Interview with crew of ‘Existence’
There’s a new apocalyptic film coming from New Zealand, called Existence (Facebook page). While still too early in the film’s development, the filmmakers contacted us and were kind enough to share some details. In the coming weeks, we’ll post more production notes. For now, we have this interview and photo gallery.
ApocalypicMovies.com: Can you explain your film’s genre, Salvagepunk Western?
Director Juliet Bergh: “In effect ‘Existence’ takes Western themes and sets it in a post apocalyptic future with a salvagepunk aesthetic. Salvagepunk is a term coined by theorist Evan Calder Williams that describes a post apocalyptic vision of the future where civilization is destroyed by insidious decay. The salvagepunk concept provided a template for key creatives on which to base the tone and vision of the film. It is a minimalistic and idiosyncratic reinterpretation of discarded objects that makes the familiar unfamiliar. This inventiveness resonates with the ‘number eight wire’ mentality that is the uniqueness and ingenuity of New Zealand film makers.
Producers Melissa Dodds and Mhairead Connor: Those that remain survive off the skeleton of what is left and refashion and repurpose found items from the wreckage and waste.
AM.com: Not knowing much about your script, can you elaborate a little without revealing spoilers?
JB: (our protaganist) Freya’s family are trapped inside a Boundary fence. She pursues a mysterious outsider who she believes can free her. Her desire to escape risks destroying the fragile existence of a family that is barely surviving on a dying planet.
AM.com: This article (http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/4930010/Futuristic-Kiwi-dialect-on-film) has some interesting background into the linguistics that were employed for your film. Americans aren’t always eager to embrace foreign films. With the lack of subtitles, how difficult do you think it will be for American audiences to comprehend the language?
JB: A majority of the characters in ‘Existence’ speak English. In addition, a unique dialect of English called ‘Rider-Speak’ has been conceived with the combined efforts of linguistic scholars Dr Peter Petrucci and Dr Martin Pavious-Smith. It is used by the Boundary Riders that patrol the fence line that separates them. It is recognisably of English origin but is a prediction of its possible evolution (MD/MC: over 300 odd years).
We have since filming decided – When it is used, subtitles are provided.
AM.com: I was really struck by the beautiful photography on your FaceBook page. The scenery is uniquely New Zealand. Can you talk a bit about that, and the choice of locations?
JB: ‘Existence’ is a film that grew out of the landscape around Wellington, New Zealand. The maritime weather pattern batters these big desolate landscapes offering a rich environment for the imagination.. International productions are drawn to new Zealand landscapes for its fantastical quality. With the benefit of local knowledge, ‘Existence’ takes that quality and reinterprets it as post apocalyptic. The landscape is treated as a character and reflects the identity and isolation of its people within their physical environment and from each other.
AM.com: Will you have a US release date? Talk about your distribution plans.
MD/MC: Existence is due for completion in May 2012. We are in discussions with US Independent festivals including sci-fi and fantasy genre festivals and are seeking distributors for the US release/North American territory.
I, for one, am very excited to see more on this film. I love the look the crew has achieved. Here is a gallery of some of the beautiful images from the film set:
(All photographs copyright EXISTENCE LIMITED, photographer Nick Swinglehurst, director of photography Jessica Charlton)