Science Fiction and Horror are two of the most popular genres of movies, especially in the realm of indie films. On January 5, 2016, Uncork’d Entertainment is releasing a science fiction mindbender titled “Shockwave Darkside” which chronicles the story of five soldiers who are shot down and behind enemy lines on the moon. Engaged in a battle over water, frozen in the deep craters of the lunar surface, the soldiers find themselves marooned on the dark side of the moon with depleting air and supplies, they have no choice but to start a dangerous trek through hostile territory. As their numbers dwindle and nerves fray, they make an amazing discovery about the moon that just might save their lives, but destroy the very cause that they are fighting for.
Inspired by the storytelling of classic science-fiction literature from the 50’s, but with a 21st century twist, “Shockwave, Darkside” is an exciting, thoughtful and timely exploration of the tense collision between faith and reason. The movie is a ten year labour of love for writer-director Jay Weisman who previously won the award for the Best American Short Film at the Avignon Film Festival and the Best Short Film Based on Originality and Experimentation award at the Wine Country Film Festival for the World War II drama, “Surveillances”.
Jay Weisman is a graduate of the Film & Television Department of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. His varied entertainment experience includes work in animation, special effects, film and theater. He has produced, directed, and written the animation and vocal performances for video and web games; he has also created several short films. As a producer, Jay Weisman has produced not only interactive projects, but also numerous music videos, industrials, including the special effects for, “A Town Has Turned to Dust” for the Sci-Fi Channel. For his writing, Weisman has won AFTRA’s Addy award for a series of public service announcements for Students Against Drunk Driving. In addition, he has written performance spots for Chrysler and industrials for Primestar Partners, and was the principal writer for Cablevision’s “Explore the Solar System”. Recently, Jay spoke to the Examiner about his experiences working in the film industry:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): What inspired you to become a director?
Jay Weisman (J.W.): In short, I love movies. I always have.I come from a long line of raconteurs – in fact, my grandfather would never give me advice, he’d sit me down and say ‘let me tell you a story’, so in the spirit of that I believe movies are the ultimate story telling device because it encapsulates pretty much every aspects of the arts. From writing to photography, painting and music – it’s all in there in filmmaking. Growing up, I’d say that “Star Wars” had the biggest impact on me – so once I had an idea as to what a director did, I set my sites on doing it someday.
M.M.: What are your favorite kinds of movies?
J.W.: Obviously, I’m a big science fiction nut – but I also love the spy genre, comedies and the occasional classic horror movie.
M.M.: Growing up, what movies had the biggest impact on you? Why?
J.W.: Well, like I said ‘Star Wars’ was probably the biggest influence. I’ve always been interested in space and space travel – so the world that George Lucas presented felt like something out of a daydream. That was probably the first mind-blowing movie experience I had and it is still a powerful memory to this very day. As I got older, films like ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Casablanca’, His Girl Friday’, ‘Frankenstein’, ‘2001’, and ‘Apocalypse Now’ really had profound effects on me as well. Each one of those movies are so wonderful and different, that I think represents various aspects of growing up and learning about story and cinematic technique. I could literally map out my life with what movie I saw when and with whom.
M.M.: What most appealed to you about “Shockwave Darkside”?
J.W.: I think it was the challenge of building a new science fiction world on a very limited budget. The fun (and terrifying) part was trying to boil down the essence of the world that our characters come from in dialogue, performance and innuendo in a way that could get draw the audience into the story. I think this is a challenge for any filmmaker working on a science fiction movie no matter what the budget, but I felt like we had an interesting story to tell – something that had both a scope and an intimacy to it. Our story is about five soldiers that are shot down on their way to battle on the dark side of the moon, so there were a lot of fun little dramatic tensions that we could use to flesh out the world and their predicament. It was a great deal of fun to write and very rewarding to work on with the cast and producers. I just fell in love with the story and characters the more I worked on it.
M.M.: If you could make any kind of film, with an unlimited budget, what type of movie would you make and why?
J.W.: Well I love science fiction, so I’m sure it would be an extension of what we did with “Shockwave” – something with a large canvas, lots of wonderful design and soaring images, but also great, relatable characters with a meaty story. So much of big-budget science fiction these days treat characters and the story like an afterthought, so if I had my druthers, I’d make sure that the story is firing on all those cylinders – no matter the price tag. I think one of the hardest things you can do story-wise is take something as fantastic as a sci-fi setting and make it relatable – so that’s both the fun and work of making a film in that genre. But when done right, to me, there is nothing else like it because these films then can become smart allegories to what’s going on in the world – which is really the power of this kind of storytelling.
M.M.: So far, what has been the most rewarding thing about being involved in the movie industry?
J.W.: As I said above, filmmaking really touches on so many disciplines. From art to science to business, making movies can literally be a gateway into a multitude of worlds. I’d like to think of myself as a pretty curious guy, so it’s a great opportunity to learn from my peers about anything and everything. Not only was it a blast working with my composer Andreas Weidinger, but he thought me so much about music in general. I’ve had conversations about optics with our sterographer Andrew Parke, color theory with VFX Supervisor Wayne Johnson, marketing tactics with producer Dan De Filippo – the list goes on. I think there’s the movie, and then there’s the experience of the making of the movie – which can also be so rewarding unto itself.
M.M.: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?
J.W.: It’s literally been all “Shockwave” all the time for the last year or so – but now that that’s quieting down, I’ve been working on a few scripts that I hope to finish next year. I also did a little writing work on my buddy Alfred Padilla’s most excellent film ‘Best Man in the Dark’ starring ‘Shockwave’ alum Alex Cendese which has been making the festival rounds as well.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the film industry, especially as a director?
J.W.: Don’t give up! Ever! It’s a hard, sometimes lifelong, journey – so I’d say go in knowing that it will be rougher than anything you might ever do. But you should also take a moment to look around and enjoy the ride because you’ll learn so much. The filmmaker I was when I started ‘Shockwave, Darkside’ is much different than the filmmaker that finished it – and I’m really grateful for that experience. Looking back, I’d say the road was an unlikely combination of determination and patience.
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To learn more about Jay Weisman visit his IMBD.