We all have certain patterns which we find ourselves returning to time and time again. Such routines provide a refuge from the inevitable stresses life throws at us. However for Ben, the character at the centre of Kip Kubin’s self-funded, atmospheric short Each Time Again, when as a child he’s shown a machine that can wipe the slate clean he’s freed to repeatedly indulge a deadly ritual with impunity.
Virtually dialogue free and created from the standpoint that audiences are more than capable of engaging with a story on many levels, without the need for hand holding, Each Time Again is a Sci-Fi short with a dark soul. We asked Kip to take us behind the scenes of his Twilight Zone-esque film.
When writer David Malus sent me 5 ideas for comic books I was taken with how easy it would be to film one of the stories, ‘Each Time Again’. At the time I was trying to figure out how to film a period piece from the 1840’s with a modest budget and could not find a way to do it. Being a fan of Sci-Fi and wanting to actually film and finish my first short I started to make ‘Each Time Again’.
The look comes predominantly from mid 60s Lomo Square Front Anamorphic lenses we used on a Red Epic camera. I love classic science fiction films and ‘Solaris‘ is one of my favorites. So I decided to use the same lenses they used for a more vintage but realistic feel. Also, it was important to stop down as much as possible, not just for sharpness, I wanted to achieve a deep deep depth of field. I know that’s not trendy but I wanted to match my eye and make you feel like you were there. A part of that concept was the longer tracking/dolly shot at the start of the film covering 5 rooms and a front porch. I wanted the score and camera motion to increase the suspense until the first stab. The idea was to allow time for the viewer to pick up on clues of their life and ask questions. What’s he setting down when he comes into the house? Where did he come from? Why doesn’t he just call out to find his wife? Why is he so calm after he kills her? Why doesn’t he try to clean up the mess?
USING SOUND NOT PICTURES
When the idea of conveying a washing machine having power enough to bring back life came around I was faced with a lot of choices. Do I rig a light inside the machine? Do I hire an After Effects expert to add some crazy effects? Do I ignore it and just “say” it has power? My decision was to use sound. I turned over all the foley from the laundromat to Tony Miracle of Venus Hum. I asked him to only use those sounds and with the help of tape loops and processing through modular synthesizers create a backdrop that would indicate something supernatural. I’m really happy with the final blending of an ordinary washing machine married with extraordinary sounds to sell the supernatural.
The one advantage in being based out of Nashville Tennessee is you can find musicians to work on your films with ease. I always heard the score as solo cello so I called Matt Slocum of Sixpence Non The Richer and he was excited to be a part of the film. I wanted a score that reflected an eastern European sensibility using only natural elements played by people. Matt chose an ambient drone of guitars and a solo cello overtop. In Scene 2 I had Tony Miracle electronically enhance the score to indicate something unnatural was about to happen, there I wanted machines to take over as happens visually in the film.
Alan Powell and Annie Kearney are professional actors and it shows but Jack Reed was not. The casting of a young boy displaying the signs of an eventual serial killer was the hardest challenge I faced as the director of this short. It was difficult to find an actor or parents that would allow their child to pretend to rip a bird apart and then smear blood on a shirt. Killing and disfiguring animals is a sign of a potential serial killer. My producer got wind of Jack and his desire to be a screen actor. The only catch was that he was moving to Hollywood two days from casting. A poor performance would have tainted the whole film so a lot was riding on Jack’s ability. His talent is evidenced on the screen. No one doubts him. He is a serial killer in the making, not a child actor.
In writing the script I knew I had to change a few things because a film is not a comic book. David’s story was basically an excuse to kill and go to a laundromat. I wanted to explore why and what happens when the tables are turned. In the story Ben kills his wife and uses the washing machine to bring her back. Then he kills her again and when he goes to the laundromat the building is being torn down and he can never revive her.
My idea was to change that slightly by exploring why anyone would kill a loved one and then set up a situation where that person would have to save himself. The change to leave the laundromat in tact was a simple financial one but with great “story” results. I could not hire someone to digitally create a torn down laundromat and I could not afford an additional location fee (finding a building close in size being torn down and usable as a double) so I just wrote that the machine was always there and would continue to be used by others who know of its power, but our story was about this one man.