Question: Did you always have an interest in sci-fi? Is it something that you do regardless of working at Panavision (where William had earlier worked with cameras as a technician)?
Answer: William Eubank: Yeah… I was really into Twilight Zone, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King and [similar] stuff growing up. I don’t know if I was specifically into sci-fi. I guess, I like crazy ideas and often those crazy ideas can take place on the stage of science fiction. The universe is a very big place and whatever we do, from story perspective, it just seems like there so much possibility. Umm... when you get to science fiction the stage becomes so gigantic, that it’s really fun to contrast that against a simple story. [Takes a pause] I guess I never really thought about it. Both my films (Love & The Signal) at this point are science fiction, so I guess I’m science fiction so far.
Q: So, what was the inspiration behind The Signal?
A: When you go for a movie that is about Area 51 or something similar, and you already have put the story into a box. I wanted to dabble into a movie that had something to do with unknown government stuff and things that really don’t tell you where we were gonna go with the movie, so that when you find out about those things later, or are being offered little bits of information, you go…. “Whoa!! That’s interesting” and “Is this movie about THAT!” I like making movies where you define them later in the game than earlier in the game. So, I had the end game in mind, where I wanted the movie to go and the characters I wanted. And at that point it was only about allowing the characters to do what they were gonna do. So, I wanted to do a film that offered what it was, during the film as opposed to before the film… I’m not even sure if it makes any sense!
Q: Yes, it does ... And you had the freedom to really make the end result that you wanted?
Q: Did you have to scale back on any of your effects or ambitions?
A: No … Like I said, you always have this box where you have the days you can shoot and the budget. There is definitely a period where as a filmmaker you have to come to terms with that and quickly make choices. I always feel like that when you are a writer-director, before you start directing, there’s this whole phase of storyboarding.
*After a short distraction over strange voices from nearby room…*
So, I have this book that I work with and I basically break the entire script down, shot by shot and write and draw in it. So by the time I’m shooting and I don’t know what I’m doing, I just look into the book and “Oh! There it is. This is what I’m supposed to do!”
Q: Would it be incorrect to assume that there is a sort of graphic novel like feel to it, kind of like an anime?
A: Yeah, I’m a huge anime fan! A lot of people say it [The Signal] is Akira, but it’s not Akira by any means … [Jokes…] though it’s definitely like “there’s a guy in hospital gown and he is screaming a lot.
*We pass a few chuckles too*
It’s funny. I like to shoot in ways that pay homage to …. Like the way Scotts [Scott Pilgrim comics] have always used lines and color and there’s this really cool tight gritty stuff. But when it comes to action, you don’t really have money to shoot and try to figure out how to make it impactful, so I try to make it graphic novel-esque. With anime, from an editing perspective, they are really lean and yet so intense. So they use these editing techniques, like pacing and ins-and-outs to almost intensify action without that many shots. So I like to study that a lot, because at an indie level when you are trying to go big, I think the answer to that is in anime.
Q: I noticed you had this beautiful kind of flashbacks that could be from different film entirely in contrast to the starkness of bleak facility. So where did you get the visual style of the film?
A: Yeah. The film has a three course of actions. You have the opening which I wanted to feel very organic and real. I want to say that I tend to shoot whatever is best for the feeling, photography wise. Strange reference: but Nick has always said that “whatever you do, always shoot the best shot you can for the moment”, which I have always taken to the heart. The second part of the film: I wanted it to feel contained and emotionally truncated. And then the third part to be like a breakout and something where you run free.
Q: You had a good experience as a cinematographer, so while filming “The Signal”, did you ever feel the urge to get behind the camera?
A: Well, I’m always kind of picky about certain types of lenses and few shots and I’m always learning. I might switch it up a bit next time. But the answer to that is, I got cinematographer David Lanzenberg and he is the sweetest guy in the world, he is a dude, and everything was so collaborative. Some cinematographers, when you meet with them and they know you come from a cinematography background, they say “Look if I’m going to work with you, you need to give me my space!” and I would say “Ok, I’m not gonna hire you!” [Laughs …] but David was “Hey man, I’ve seen your work and your work is beautiful, I can’t wait to work with you … let’s keep an open dialogue”. David is one of the people eager to say “Hey, we are like a two headed monster, visually, so let’s put that to work and be more of a titan”. So it was really cool and David is a really good cinematographer. And sometimes I have suggestions, but David was open to them.
*Then we get the final warning, “Last question guys”*
Q: Do you know what your next project is going to be?
A: I’m working on a bunch of stuff. I have three things in the works right now, not sure which one will end up being next. And I’m writing a project with my brother, Carlyle Eubank, and David Frigerio, the other writer from this film and one other project with British writer…
Q: So, we are seeing the rise of the “Eubank Brothers”…
A: [Laughs] Hopefully! Hopefully!