Icons of Fright Interview With EJECTA/PONTYPOOL Screenwriter Tony Burgess!!

EJECTA_Theatrical_PosterScreenwriter/actor Tony Burgess has done a hell of a job creating a name for himself by writing such unique genre films that really stand out from most others. Films like the awesome PONTYPOOL and the disgustingly surreal, yet completely entertaining SEPTIC MAN, are just two examples of a screenwriter who refuses to be confined by genre cliches and run of of the mill storytelling.

IFC Midnight’s EJECTA (Out now in limited theaters and on VOD)  is yet another great film written by Burgess (review) and it takes the alien abduction subgenre and really gives it an intense and different approach. Burgess was nice enough to chat with Icons of Fright regarding EJECTA, so by all means, read on!


 

I’ve always been enthralled by the Alien invasion/abduction genre and EJECTA really kept me excited from start to finish. Can you tell me how the project came to be?

This project was brought to me by Matt Wiele from Foresight. He wanted to do a found footage alien crash film. We met over several weeks to hash out the idea. It was about a year later that we shot the interrogation stuff which I worked up with Chad Archibald. We loved the found footage stuff we had shot, found it really scary, but we just didnt have enough in the can to build our flick, so we created this extra narrative. Was loads of fun.

It’s great when films of this type bypass the same ol’ approach that so many other films in the genre rely on, the military involved really added to it. What was it about this particular idea that as a write and filmmaker, influenced that decision?

Necessity is the mother and all that. When we did the second structure we really had to draw up a list of how this might work. Everything was possible, and we fell in love with the idea of Lisa being this sadistic functionary of a shadowy paramilitary group. Chad brought his 80’s syfy lights and Julian his A game and we filmed the shit out of it. I was reminded of how the Wizard of Oz went through so many writers, producers and directors and that sometimes if the thinking is nimble enough you can bring the creature to life and with some luck it might dance for you.

While it has the POV, and I’d hate to say “found footage” elements to EJECTA, the film doesn’t rely on that, I love how you continually kept switching from the filming to what is happening right at the time. What was it about that technique that you feel really pushed the story better with that approach?

We had lots of meetings over the ontology of our images. Are they now? Are they someone’s telling us? Are they discovered physical records…all kinds of interesting questions came up about what will a viewer accept and does that viewer need to understand what is present (tense) There are ways to cheat that ad ways to lie about that. The NOW of the film is on a mobius strip. We start and end as if they are the same point in time but if you breakdown the linearity, the end is much further along than the end. We gave ourselves goddish powers.

There’s something almost everyday man-like to Julian Richings’ character, one that while people seemed to have thought of him as a crazy Alien abduction fanatic, I found it very easy to latch onto the character and I feel like that comes from not only Julian’s performance, but in the writing and the directing. When the film was coming together, pre-production wise, was Julian always in your mind?

Yes, we had Julian in mind right from the start I think, and good thing too. His skill and the notes he hits connect everything. Especially the unconnected parts!

The at times BRUTAL secret militarism going on in the film has little compassion for anything outside of what they are looking for, and though it might have been unintentional, I found it incredibly easy to relate to, when it comes to a lot of governmental events that have been going on in the last decade or so. Were the parallels between some political topics and what’s going on in the film something that was done on purpose, or just a coincidence?

Our sense was that this is a rogue department. That it operates, and has always operated as a kind of star chamber was key. And yes that resonates in the real world for sure. Everything from rendering to Snowden to black ops reminds us that our elected leaders rely on the plausibilty of their denials as much as ever.

EJECTA is now in limited theaters and VOD, via IFC Midnight.

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