Bradley King was an American screenwriter and the wife of a director John Griffith Wray. She wrote scripts for 56 films.
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Hey, I'm Bradley King. I grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and recently self-funded and directed my first feature film TIME LAPSE. You can check out the film here: http://www.timelapse-themovie.com/
I co-wrote it with writer / producer B.P. Cooper. And I directed it in 2013, and it went on to play in 75 film festivals around the world.
The story is about 3 roommates who discover their old scientist neighbor dead, and in his apartment is a camera that takes pictures of the future. They decide to use the camera for personal gain, until disturbing images start to appear.
I'm looking forward to any questions you have regarding the writing, production, film festival process and/or indie distribution world. AMA.
Thanks everyone for their fantastic questions! If you have any further queries regarding Time Lapse, feel free to tweet or PM. And thanks reddit for hosting!
Hi Bradley, I noticed that you cast John Rhys-Davies as the scientist but he wasn't really in the film much, was the part written that way or did a lot of his scenes get cut? What was it like to work with such a prolific actor?
We cut his scenes, which was a total heartbreak for me. It wasn't his fault at all, he was completely amazing to work with and executed the material exactly as we envisioned. The fault was in the writing; the pacing suffered from having a flashback in an area of the story which needed to be picking up speed and energy, and also the information delivered in his scenes was expressed in other parts of the movie, so there was some redundancy. The material was cut, and the movie overall clearly worked better, so we had to leave it out. I will say that working with him was probably the best day of my life up to that point, no hyperbole at all; he's an extremely professional, gifted, giving actor. And yes on top of it, I grew up on the Indiana Jones movies and was geeking out insanely to have him on set and be giving him direction. I should also mention that he's just a really fun and interesting guy to hang out with, and was awesome about taking photos with the crew and sharing his stories. I really hope to work with him again.
Where did you get the idea for Time Lapse?
For a while my writing partner BP Cooper and I had been trying to come up with a science fiction premise that we could do within a limited budget. One day while brainstorming, Cooper mentioned the movie "Timeline" in which the characters send a camera back in time to take a picture. Cooper then posed the question, "So what if the camera and the time machine were the same device...?". I got excited about that, and started brainstorming ideas surrounding a small group of characters in a single location interacting with such a device, and we went from there.
Any plans for a prequel?
Wow, haven't been asked this before! Usually we get asked about sequels, or a television series. Now that I'm thinking about it, I would really love to get into the story of the scientist and how he developed the machine in the first place, and why.
Hey there, I was lucky enough to catch a screening of this at Other Worlds, what was doing the film festival circuit like? Was there any one festival that really stood out?
I love attending film festivals as a spectator, and had been dreaming of taking a movie on the circuit for quite some time. I was able to attend less than half of the 75 festivals that the movie went to, but it was an extremely rewarding experience. Every festival had its merits and excitement, but an easy standout was the world premiere at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. The festival has been around forever and the audiences there are extremely passionate and engaged. Also, it was a bit of a trial by fire as a director due to one of the unusual traditions: a filmmaker introducing their movie is basically forced to sing a song on stage prior to the screening. I'm a terrible singer and at that point in the circuit still had some degree of stage fright. Needless to say, after that my fear of public speaking was greatly diminished, and now I know a song in French by heart.
What made you decide to self-finance your film? Do you think you'll be doing so again with your next project?
Thanks for doing this AMA!
The decision to self-finance came from a lot of directions. First and foremost was necessity; as unknown quantities, we really didn't have anyone knocking our door down with financing for a movie. Also however I think I knew that my first time out, I really wanted to be able to make my own decisions and mistakes. When someone is dictating a lot of your creative choices, at the end you're left wondering, "What if I'd done it my way?". When you self-finance you're able to really take risks, and I'd rather make horrific public mistakes and be able to learn from them, than be told what to do and never know if my instincts are good or not.
Hi Bradley! Just wanted to ask what are your favorite sci-fi thriller movies? Also, ever played Alien: Isolation? Sounds like something up your alley!
My list of favorites is endless, I'm such a fan of the genre, but off the top of my head: Timecrimes, 12 Monkeys, Primer, and yes the Alien movies for sure. I'm a huge fan of thrillers in general, and a lot of inspiration for Time Lapse came from Alfred Hitchcock movies, and more modern works like Shallow Grave and A Simple Plan. I have played Alien: Isolation and it's great!
How many reviews of this film have you read? How do you deal with reading reviews? Do you find them useful, or just hurtful?
I started out reading a lot of the reviews, especially during the festival circuit. It was challenging at first. It's easy to let the good reviews inflate you and the bad reviews depress you. In principle as an artist I think it's important to get and engage with feedback, and along with test screenings and audience reactions, film critics are just providing another form of it. One vital muscle I had to develop though was the ability to separate the useful and constructive criticism from the hyperbole and rhetoric.
when writing, are you conscious of how much an overly elaborate shot could cost and alter the script accordingly?
Absolutely. As an independent filmmaker, budget is something you're constantly aware of. I like to think it can be a creative limitation however, which will spur you to interesting solutions you might not otherwise have discovered. I had the luxury of being able to storyboard in the actual location, which helped us be precise about what we could and couldn't afford to do in regards to time and money. Also I was fortunate that BP Cooper is so adept at budgeting, he was always there to give us a reality check if we got too ambitious about something, both during the writing process and production. Overall though I don't feel like I had to make any debilitating compromises due to budget, and I'm really proud of the way DP Jonathan Wenstrup made our story come to live in light, angles and camera movement.
Hi Mr. King. Could you talk about one time that something on set went horribly wrong, and how it was resolved?
The mind has a funny way of glossing over the terror and the pain, so I have to dig a little here... One seemingly mundane but actually really challenging issue was the plumbing at the location. The apartment complex was very old, built in the 20s I believe, and it had been vacant and untended for several years when we started shooting. The bathrooms in the different bungalows started failing one by one, and we had to spend an alarming amount of money on plumbers as the shoot went on. I don't know how much of our contingency budget went to dealing with this, but it was significant. We started out with something like a dozen working bathrooms, and by the end were down to just one. That's one rickety old bathroom for a crew of 50+, which just created a lot of logistical stress and complication in the background of the already stressful and difficult process of filmmaking.
I've watched this film and enjoyed it very much.
What would you say was the biggest challenge in getting the project done?
I always feel like writing is the hardest part of the process, but beyond that we did have a few major hurdles. One was finding the location; we ended up needing an entire apartment complex we could take over for a few months, which isn't the easiest thing to locate. After that, the second biggest challenge was probably continuity, and keeping track of all the details and time-related logic going on in the story.
Have you ever had a desire to act?
I did a bit of acting in high school, and I actually found it really rewarding. At heart I'm more of a voyeur than an exhibitionist however, and I definitely prefer to be behind the camera. Having said that, I have insane respect for any actor willing to put themselves out there emotionally, and as filmmakers we would have no art at all without them.
Bradley, your live AMA is happening at the same time KNX News radio is doing a live "Ask The Mayor" segment with Garcetti.. My question is, was it hard for an indie film to shoot in DTLA?
To be honest the producer BP Cooper is fantastic at shielding the director from having to deal with the terrors of permitting and other filmmaking logistics, so my answer here will feel a little glib. I thought it was great! We had the run of this entire complex close to downtown, and it felt like a little backlot for the cast and crew that became our home. We never dealt with any serious noise issues, it was easy to frame out the skyscrapers, and the neighbors were overall cooperative and welcoming.
What motivated you to become a Writer / Director?
From an early age I was drawn to the arts, but in my late teens and early twenties made a concerted effort to discover what medium was most suited to my disposition and passion. I worked in sculpture, graphic design, self-published comics, and animation. When I finally landed in a film class, it was immediately clear this was where I wanted to be. Within filmmaking I did try the different departments, experimenting with camera, light, sound and editing. In the end I found that I was most satisfied directing. I also discovered that I found it most rewarding to direct things I'd had a hand in writing, but I also started out as a very poor writer. That part of the creative process I really had to work at, and of course am still striving to improve.
Neat! Are there scenes you wish you could have included in the film if you had a bigger budget?
There was a more elaborate opening title sequence planned, which we shot bits of but in post production realized it wasn't appropriate. I still wonder if we'd had more time and money if there was a version of that which would have worked. Other than that I don't really have any whole scenes I wish I'd shot. On a related note, we did have to cut the flashback scenes with actor John Rhys Davies. I'd love to have written those in a way that would have allowed us to keep them in, because he did a fantastic job in them, but so it goes.
What was it like working with editor Tom Cross (who just won an Oscar for Whiplash)? How did you find him, what was your process together, and was he doing Whiplash simultaneously?
Tom was a total joy to work with. In addition to being a fantastic editor, his knowledge of cinema history is legendary. We met via a pretty normal interview process in which we were meeting with potential editors and discussing the project. Tom and I connected over a lot of the same interests in movies, and our working temperaments I think are quite similar.
In terms of our working process, there were different phases to it. Initially he was left alone to do the first cut of the movie, which he accurately described as "Giving you the movie you wrote and shot." which isn't always the best version of the movie, as you quickly learn. From there Tom had more freedom to try his own cuts and experiments, and we would meet daily to watch them and discuss and come up with notes. I firmly believe that if you're going to go to the trouble of bringing together all these artists to make your movie, as a director you should give them the space and time to follow their instincts and actually practice their craft. Inevitably they will surprise you, and give you things you didn't know you wanted or needed. As a writer and director who had lived with the material for almost a year, I already knew what cuts I would make, and there's always time to go back and give notes and try it your way if you don't like what's being shown to you. Tom is an excellent example of why you should let artists do their thing - he frequently surprised and delighted us with his instincts, and he made the movie better.
He was not doing Whiplash at the time, thankfully; we were able to really come to completion before he had to move on to that.
I saw Time Lapse and was shocked at how high the production value was. Indie used to mean crappy quality. Do you think this is a recent change to the field? Or did you guys just work crazy hard to make it look good?
The improvements in quality of gear, particularly in the camera department, of course have made indie movies look better over the years. However, it's still obviously easy to make a terrible looking thing. The cinematographer Jonathan Wenstrup and I had long meetings about how to try and make sure that this movie didn't feel indie, and came up with various plans and ideas to further that. First and foremost, I didn't want any shaky-cam in the film. That started with the writing, when BP Cooper and I agreed that we didn't want to do a found-footage story, but also I think handheld and shaky camerawork has become a crutch for some filmmakers. I'm not saying it's always a bad thing; sometimes it's very appropriate for the material. For Time Lapse though I wanted to be more classical about it; we planned dolly moves, worked hard on our compositions, and just tried to ground the thing in a deliberate visual style.
Another component was the lighting; Jonathan and I came up with a plan for making sure the movie started out light and warm, and slowly got darker and higher contrast, to underscore the tension and unraveling of the relationships.
Another obvious area we strove to make feel legit was the art department; Traci Hays and her team did an incredible job making a lot with a little in terms of budget and resources. The machine itself was of course a focus of our energy, and David Mendoza and Thibault Pelletier really nailed it.
I think overall achieving high production value on a low budget comes down to being realistic about what you can do, and making sure to emphasize the parts that really need to shine.
What was it like working with Danielle Panabaker? Was it clear on set that she'd get some awards out of this performance?
Danielle was so great to work with. I can't say enough good things. While writing Time Lapse, Cooper and I had seen her in "Girls Against Boys" at SXSW, and she really left an impression on us. I was understandably excited when she responded to the script for Time Lapse, and we decided to work together.
I try not to think about awards or anything like that during the shooting process; honestly it's so much about survival and protecting the material during the day-to-day combat of production that it's hard to think further than wrap, but in particular it seems too much to be thinking forward into the festivals / reception etc. However it was clear while shooting with Danielle that she was giving us something special, and I wasn't surprised when she won awards for it. She was particularly adept at keeping a finger on the pulse of her character's hidden agenda, and making sure to seed in moments that would be rewarding on a second viewing.