Weeks after a mysterious time-compression event violently splices environments from the past into the present, two survivors encounter the foreboding figures responsible for the event and experience firsthand their sinister nature. The Fore-men is an award-winning sci-fi genre, directed by Adrian Bobb.
Adrian Bobb has been drawing and writing about robots, aliens, and monsters, for as long as he can remember. Armed with an ever-increasing skillset and toolset to match, Adrian's enthusiasm to create and design worlds and tell unique stories within them has remained consistent throughout his career.
In the past decade, he has worked at companies such as Ubisoft, Digital Dimension, Rocket Science VFX, Jam Filled Animation, Mr. X, and MARZ VFX, as a matte painter, concept artist, 3D modeler, and Art Director. Through Exocentric Productions, his independent film production company, Adrian has written, produced, and directed short films such as The Carrier (Written/Directed/Produced), a full-length feature entitled Redshift (Written/Produced), a short proof-of-concept film entitled E-X-T (Written/Directed) and another proof-of-concept short sci-fi horror entitled, and "The Fore-men" which debuted at Fantasia in the summer of 2022. In short whether it's with a pencil, a stylus, or a camera, Adrian Bobb is a visual storyteller at heart with a deep drive to share new and engaging stories with audiences of all ages.
How did you start making films and what was the first film project you worked on?
It's been an interesting evolution from drawing (since I could pick up a pencil) to filmmaking (when I would make Matrix fan-films with my friend's camcorder in their backyard as a teenager) but my first official gig in the film industry was as a storyboard artist for the History Channel's The Re-Inventors which was shot in a small city in midwestern Canada where I grew up. I wrote and directed my first short film that year called "For an Eye" which was a film-noir detective story about a shadowy vigilante named Scales. I was proud of that film specifically because I only had a day to shoot it and it took place in two locations, one of which was the perfect sunset on the rooftops of the college dorm building I was living in at the time. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration, I moved to Montreal to work in the videogame industry as a concept artist with my first big job being at Ubisoft Montreal. After a few years working there as well as Digital Dimension, I taught myself the digital programs necessary to make my own VFX for personal projects and moved back to my childhood home of Toronto where I worked on shows such as The Expanse, Killjoys, and Endlings as a VFX Artist/Designer while spending my evenings and weekends writing and building my own personal projects.
What genre of filmmaking are you looking to work on and why?
Science-fiction first and foremost, and horror secondarily. Science-fiction was the beginning of the medium of filmmaking historically and also the genre that made me love film as a kid. I liken the genre in a lot of ways to how kids are fascinated with dinosaurs (which was my gateway drug into the sciences in general). They are mysterious, visually stunning, but unlike dragons, were real. It's that reality that science-fiction is connected to that always fascinated me. It was a genre that told me that robots and aliens were possible, and it was always an inclusive domain. Unlike "non-genre" genres that are busy selling worlds as "true" depictions of reality, sci-fi was always about what could be, and how things might change for better or for worse.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent filmmaker?
Besides finding funding (I'll get into that in a bit!), I'd say "choosing your battles" is the most difficult part at least for me. Independent filmmaking is about wearing a lot of hats... oftentimes, too many hats. For my films, I often, write, direct, storyboard, design, model-build, matte-paint, composite, and create promotional materials (posters, trailers, etc.). That can take a lot out of you and over the years I've started letting go of some of those jobs for the sake of time and sanity. I do appreciate the experience that "doing it all" has given me as it's helped me understand the importance and nuiance involved in every part of the filmmaking process and it has also educated me as a director in terms of communication and the importance of simply "knowing what you want" and having a clear vision for what you want your project to be.
How challenging is it to fund indie films?
There's the usual difficulties in funding indie-films and then there's the difficulties in funding indie-genre-films. In Canada especially, when you apply for film grants, explaining that you want to do science-fiction is a very quick conversation-ender, even more so when you mention the need for any VFX involvement (which I often do myself and with a skeleton crew of independent artists). Add to that, that that there are very few people of color, women, and LGBTQ creators in the genre space in general and I feel you can get a clear picture of just how steep the hill is for a significant portion of Indie filmmakers out there that would love to do more than what historically the industry has allowed them to do. Luckily (or unluckily depending how you look at it) for me the stories I want to tell are new and visually challenging enough that they attract like-minded, supportive, and talented people that help me do a lot with very little. Often when I write a script I'm also doing a lot of the post work early, so by the time I get to set, I know what I need, how long it will take, and what shortcuts are needed to do what should be 50K-100K for 20K-30K.
Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been influential in your work?
First and foremost, James Cameron. His background as a modeller, designer, and visual artist has always been something I admire especially as a Canadian filmmaker with a strong visual arts and design background. Jordan Peele secondly as one of the few filmmakers today whom I feel has great control and understanding over his elements along with an impeccable sense of timing and suspense. And third is a tie (I'm aware that's cheating!) between Christopher Nolan for his use of non-linear filmmaking, and Mike Flannagan for connecting traditional visual horror elements with deep universal and existential horrors that force us to think about why we fear what we fear.
What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?
Currently I'm working on a feature version of "The Fore-men" with the hope of going to camera late next year, writing/directing a couple of horror shorts that will be a part of Season 2 of the Canadian horror anthology series "Creepy Bits", as well as an animated Sci-fi adventure feature called "Rabble Rousers," about an alien revolutionary and a human story-teller taking down an oppressive anthropocentric government.
What was the inspiration behind your latest film project?
I've always been a big science-enthusiast from a young age, and like most kids, my gateway into science was dinosaurs and space. If space taught you just how impossibly big the universe was, then dinosaurs taught you how impossibly old it was. Up till this day I tend to do a lot of thought experiments (adult-speak for "day-dreaming") about what the world must've looked like millions/billions of years prior. What flora/fauna once inhabited the space I'm in right now? A forest in my apartment? An ocean where this highway now sits?
Naturally you then go the opposite way. What will be here millions of years later? Billions of years later?
The Fore-men takes this conceit to its most horrifying conclusion and asks, what if our most darkest, most negative aspects of humanity are carried on millions of years later? And what if our descendants had the power (but no sense of responsibility) to break time's linearity? I imagined the chaos like a glitching videogame, where time becomes a broken landscape of lifeforms long past violently spliced into our present, and at the mercy of a dark and unsympathetic future.
How did you find the cast and the crew of the film?
The crew was for the most part made up of people I've worked with on my previous projects who I've come to trust and work with very well. And for those that were new on the project, they were recommended to me by either the crew members I've worked with before or by one of my producers on the project, Brian Quintero, who I developed a great working relationship with and has a trusted network of indie filmmakers of his own. As for the cast, because we were all in Covid lockdown, we were forced to meet with actors via zoom calls which actually turned out better than I had hoped! We had auditions, readthroughs, and a costume fitting via zoom and didn't actually meet my cast in real life until we got on set! Luckily we had enough back and forth that by the time we were ready to shoot, we knew exactly what we needed to do and despite it being filmed during the lockdown, it was one of the smoothest shoots I've ever been on.
What is the distribution plan of the film and did the film receive any screenings or was it featured in festivals?
We are very early on in our festival run and started with a great world-premier reception at Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, followed by our U.S. premiere at Hollyshorts in Los Angelles at the TCL Chinese Theatre, and our European premiere at Sitges International Film Festival in Barcelona! We still have quite a few more to announce for the rest of the year and for early 2023 but for now my producers Zeus Kontoyannis, Brian Quintero and myself are mostly following it around the globe and making up for the two years of quarantine stuck in front of computer monitors!
Why do you make films and what kind of impact would your work have on the world?
I feel like I make films to understand the world...at least that's my personal unintentional reason. My intentional reason is to hone in on and inspire the kind of awe and fear I get from the world through studying the sciences and travelling in general. I feel like this mix of awe and fear is the kind of emotion very specific to science-fiction that other genres aren't traditionally known for. It's that feeling of being perplexed or overwhelmed but not in an annoying or pretentious kind of way but in a way that challenges you (or simply haunts you after the credits roll) to dig just a little deeper, think about things from a different perspective, and break assumptions that were believed to be unbreakable.
But most importantly I want to make fun mind-game movies for impressionable pre-teens like me that saw The Matrix in theatres opening day and left the theatres questioning everything they ever knew for the rest of their lives.