6 questions with Ouroboros director, Henry Boffin at the half-way mark.
Tuesday, August 29th, 2017
1Hi Henry! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, what was the initial seed that inspired you to make this film? Thank you very much!
I've always been a pretty big science fiction buff and a fan of time travel films. The inspiration for this film was contained in the question; 'what would you change if you could go back in time?' I've always found this question truly fascinating becuase there's no way of knowing how any change you could make to your past would play out and there'd be just as much chance that it would lead to a worse present than the one you're currently facing. For example, saying, 'I wish I'd gone to college instead of dropping out of school,' wouldn't necessarily make your life better. You have no way of knowing. You could be dead by now if you'd made that choice! Part of Ouroboros was exploring this idea as well as trying to fit a full and satisfying time travel narrative into a short film. Which was a challenge in itself! Ultimately, if it doesn't challenge yourself as a filmmaker and your audience as viewers then there's not much point doing it.
2This film deals with time travel and has a lot of layers to it. How difficult was it to write the script and what was your biggest challenge? The script itself, perhaps surprisingly, was quick to write. Writing the bare bones of the narrative took one very excited evening. Once I had the idea of this one man going back in time several times to the same point in time it was a matter of working backwards, making sure everything made sense from the final time he appears in the town back to the first time he goes back, which sounds confusing but in a way it's like piecing together a very satisfying jigsaw puzzle. The ending took the most time to develop. To highlight the idea that time travel would not be as idyllic as one might think I wasn't looking particularly at a happy ending, but it still had to be a satisfying close. I also think that the final 'twist' of the time travel movie has been seen in many different forms and I wanted to make sure I had a twist which would still surprise an audience.
The biggest challange was continuity on set. We couldn't shoot the whole film in chronological order so often it was down to me to wrap my head around exactly where the central character was in the story. What had he done? How desperate was he? Where were the other versions of himself situated at the time? It got confusing!
3This film turns the idyllic concept of time travel and reveals how quickly it can get out of hand. What is it about time travel that interests you and why did you want to build a story around it? I just think that time travel is ridiculously interesting. There's a few different theories behind time travel. One idea is that if you went back in time you could actually change things in your history and recast your present as a result. The other theory, which is what I wanted to explore, is that the present is set in stone and is actually a result of you having already gone back in time and tried to change things. I find this idea so fascinating because it throws around ideas of free will and determination. Essentially it says that if you go back in time you already know the outcome of your actions, which is a scary idea for anyone. I myself hate the notion that the future is pre-concieved and we have no power over it.
I suppose I wanted to create a story that explored all of these themes and ideas as simply and effectively as possible. By making the stakes as big as possible - the life of our hero's wife being on the line - it makes our hero's actions seem justified. Who could say there isn't some large and tragic event in their lives that they could have changed if only they'd been there and known what was going to happen?
4Can you share a war story from the shoot? I think the main difficulty we had was one morning when we were looking to shoot our main action sequence of the film. During the first take of the first shot our lead actor, Christopher Sommers, was running and sprained his ankle. We had a whole morning's worth of running shots to do, no stuntman and an actor who could only hobble at best! After some quick re-thinking we worked out how to alter the sequence and fortunately the one take we did of Chris running at full speed was technically sound so we were able to use it in the final film. Chris went to a doctor straight after his injury by the way, just in case you were thinking we forced him to keep on running despite injuring himself. Goes to show the dedication of the team and our actors that he was still game to make the sequence work.
5What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? That's a tricky one! I'd have to say something like Jurassic Park. It came out when I was pretty young and for years my Mum would only let me watch a sensored version of the film, fast-forwarding past all the scary bits. Which actually was way worse because I would never get to see how things played out and whether the heroes survived or not!
I love that film though, it's got a bit of everything. Scares, adventure, humour, dinosaurs.
I'd have to say Christopher Nolan was a bit of an influence on Ouro though. I remember seeing Memento for the first time and realising that the storyteller really is master. You can tell a narrative in any order or direction that you like and still make a truly satisfying story.
6What's next? I'm currently working on a new short film which isn't a sci-fi for once! It's a narrative that explores the world of cults in Australia and in particular one woman's tale of the night she decided to take her children and run away from one such organisation.
Cults in Australia are such a big yet underestimated issue. I'm really looking forward to the callenge of shedding some light on this difficult subject whilst treating it fairly and sensitively. We're looking to shoot in the next few months.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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