Director Colin Trevorrow on Safety Not Guaranteed
[Mon 15/10/2012 03:53:27]
By Brendan Swift
A bizarre classified ad, titled ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’, ran in the obscure Backwoods Home Magazine in 1997. Strangely, its call for a time-travelling partner struck a chord with readers and inspired countless memes, discussions and parodies over the years.
But far from enjoying the popularity, the writer behind the classified, John Silveira, was less than ready for the film version when approached by director Colin Trevorrow. “It was a conversation that lasted, on-and-off, for about six months,” he says. “He certainly didn’t trust me right away... ultimately he was actually very supportive but I think he felt, much like the character, he didn’t want us to be making fun of him. And once he saw that we actually respect our characters very much and take them very seriously he evolved in our direction.”
The low-budget film centres on three cynical Seattle magazine employees (Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni) who look for the story behind the ad and discover likable but paranoid supermarket clerk Kenneth (Mark Duplass), who believes he’s solved the riddle of time travel. The film premiered in the US Dramatic Competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and deservedly won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. A tight yet quirky rom-com script and strong performances bring the film to life.
“We actually didn’t have the luxury of rehearsals,” Trevorrow says. “It was a very low-budget film and so we had to just go right at it and trust that we were going to find the truth in these moments while on set.
“We used old cinema lenses from the early-80s that did give the video its own unique look but we really just accepted going in that the movie was going to look rough and scrappy. I didn’t go out of my way to make it look like we had more money than we did. I actually embraced the scale that we were operating at – I think in the end it helped us because it doesn’t feel like we’re fighting our budget.”
The tone is solidly set by the time Kenneth sings an original song – one of Trevorrow’s proudest moments.
“Very rarely anymore is there an original song sung in the context of a film that actually moves the narrative forward. It’s not a musical but it’s a musical moment and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of – it’s kind of retro in itself.
“The movie feels a bit like your time travelling yourself when you watch it because it looks like a print from the '80s that was dragged out of a vault but we did some things they don’t really do in movies anymore.”
Intimacy is something he says is often missing from Hollywood blockbusters unlike rare films such as E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial.
“You can tell a movie where no-one really gave a damn – you can just tell. And you almost prefer one that doesn’t work that well where they clearly tried to do something different... I saw John Carter this year and you can say what you will about whether that movie works or not but I know the people making it really loved that story and really wanted to tell that story. So it’s easier for me to hear an argument about something like Battleship, which felt like something people didn’t care about that much versus something like John Carter – it did have a soul definitely.”
Safety Not Guaranteed is released in cinemas by Rialto on October 18.
Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bcswift.
[Mon 15/10/2012 03:53:27]