FACE THE PAST
SAVE THE FUTURE
Now, the reality of independent and/or small studio filmmaking is that more has to be accomplished with less. So, in the process of trying to spin a big yarn with tighter budgetary controls, the truth is that some ideas may not translate as well to the silver screen as others. As a consequence, I do tend to favor these lesser-known releases because they don't get the kind of flash media coverage that tentpole projects do, and I find some of these pictures to be truly invigorating as compared to the usual formula approach to blockbuster storytelling. These pictures may not always achieve the results desired, but they usually give me a bit more to consider when digesting the good, the bad, and the occasionally ugly of any new adventure. And -- most importantly -- I usually find them made with more love, enthusiasm, and good old-fashioned moxie than the typical studio production.
Not all that long ago, I was provided the press materials for Future Soldier, the debut feature from writer/director Ed Kirk. A summary of his resume on IMDB.com suggests that this is a world he's been tinkering with in short films for some time now, and I'm guessing that the resulting popularity has finally given him the chance to transition from those shorter works into something with a bit more meat on its bones. Mr. Kirk was also kind enough to have provided me with complimentary streaming access to the film, so I'll be doing the watch-and-review in the next day or so ... thus, I encourage everyone to keep their eyes peeled on this space as my thoughts will be up for consumption very soon.
In the meantime, I'm going to be doing the usual copy-and-paste of some promotional info that I think might be of service to Mr. Kirk and to all of you. This one definitely looks interesting -- and the accompanying still photographs have a good tone to them -- and I figured you might like being brought up-to-speed on the merits of Future Soldier.
Here's the film's plot summary as provided by our good friends at IMDB.com:
"In the dystopian, cyberpunk future, bounty hunter Mo Harrington returns to action after uncovering a sinister conspiracy. Joining forces with an old friend, hardened ex-cop Xoey Cass, Harrington must race against time to stop dangerous new enemies from threatening the future of Supercity Europe. With the conspiracy unravelling, Harrington and Cass find themselves on a collision course with both The Matriarch, a ruthless crime lord, and the Phalanx Corporation, the militarised security force that polices the streets. Caught in a dangerous web and haunted by ghosts from his previous life, Mo must confront his past as a genetically enhanced Hoplite super-soldier, as well as his own moral code. From the depths of Supercity Europe's underworld to the forgotten military installations of the arctic circle, Harrington and Cass are pitted against shadowy forces, clone troopers and masked assassins as they fight to stop the mysterious 'Project: Centurion', once and for all."
"Future Soldier is an ambitious, science fiction feature film, made on a microbudget. Having previously directed shorts, I wanted my debut feature to be sweeping in scale. Heavily inspired by cyberpunk, action movies from the 80s and 90s, Future Soldier pays homage to films such as Johnny Mnemonic, Blade Runner and Timecop, striving to tell a compelling story set in an expansive, retrofuturistic, dystopian future. Robot arms, laser knives and flying cars are common place. Evil corporations manipulate citizens from the shadows. The setting is a homage to all things cyberpunk, but the film is not a pastiche. When writing and directing Future Soldier, I wanted to tell a story within the genre that entertains while avoiding parody, presenting characters and themes with a serious tone. Our heroes are flawed. Questions about failing systems, corporate corruption and increased surveillance are as relevant as ever. I set out to make a film which treats its audience seriously, while building upon the genre's tropes and motifs. Future Soldier is a film made with love. I hope you are entertained watching it." -- Ed Kirk, Writer/Director
Q&A WITH THE DIRECTOR
A: "With Future Soldier I really wanted to make a film which embodied everything I love about the science fiction genre. I really wanted to tell an entertaining and compelling story in which multilayered characters would be challenged within a vast, dystopian future. It's such a great backdrop to discuss themes of morality and corporate control. I really wanted to get my teeth into this bleak future and flesh it out in a way that felt natural, writing characters which felt consistent with the universe. And some of the characters feature in a short film we made previously. It was an 80s pastiche, tonally a world away from Future Soldier, but that was born from my love of these 80s action films. I just felt that the characters and the world from that short had more to give, more to explore. So when approaching this film, which does stand apart, I wanted to see how we could go a step further and challenge these characters and their beliefs in this really corrupt world they're trying to survive in.
Q: What drew you to the genre and what were your biggest influences when making the film?
A: "It's definitely a mix. I love the 80s/90s science fiction films that really brought the grimy, dystopian cityscapes to life. Blade Runner, Running Man, Johnny Mnemonic and Timecop are all great examples. I really love how this science-fiction setting can be used to discuss really contemporary problems and dilemmas. And visually, we wanted to make a film now, not necessarily make a film with an 80s aesthetic. We looked a lot at Blade Runner 2049, how they revisited that universe through a modern lens. And ultimately, it's an action film. So John Wick and the Raid were really influential when looking at the set pieces and how we physically test the characters in the action sequences.
Q: How has the film evolved from script to screen? Is it different than you expected?
A: "The evolution has been interesting. There's a couple of obvious changes if you read the script. Some scenes have been cut or rearranged to help the story flow a bit better. For example, the opening flashback sequence was originally about 20 minutes in, and we shifted that in post to really strengthen the film's intro. Some things had to be tweaked due to location restrictions on the day. And it's a collaboration. The crew were excellent and really helped suggest things and problem solve on the day. Overall though, the tone and feel of the film is definitely what we set out to make. And I do really believe that films evolve right up until they're done. It's all about making the best, most engaging film you can."
Q: Where was Future Soldier filmed?
A: "Future Soldier was mostly filmed in Lincolnshire, United Kingdom over approximately 2 weeks. We ended up filming a big portion of the film in a couple of warehouses outside of Scunthorpe, with industrial machinery, makeshift sets and corrugated iron filling in the background for some major sequences. It was very rural, in the middle of winter and not very glamourous! We also filmed some of our interiors in Lincoln, which was convenient for some of the cast and crew who were based there. Alongside this, we filmed additional days in South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire."
Q: What position were you in, as a filmmaker, when you started production and how has making the film changed this?
A: "Before we decided to make Future Soldier, I was untested as a filmmaker. I previously directed shorts as a student but I think it's fair to say I didn't, at that point, really have the directing skills to really realise my scripts to a high enough standard, which were always really ambitious. When it came to Future Soldier, I wanted to take that next step. If we were going to make a feature, we had to aim for a really high standard, so we looked at how we could make the film feel more cinematic and how we could better utilise sound, score and performance throughout. When we were making the film, I was really focused on performance, how each scene would grip the audience, and how those scenes would all flow together. I had such a great team around me, I learnt from them and gained a huge appreciation for process. And then the film was in post for 4 years. I grew as a lot as a filmmaker during that time, making more shorts, working different jobs, doing some freelance work. We locked the edit in January 2023, and I've come a long way as a filmmaker since we started the journey. I just think your film doesn't stop evolving until you do the final export. Right up until that point, you're refining and tweaking and I think there's something really interesting about that."
Q: What was the main difference between directing shorts and making your first feature?
A: Just the sheer scale of every part of making the film. All the challenges are the same as making a short, there's just a lot more of them across every aspect of production. And it's considering the piece as a whole, making sure everything is consistent with the film's feel and tone. We're trying to enthral an audience for 90 minutes, not just 3 or 10, so you've really got to know how the scenes fit into the story as a whole: how the scenes are building to key points of the film, which details are essential to emphasise etc. We were really ambitious with the scale of the film too. It's a lot of locations, lots of actors. You need to balance wrangling this sprawling production while making sure that you're making the right creative decisions for the film as a whole.
Production Company Website: www.acamasvideo.com
Prod. Instagram: @acamasvideo
Prod. Twitter: @acamasvideo
Film Instagram: @futuresoldiermovie
Film Twitter: @futuresolmovie
Director's Instagram: @edstrikesagain
Director's IMDB: Click Here