Spending Time With…Keir Burrows ( @keirburrows )

Writer-director Keir Burrow’s critically acclaimed sci-fi masterpiece “Anti Matter” hits theaters and VOD this September from Uncork’d Entertainment.

Experience “art-house psychological horror at its finest” (MovieCrypt.com) in a “stylish and intriguing” (Shadows on the Wall) take on “Alice in Wonderland”.

Ana, an Oxford PhD student finds herself unable to build new memories following an experiment to generate and travel through a wormhole. The story follows her increasingly desperate efforts to understand what happened, and to find out who – or what – is behind the rising horror in her life.

Featuring a cast “anchored by a strong performance from Yaiza Figueroa” (Eye for Film), “AntiMatter” is a “taut thriller that should appeal to both hard sci-fi fans and those who don’t know their wormholes from their warp drives” (One Room With a View).

FromPage2Screen managed to ‘snag’ this conversation with writer-director Keir Burrow’s and fire a few questions at the man himself .

 

Is there any interesting story about how the movie came about?

Hey, thanks for having me on. Anti Matter started out as a short film script called Worm that I wrote around 2011. A couple years later I turned it into a feature, then spent another couple years developing the script. We began filming end of 2014. Taking advice from Chris Nolan and the way he made his first film, Following, we broke the shoot up into a dozen small chunks – so we shot over almost a year, doing a day here, a weekend there. We did one big block, 13 days, for all the lab stuff. So the most interesting thing perhaps is how damn long it took – began writing it in 2011, began filming in 2014, it’s out in cinemas end of 2017.

Was doing a film of this type a long-time goal of yours? It right up your alley as far as taste goes?

 

Hmm, I don’t know. It is right up my ally, definitely – I really do like my own movie, I enjoy watching it over and over. Pat myself on the back during the best bits. So yeah, making something like this was definitely a long-time goal, not necessarily the sci-fi (which I love but it wasn’t sci-fi I swore would be my first movie), but it was telling a story that did more than entertain, that made people think.

Did it change much between draft and shooting script?

 

Oh hell yes. Of course. I couldn’t even tell you how many drafts there were. Forty? Fifty? Including three or four MAJOR rewrites. I think one of the reasons big Hollywood films are often not five-star films is they don’t have the time to spend in the writing stage. Ideas need to percolate, y’know? It’s not possible to just come up with all the good stuff in one sitting. It’ll be 6 months after writing the first draft of a script and I’ll be sitting in traffic or something and get a eureka moment – this is the thing that needs to change to turn good into great. I mean my main character in draft one was an English guy called Tim. By the shooting script it was a Puerto Rican woman called Ana.

 

How close to the character on the page were the actors you chose to play the parts?

Good question. I mean when you’re casting, you cast for someone who will bring a lot of themselves to the role. You have to, and that’s the way to create great characters. You’re not giving the actor someone alien to inhabit, you’re telling them – this is you, as if you were a quantum physics student who has no memories. Or whatever.

Anyone in particular that was exactly their character?

No, not exactly. Again, you cast right – Philippa Carson, who plays Liv, she’s amazing, a natural comedic talent, and in the film we channelled that into this intense, twisted math genius-type, and it worked very well. Finding actors who can do comedy is great because they can channel that energy and so you’ll have interesting characters. But she’s not mad like Liv is.

How do you get actors psyched up, scared and in-character? Any particular direction you gave them on this one?

So I’m a believer in giving actors things to think about, rather than instructions. ‘Turn it up to 10’ is awful direction for an actor. But ‘I want you to think, over and over and over – I’m going to die I’m going to die I’m going to die’, you give them that thought to repeat loud in their mind, and everything else, every line they speak, every step they take, will reek of that fear. Now that’s a very simplistic example. Thoughts can be more complicated than that. But give actors thoughts, not instructions. Music is also very useful. Get actors to chose their own sad music and before a sad scene get them to isolate themselves and listen to it, get them away from the frantic set.

 

Does every movie, even a film of this type, have a message?

No, many movies are like a rollercoaster, or fireworks. They’re fine and wonderful to watch or experience but there’s no message. And that’s cool, we don’t need a message from everything. But yeah, Anti Matter is very much a message movie – or maybe a question movie is better. It has a lot to say, in theory anyway.

How did you pitch the film to distributors? What do you think appealed to them about taking this on?

We pitched it as a sci-fi thriller with horror tones, a take on the Alice in Wonderland tale. I don’t know – I hope they chose it because it’s a decent movie, it has a reasonably clear target audience, and it’s fun. It’s entertaining.

In terms of the story, was researched involved?

Yes, ha. It’s a story about science, the science isn’t just a setting, it’s integral to the story, physics and chemistry and quantum theory. Yeah. Lol. I read so, so much on the subjects I was writing about, I was terrified about drafting something in this world and for a high school chemist to say, this is bollocks. I mean it’s fiction, it is nonsense, but it has to pass muster.

Are you going to stick to this genre? Or shaking it up next?

No I’ll try other things. I have a number of projects, quite a few finished scripts I’m in various stages of development or talks over. A horror, proper old-school creaking floorboards and misty woods monster movie. Then a drama, with a slight sci-fi angle I suppose, but it’s a very poetic thing, my Terence Malick piece. A couple other things. It’s looking quite good, so here’s hoping – but I’m not naïve, it could easily take 5 years to get the next thing made, it happens. Wish us luck!

Where can we see it?  What should we eat while watching it?

It comes out 8 September I think, in theatres and on VOD, then on DVD and Blu-Ray later in the year. And what should you eat? Pizza. Pizza and a beer. Kick back and enjoy it, it’s fun.

 

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