exists to be seen and experienced, but it isn't necessary that this actually occurs, only that it is possible. Art requires only a creator or selector. If an astronaut crash lands on Pluto and carves his wife's name into a rock as he dies, he has created art. It is not important that no one will ever know he did this.

Are all things with artistic properties worthy of being called Art?

You may at this point say, "well fine, the spear has some artistic value, but not very much. Not enough to call it art." In this case I would agree strongly with the first point and disagree with the latter. Of course a spear would have very little artistic value, just like a pair of scissors would have very little artistic value. But so long as someone looked at the handle of the scissors and decided that it ought be be one color rather than another, that person made an artistic decision and that means that the scissors have some arbitrarily low but nonzero artistic value.

For the sake of argument, let us say that the scissors have an artistic value of .0000324 Art, and the Sistine Chapel has an artistic value of 100,000 Art. It is significant that the value of the scissors is not zero, the way a bare metal paper clip is zero. The question would then arise, how many "Art points" does something need to be called Art? We can see very quickly that such a conversation is so rife with subjectivity as to be completely pointless. No single person would be in agreement as to what number we should assign as the criterion of artistic value and there would be even less agreement over the value of each individual item.

Returning to my thesis of the first article, we can side step this whole pointless quibble by just calling everything that has ever had an artistic impulse acted upon it art no matter how insignificant it is, and after this we can have much more useful conversations.

For all this talk, I don't like this idea of Art, as in Art with a capital a; art as this great idea which ought to be celebrated an put on a pedestal in its own right. Art can be all manner of things, it doesn't have to be exceptional. Not all art needs to be significant, it can be banal and commonplace. None of this needs to be an insult against it, nor does it mean we shouldn't strive to create great art. But certainly there is more of this banal art than there is "great" art. In fact it is clear that on this view, we live in a world utterly suffused with art of all kinds. Most of it is utterly mundane, some of it base, and some of it majestic and powerful.

This view takes into account both the subjectivity of human experience and an appreciation of objective artistic value. To say something is a work of art doesn't mean that it has to be interesting to us. For instance, I don't much care for Andy Warhol, but it isn't a problem for me to call his Campbell Soup Can series art. I can still say that in my eyes, it is insignificant, not worthy of discussion, and if everyone shared my view it would be a work of art that existed in total obscurity. None of this commits me to the highly subjective position that somehow, because it is so banal and uninspired, it is in fact not a work of art.

How this view of art relates to cinema:

We can draw from this view of art that there is little difference between so called Art cinema and popular cinema, there exists only works of differing value and intent. It is not important that Transformers exists almost exclusively to make money for Paramount and to help Hasbro sell toys. It is a work of art because it was created by an intellect and has a nonzero artistic value however small it might be. Once again, this does not mean we have to celebrate Transformers, only that we do ourselves a disservice to simply state that it is not art. For if we do so we are ignoring the fact that this type of film still influences us, still enters our subconscious, and occupies a certain place in our memory. To say Transformers is not art would be to dismiss all the millions of people who enjoy these films and those that are genuinely moved by them. It means that we can dismiss the idea that "well, that's just a popcorn flick, it isn't worth thinking about." This is irresponsible both on the part of the creator and the viewer. Transformers effects us via sound and moving picture. This is obviously the same of any film, and even silent films had live music. In this sense I don't see any reason why we should think of Transformers differently than we might think of First Reformed. It is only the intent and the specific images and sounds that change. - Bryan

  • Bryan Tan

Updated: Apr 29

Diving into the deep end here for Post #2, scratching my head as I try to remember my art history classes. In thinking about the question "how ought we make films?" I want to widen the perspective. Answering this question will necessitate us talking about art in general, and it shall not be futile to look at the artistic world beyond film in search of examples that pertain to our interest.

The art world spent much of the 20th Century attempting to answer the question "What is art?" This question was not simply an academic exercise for art critics but a constant thematic question for the artists themselves. There may be no work which so embodies this question as Marcel Duchamp's Fountain. Fountain is a work that seeks to stretch the bounds of how art can be defined, and to a great extent, actually succeeds in arguing for a very broad definition of the word "art" in a formal setting. However I do not think I am alone in finding a great discomfort with affording this work and others like it, the respect to the same degree that we would the work of a more classical master. In fact I will be so bold as to assert that for any viewer who is unfamiliar with the very specific context and intent of Duchamp, it shall appear to be nothing more than a bad joke, and the art world, a realm of gullible, pretentious nonsense. Of course those who are familiar with Duchamp will assert that there is far more going on than that, and in this they are probably quite right. However I think this is where the conversation often stops, right in the midst of a great divide between popular and scholarly opinion. I am convinced that we should not be satisfied with this divide. If art is to remain both an intellectual pursuit and a positive influence within culture, this common place reaction to such a work needs to be understood and reckoned with, rather than being dismissed as the simple uninformed position of the artistic laity.


Fountain: ruffling feathers since 1917. Blame Marcel.

If I take a pine cone, I remove it from nature, and place it on my mantelpiece, does the pine cone become art? This is in essence the question Duchamp asks with his infamous toilet, the Fountain, an otherwise entirely normal urinal which he placed on a platform and exhibited as though it were a sculpture he created. The question is that of context. Is the content what defines art, or the context? For those who would assert the more obvious position that it is the content that matters, consider the following. How does the pine cone on a mantelpiece differ from a photograph of a sunset?


You might protest that a photograph had to pass through the collative eye of the photographer, it was a moment, one out of an infinite number, that was selected by the skilled and trained eye of the photographer, and captured in a fraction of a second that shall never come again; a totally unique work that cannot be replicated. But then, if we think more about the pine cone we shall find again that this particular pine cone is entirely unique, and it also required a specific eye to find it, to select it; one out of many, as preferential above all others and worthy of display. Like a photo, the pine cone may have sentimental value attached. It could be from a day when its selector climbed a certain hill and met his significant other. The pine cone could also serve as a symbol of growth or any number of interpretations once its selector has pulled it out of its natural setting and chosen to place it deliberately within a new one.

In practice we find that it is quite hard to show logically how the pine cone differs from the photo. Yet none of this shall prevent me from scoffing at the "Fountain" of Duchamp. But while I find myself needing to concede Duchamp's point, I also find myself raising my fist at him. This conversation about what can be defined as art continues in a similar manner across the 20th Century. Another high water mark for this conversation is the John Cage composition 4:33, in which the performance of a "musical composition" consists of no notes, only a pianist sitting at a bench silently for four minutes and thirty three seconds. The piece consists of the sounds of the audience breathing, the AC of the concert hall, and whatever other ambient sounds are present. In 1952, that was considered the music of genius.


A few decades later we find that we perceive a great decline in interest of contemporary classical music, painting, literature. In both work and in the realm of critique the discussion seems to have ground to a halt. There is no more avante-garde in our age of artistic pluralism. To my knowledge, contemporary works are not selling or entering the popular lexicon to the degree that we are familiar with works of the 20th Century, even decades later. There are of course exceptions to this but I don't want to be dragged down into a debate in the weeds of whataboutisms. I assert this decline on the basis of my general awareness of culture, I concede that my awareness is limited and your opinions may different from mine, but you will fail to convince me that there is a living equivalent to Rachmaninoff, or to Vincent Van Gogh. This decline should not surprise us when works like Fountain and 4:33 come to be celebrated by the supposed artistic elite.


I don't think anyone has quite come up with such a definition of art that satisfies everyone, but permit me to suggest my own, despite it being neither first, nor final:

Art is a morally neutral thing that has nonetheless attained a moral aspect through its selection or creation by an intellect.

I admit this is a very vague and general definition, and you will see that it would necessarily include works like Duchamp's Fountain, and Cage's 4:33. It would even include paint splattered on a canvas by an oblivious elephant. What this definition does not, and cannot do is tell us if these works are good or bad. Indeed, the question "what is art?" does not go any length to tell us what works are worth our time and what works have less value than a child scribbling on a wall. What this definition does require is that art has value. Good or bad, it has a significance to us. We can be morally repulsed by it just as much as we can be uplifted by a different work. Art bears meaning.

By this definition, Fountain is art, yes. But it could be bad art. It could be morally and artistically detrimental to the human psyche. The totality of the work might cause the lay person to close down emotionally or stunt their receptivity toward other works of art. It could be conceited, alienating, and narcissistic. I might argue that Fountain is guilty on all of these counts. It would take me another essay to fully expound upon why. What is important is that, whether or not one might agree with me, the discussion that would follow would be a discourse on the actual merit of the work or its lack thereof. This is precisely the discussion worth having, not an endless quibble over what is or isn't art. Like so much of public discourse today, a discussion of this sort ends up dancing around the real conflict and devolving into a battle of pure rhetoric.


We need to appreciate our gut reaction to art. Bad work is off putting to us. It isn't important for us to argue over whether or not a work constitutes an artistic pursuit. What is important is how we react to it, how it affects us. We have been so preoccupied in dealing with the question "what is art?" that we have forgotten the more important question, "what is good art?"


- Bryan

  • Bryan Tan

Updated: Apr 13, 2019


The Emissary was such a massive effort for me that I thought it would be worth the time to put some of the journey down on paper. If you've arrived here without seeing the film, I encourage you to watch it first, here!


I also cut together some of the b-roll from the film shoot and my time building the set into this video. I was so emaciated when I recorded this interview! Or go directly to vimeo here.



 

Before I discovered filmmaking, I wanted to be an astrophysicist. I loved space; to read about black holes, neutron stars, and Europa, Jupiter's strangest moon. Mostly, I dreamed of going there -- of floating above the Milky Way, able to take in its whole spiraled shape with my own eyes. But I do not regret that to study such things was not ultimately my career path. I realized that a filmmaker is much more likely to travel to these places than a physicist. For there is no other person who can more vividly appreciate how stuck we are here on Earth than the physicist.


The Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Courtesy of Hubble.

Prior to The Emissary, I had never been able to marry my love of space with my love of filmmaking. I spent the better part of 2016 writing a feature script The Basilica, which is in many ways the predecessor to The Emissary. Upon finishing The Basilica, also a film set on a space ship, I knew the visuals would appear too ambitious and difficult to achieve on a limited budget, so I set about finding a cost effective way to prove that they would be doable in a striking and effective manner. Out of this, was born The Emissary. I did not want The Emissary to be a simple scene or two from The Basilica. Rather, The Emissary is a standalone film with a tone and message unique to its story and to my mental state at the time.


Nonetheless, The Emissary allowed me to test a scaled down version of the methods and techniques that I plan to employ on The Basilica.

So began 2017, which shall always be for me, the year of The Emissary. Making a film has a way of taking over your entire life, and never was this more the case for me than on this film. Indeed, it is only now, two years later that I am truly stepping out of the shadow of this project.

The first three months of 2017 consisted of planning, learning new software, and laying the groundwork for what would come. I first approached Viviana Chavez, an actress and a good friend who immediately responded to the material and who I knew would be able to bear the burden of the central character, Liv Laika. Vivi's husband, Travis is incidentally a cinematographer and regular co-worker of mine. I knew the experience of our countless projects and years of lighting together would be invaluable to capturing the interior of the space ship. I next met with Sam Laubscher another talented cinematographer friend, and we set about creating a unique palette for the Earth portions of the film. In the mean time Holly Patterson, production designer on my SCAD projects, and I designed the look and layout of the spaceship in Sketchup. All the while, Matt Finley and I discussed how we would render the complex space imagery outside the windows of Liv's ship.

At the end of March we filmed at Lake Lanier on 35mm film. This was my first time shooting film for my own project and there is little I can say about celluloid that would be new. I simply echo what has been said about it by its proponents. It is beautiful, almost magical, and brings an entirely different energy to the process of film making that makes for a heightened experience unlike anything else. The look of film suited the memory-like quality that I wanted for the earth sequence.

It occurred to me that memories do not unfold like dialogue scenes from a movie. We often remember little snippets of what a person says and these snippets are not married to close ups of the person speaking to us. We remember rather, the visual palette of where we were: the details, the wind, the weather, a smile. We remember how we felt.

In April began the real work of constructing Liv's spaceship, the set where most of the film unfolds. I knew the room in which we built the set would be key. Because of my greenness in set design, I knew I would need far longer than a professional crew to build the set. I also wanted to have the space available for an extended period so that we could take our time with production and have room for reshoots. On our thin budget, this ruled out any professional studio space. As it turned out, the best place to build the ship was right next to me, the garage of my parent's house. It was an environment that I had constant access to and for free. In indie filmmaking, I am constantly reminded of the Teddy Roosevelt quote, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Over the next four months, I made no less than forty nine trips to Home Depot. I learned how to build the set as we went along. The Sketchup model was the groundwork, but provided no basis for actual execution. I am a freelancer so any day that I was not on a job, I was building the set. Each day was new territory, a new challenge of measuring, cutting, painting, measuring again, cutting again, and so on, for months on end.

I was not entirely alone in constructing the ship. I was helped at key moments along the way by a great number of people. Justin Torrence helped me figuratively break ground on the first day of the set build with a crash course in carpentry. Phil Dunlop performed the nerve wracking drive across town with the massive cardboard sonotube that would become the Sleep Tube. My brother David spent his weeks' vacation putting in 12 hour days with me to construct the cockpit set. Jesse Scimeca built the entire corridor set for the ending scene, with minimal direction from myself. Matt Finley sacrificed many countless hours of sleep, compositing the visuals of the film for projection, on top of his full time job. Months later, and across the country, Brittany Ellis and Kyle Lammerding gave up their concert trip to complete the sound design in time for delivery of the finished film.

This is only a fragment of the full picture of effort friends and family put in; day in, day out toil through the hottest summer days. I couldn't possibly name everyone who helped here. Even my parents helped along the way, my dad frowning at my carpentry and filling in the gaps with his caulk gun. My mother worked many of the finer details of the ship, like the labels of the cockpit switches and the sewing of the translucent garden screens. With any less effort, the film could not have existed.

We built the cockpit on wheels so that we could transport it to other locations. This was our studio day. We filmed at BrandRED studios where we could have better control of the environment as opposed to the backyard of my parent's house.

I wanted as many of the film's special effects as possible to be captured in camera, without green screen, so this meant that the visual effects we created had to be completed before we began filming. The visual effects process is normally reserved for the months after the film is shot. This meant that we had double the pre-production workload compared to a normal film shoot.

So when it grew dark and the bugs came out, I would go inside, into the next room and hunch over the craft table where I worked on the miniature, a beast in its own right, but absolutely pivotal to the film's climactic moments.

The miniature is of a space station – actually a space elevator, which travels from orbit, down to the surface of an icy moon, where presumably, the people of Yaghan have taken up residence in a colony underneath the surface.

Enceladus, one of the moons of Saturn, served as inspiration for Navarino, the mysterious final moon of Liv's journey. This moon is covered in ice beneath which there is a liquid sea of water. Although it appears inhospitable, some scientists actually believe it is strong candidate to support life.

I wanted the space station to look unlike anything we have seen in a film. I wanted it to have the feeling of a massive oil platform at sea, with a strange, irregular shape, impossible to take in at a glance; a platform with no aesthetic concerns in mind, only brute function. In depictions of space elevators, we almost never see the rendering of the top. It occurred to me, the top of such an elevator would not be a simple door. It would be a great hub, like an airport, where ships could come and go. There would probably be staff and living space and a great number of amenities necessary to support the function of the station. By the time of the film, this station is abandoned. At this isolated moon of Yaghan, there is no need to go into orbit, no one to trade with, nowhere to go.

I first modeled the station in Sketchup, and then constructed it out of foam-core, styrofoam, and styrene modeling plastic. The stiff odor of the solvent which bonds the styrene forms together shall never leave me. I felt great dread every time I looked at the miniature, sitting unfinished on the desk. Of all the challenges of the film, I was the most skeptical that the miniature would be convincing.

Despite all this effort, we were not ready to film until September. The shoot itself is all blurred together for me, I remember it like one long day, but it was actually five. We wrapped the night before Hurricane Irma hit. I remember the scary drive across town to return the gear the following day, only hours before the storm arrived. We later shot several pick up days, and the final shoot day was not until late October, when we had our effects for the space station completed. It was not until this last day of shooting, when I held up the camera, looking through the cockpit of Liv's ship, where I could see the projected image of the station, that I thought, “Wow, we made that.”



Post production was completed in March, 2018, in time for our premier at the Atlanta Film Festival. After which, I continued to make subtle changes to the effects, the edit and the sound mix. I made my last and hopefully final changes as recently as March 2019.

Now after a year of film festivals, looking back on it all, I wonder about the take away. I wonder if the immense effort we put in comes through on the screen. Whole features have been made in the time it took for me to make one short film. I wonder if it was all worth it. The trouble with a project like this is that when you talk about it, you don't talk about the film and its story. Conversation just becomes about how difficult it was to make. “Wow, good job, that must have been really tough.” “Looked awesome, mate. Can't believe you did that in your garage!” Of course I appreciate these comments but I'd hate to say that all this was about was getting a pat on the back for a hard days work.

The Basilica looms large over the future. I am six drafts into the screenplay. I want to incorporate every lesson I learned from The Emissary. I now appreciate the challenges it shall present so palpably. But then, what about The Emissary? Was this stepping stone really justified as a film in its own right, or was it all just an elaborate screen test for The Basilica? And how long will it be before I can make The Basilica anyway?

When I have these thoughts I think back to an interaction I had following our screening at the Rome Film Festival. After The Emissary played, I was approached by a group of high school students from the audience. Their teacher bought them tickets to go to the film festival. (Props to that teacher!)

“Are you going to make a sequel?”

“Why do you think the people left the Earth?”

“What's on the other side of the door?”

“If I were rich, I'd give you a billion dollars to make whatever you want.”

Their bubbly questions and genuine interest must be among the most edifying things I have ever heard. For these kids, there was no question of the set or miniatures, or how we did it, or shooting with projection instead of green screen. For them, the world of the story existed and nothing else: a woman alone on a spaceship with only her memories and the fading hope of finding her ancestors.


- Bryan