Taking on a low-budget existential sci-fi epic might seem like a big task for a young, up-and-coming director, but that is exactly what US cinematographer (and now filmmaker) William Eubank did with his feature debut, Love (2011). The film sees an astronaut cut off from the world aboard the International Space Station, left with nothing but the odd bit of radio static for company, and features an engaging turn from American actor Gunner Wright. Taking influence from the work of Stanley Kubrick and Duncan Jones, Eubank could well be one to watch. So, it was with great pleasure then that this week CineVue got the chance to speak to Eubank ahead of the film’s DVD and Blu-ray release.
Ben Nicholson: Love is quite an ambitious piece broaching epic themes. How did the project come about?
William Eubank: I was working at Panavision as a camera tech, shooting my own little projects on the weekends. Angels and Airwaves saw some of the stuff I was doing and really dug it. They asked me to come work for them, and we started putting together an idea for a concept movie album. Originally it was supposed to just be music video like vignettes, but it eventually evolved into a more narrative film.
BN: Do you have a natural affinity for science fiction or was it the ideas and the story that drew you to the genre on this occasion?
WE: I love sci-fi. I’ve always dug films that ask big questions even if they don’t answer them specifically. Space really provides a theatre that I think makes it easy to look inwards at the individual… there is so much unknown that it almost just highlights the human condition.
BN: A large portion of the action is centred around a suitably lo-fi International Space Station that, rumour has it, was constructed in a driveway somewhere from spare parts. Would you care to elaborate on this?
WE: *Laughs* I built it in the backyard; you can still see it using Google Earth. It took me about two years and a ton of trips to the hardware store. All the electronics and lights are from junkyards and there’s a lot of white paint in there! On the budget we had, it unfortunately and fortunately was out of necessity. I say fortunately because the process really grounded the film and kept challenging me to look at how I was going to tell this story.
BN: Given that much of the run time sees your lens focusing on the character of Capt. Lee Miller, how did you go about finding an actor able to inhabit the role?
WE: I had worked with Gunner before on a motorcycle travel channel show and he had a good look. That said, I thought we were only making music videos but when the project evolved into acting and narrative storytelling, he really brought it!
WE: It was actually very mellow; a lot of the time I had the camera armed into the station on a small techno-crane. I would be operating the camera from the wheels and I would give him a radio. I would then direct through the radio giving him a lot of quiet time to get the setting right. It all evolved very organically.
BN: The relationship between a director and DoP can often be an interesting one. How was it having to play both parts?
WE: Its a balance. I think in this way it sort of fits the Hitchcock pre-conceived movie form; he would always carefully plan out his films and then really chase after that vision. Some directors allow the process of actually filming to produce the vision itself. I think by playing both roles it makes it easy for my head to wrap itself around the ingredients going into the film.
However, I have to be careful not to get hung up on technical aspects – poor lighting or crap framing isn’t going to make a difference in a good or bad movie, but shallow performances will.
BN: What’s next in the pipeline for yourself?
WE: In pre-production on my next project right now – we are slated to shoot end of this year. I’m very excited to get back in there!
William Eubank’s Love is released in on DVD and Blu-ray now, courtesy of High Fliers Films. To read our DVD review, simply follow this link.