T7M: Your production house, Artifex Studios, has done visual effects work for an impressive list of genre films and television series, including Almost Human, Continuum, The Man in The High Castle, Wayward Pines, The Core, Apollo 18, and Childhood’s End. What would you say is your overall creative philosophy when it comes to producing visual effects?
AS: I’m quite proud of the work Artifex has accomplished over the years. From a creative philosophy perspective, we try to do our absolute best to contribute as storytellers… looking at our work as a contribution to the whole. That’s not always easy or possible – painting out a wire doesn’t feel like storytelling – but we do our best! We endeavor to treat every VFX shot with the highest level of work and quality we can provide. We don’t let material leave the building until we feel we’ve done our best to at the least, execute the creative vision/requests of the director or producers.
T7M: As well as being a visual effects producer, you are also a classically trained musician. Who were some of your musical influences?
AS: I love John Williams, Thomas Newman, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Ramin Djawadi, James Newton Howard, many more. Film music aside, I’m a huge fan of Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, Earth Wind and Fire, Chicago, and many, many others.
T7M: You recently have begun branching out and producing your own projects, with the first being the terrific, award-winning, sci-fi short film The Adept. How would you describe its premise?
AS: Thanks for that! Loglines aside, I would describe its premise as follows: A couple, both scientists, are involved in a high-level theoretical physics project. While trying to work a problem at home during dinner, Maddy (Jen Spence) appeals to Ben (Adam Reid) to help her. Ben tries to get her to lay off work, teasing her, and pushes to show her a new card trick – he’s an amateur magician. But while showing the trick, he starts to think about the work problem. The cards suddenly float magically in mid-air, as Ben enters a state where he can literally see the underlying math of the Universe.
T7M: Actors Adam Greydon Reid and Jennifer Spence are wonderful as the two leads in The Adept. How was the casting process? Did you always have those two performers in mind?
AS: I’m a huge fan of both Adam and Jen. The casting process was quite straightforward for The Adept – I looked at actors I had either worked with on shows, or those that I thought might be interesting for the roles. I met Jen working on Continuum in my role as VFX supervisor. I hadn’t met Adam, but he had also worked on the same show, so there was a point of familiarity. We didn’t have any casting sessions for The Adept, I simply reached out to Adam and Jen to see if they might be interested. Thankfully they were!
T7M: You also composed the film’s beautiful musical score. Why do you think music plays such an integral part in our viewing experience - especially when it comes to science fiction and genre films?
AS: I read a quote recently from James Cameron that the score is the heartbeat of the film. I couldn’t agree more. In many ways music gives us the means to create the strongest emotional “landmarks” for the film, evoking tone and atmosphere in a way nothing else can - while backing up the visuals and performances. It’s amazing watching a cut with and without music, the music makes the story literally come alive to me. I believe this applies to all genres.
T7M: The Adept ended on a BIG cliffhanger. Are you planning on revisiting that world soon? What format would you most want to see the story continue in - another short film, a web series, television series, or full-length feature film?
AS: The Adept had initially been conceived as a small window into the larger world of a television series I had pitched. That series was in development for a while, but as far as I’m aware no longer is. Meanwhile, when the film went online I started receiving interest on developing this story further on its own. I have been working with Adam Reid on continuing The Adept as a feature film.
T7M: Your next independent project is the forthcoming short film FTL (Faster Than Light). How would you describe its premise?