Marking her debut narrative short, Los Angeles based Director Kylie Eaton embraces a long held passion for fantasy, science fiction, and all things other-worldly with emotional, low-key sci-fi film 43 QUINTILLION, the story of a grieving woman’s journey through her beloved’s past as she looks for a way to move forward with her life. As part of 43 QUINTILLION’s Directors Notes premiere, we invited Kylie to share the inspiration and production journey behind this story of grief and endless possibilities.
The concept for 43 QUINTILLION came to me in two parts. Firstly, I had the urge within me to tell a story about grief – not death, necessarily, but the difficulty of moving from one stage of life to the next, of choosing to leave old things behind and move forward. The story cemented itself one day as I looked at a Rubik’s cube and wondered to myself how many possible combinations there were. After posing my question to Google, the answer – 43 QUINTILLION – was a number too big to imagine. A number that may as well be infinity. With that many possibilities, one could travel anywhere in time and space – or memory. And with that, the idea for the film was born.
I had the urge within me to tell a story about grief – not death, necessarily, but the difficulty of moving from one stage of life to the next.
As a filmmaker with an editing background, I was excited to have a device – the cube – with which to transport our viewer between moments in the film’s journey. I didn’t want to use any visual effects and instead worked throughout the process to create images and frames that were graphically matched for effective transitions.
The endless possibility of the cube gave me freedom as a filmmaker. One day of filming was just myself, my cinematographer, and my main actress, Sarah, in the car, driving around and finding places that felt right to the story, places that called back to the memory box and spoke truth about where Matt may have gone in his life.
I also wanted to ensure that we never lost the emotional thread of the story. I was fortunate to have Sarah Drescher (“Jessica”) on board. She is an incredibly talented actress and had to carry most of the film in scenes by herself. I wanted to give her moments to explore the story, and so much of what ended up in the film were great moments of honesty that she found on set. When we filmed the scene with Matt, it was such a treat to see the actors work together. Jeffrey Conway brings all the warmth and depth I was hoping to find in Matt.
The endless possibility of the cube gave me freedom as a filmmaker.
On the technical end of things, the entire process, from concept through final output took about three months. We shot on an Alexa Mini, using some handheld, some Movi, some sticks – all reflective of Jessica’s perspective.
The editing phase was really fun, and I let the process take its time. We had so many beautiful moments captured by our Cinematographer, Eric Ulbrich, that it was difficult to cut everything down. But in the end, as it always must, the moments that served the story were clear.
The final part of the process was the score – created by my dear friend and talented musician, Valen. It still can bring tears to my eyes after hearing it hundreds of times, and perfectly reflects the emotional arc of the film.
The entire process of 43 QUINTILLION, from the first seed of an idea, through its festival run, has been an amazing experience as a filmmaker. I’ve grown and learned from the process and had the joy of watching and hearing people’s reactions to my work.
This film is one of the many great projects shared with the Directors Notes Programmers through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them submit your film.