After a wild run at London’s FrightFest, the VOLITION buzz is gaining momentum, as reviews come in:
★★★★★ “Volition is an exceptional genre flick with a shit ton of ideas and the limitless heart to express them in a way that charms rather than bulldozes.” —The People’s Movies
“Tony Dean Smith expertly keeps many story plates spinning in order to combine the pace of the crime thriller in progress with the sci-fi mystery VOLITION reveals itself to be. When the fragmented pieces of truth he’s given you begin to fit together the cerebral slight of hand of the Smith brothers script come into their own a la COHERENCE or THE INVITATION. You’ll feel smarter for the experience of watching it.” —Britflicks
“As the Smith Brothers work their way through this paradoxical conundrum, the result is Volition itself, an ingenious product as much of optimistic will as of entrapping design, with a miraculous, impossible ending.” — SciFi Now Magazine
“Winner of the best feature award at The Philip K. Dick Film Festival, where it fittingly made its world premiere earlier this year, director Tony Dean Smith’s Canadian indie gem (written by him and his brother, Ryan W. Smith) thrives not only on an enthralling, fast-paced narrative but also on the chemistry of its two stars, McMorran and Apanowicz, who you’re compelled to root for from the get-go. A no lesser contribution from Bill Marchant as James’ foster father completes the all-Canadian cast.” —HorrorDNA
“Thematically Volition is a rich and diverting experience, with moral and ethical conundrums orbiting the central concept of the pliability of fate. The choices finally made by the likeable James, as he seeks to break from the white knuckle grip of inevitability, are compelling and unexpectedly moving.” — The People’s Movies
“[A] script that borders on perfection stands out. The Smith brothers (Tony Dean, Ryan W.) have undoubtedly found a way to intrigue the viewer, leave him stunned, make him open his eyes wide and end up wishing for light in the thick plot with characters drawn to perfection… Apart from all this, it highlights the way it is shot. The director, Tony Dean Smith, opts for doing it in a murky way, alternating the action, in meritorious close-ups, with moments of necessary pause to digest everything.” —TerrorWeekend
“[I]t has you continuously guessing where everything is heading while never throwing in a twist just for the sake of it. As you keep watching, each step seems logical and will keep you glued to your seat.” —Nerdly
“The story is the key to Volition‘s success. Sibling duo Tony Dean Smith (who also directs) and Ryan W. Smith have clearly spent a lot of time and effort trying to achieve the perfect balance of several elements. All of their hard work pays off, and it’s a very special moment once the penny drops as to what is really going on. One that demonstrates the duo’s writing talents, and great promise for future projects. Visually, Volition has echoes of early David Fincher; think Seven meets The Game, as well as Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys. The style adds a layer of gritty realism to the film, helping to make it a grounded science-fiction story such as Looper and The Terminator.” —The Hollywood News
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With London’s FrightFest wrapped along side New York’s Buffalo Dream Fantastic Film Festival, VOLITION has walked away with more honors! VOLITION took home the BEST SCREENPLAY AWARD at Buffalo Dreams. Meanwhile, the film’s lead, Adrian Glynn McMorran, is sitting pretty alongside Elijah Wood as a nominee for BEST ACTOR in Total Film’s Best of FrightFest Awards. Congrats to all!
London calling! VOLITION has been officially selected to screen at London’s most epic genre festival, the legendary FrightFest! The film will play on August 24th at Leicester Square in the bustling West End. For tickets and festival info., visiting the FrightFest site. We hope to see you there!
After an incredible packed screening at Rome’s Ostia International Film Festival, VOLITION returned home with two big wins! Congratulations to our Director, Tony Dean Smith, on his BEST DIRECTOR WIN and to our lead actor, Adrian Glynn McMorran, on his BEST ACTOR WIN! We’re honored to have played to a wonderful Italian audience and we so appreciate all that the Ostia team did to make the festival a success! Viva L’Italia!
The good people at Recursor.TV shared the story of VOLITION’s path to production in their INDIE SPOTLIGHT section. Excerpt below. For full article, visit Recursor.TV.
INDIE SPOLIGHT: THE MAKERS OF VOLITION
Written by Michele Chiappetta for Recursor.TV
A man afflicted with clairvoyance attempts to change his fate after experiencing a pre-sentient vision of his own imminent murder. That’s the premise of the award-winning indie sci-fi feature film VOLITION. Starring Adrian Glynn McMorran (Supernatural, Smallville, Arrow), Magda Apanowicz (Caprica, KyleXY, You), Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing, Continuum) and others, the film is winning awards at festivals and making a splash. The makers of VOLITION, brothers Tony Dean Smith (director, co-writer) and Ryan W. Smith (co-writer), are enjoying the results of their hard work.
Both brothers loved science fiction at an early age. “I was always fascinated by TWILIGHT ZONE and ET,” says Tony.
“As the younger brother, I was definitely guided by Tony’s tastes early on,” says Ryan. He cites classics like Spielberg, Amblin, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS — “popcorny sci-fi,” he calls it. He, in turn, introduced his older brother to books like Childhood’s Endby Arthur C. Clarke.
Their love of filmmaking started at a young age too. The brothers made short films during vacations with their family, using their father’s video camera. “I knew I loved cameras and telling stories, loved making ghost stories, that were all esoteric,” Tony says.
“As we grew, we started making more films,” adds Ryan. “We both got involved in theater and acting, which is the most accessible form of storytelling at a certain age. Later, we both built careers in the film industry. VOLITION is the combination of so many years of us collaborating.”
The subject of VOLITION is strongly influenced by the brothers’ interest in “the existential debate of fate versus free-will,” as they put it. “We’re really driven by sci-fi that asks questions about society, societal issues and structures,” says Tony. “While we love all sci-fi, we really love movies that are grounded and ask questions about why we are here.”
Ryan agrees, citing EX MACHINA as an example: “We’re both loving Alex Garland’s work (SUNSHINE, EX MACHINA, ANNIHILATION, among other films), grounded works that say something about the human condition.” In addition, he and Tony point to the works of Philip K. Dick and Terry Gilliam as other sources of influences in their storytelling and filmmaking approach.
Beyond their love for sci-fi, the Smiths simply decided it was time to commit to their dream to make something feature-length, which is no small undertaking.
“We would have this ongoing conversation: ‘When are we going to make a feature?’ It was almost like, is this ever going to happen?” they say. “Eventually, we said, ‘We’re not going to wait for someone else to give us permission. We’re going to do it ourselves.’ It’s amazing the traction that comes off that decision.”
Of course, creating an indie sci-fi feature involves a lot of blood, sweat and tears. “We’ve done TV shows and editing,” says Tony. “But I don’t think anything could really prepare us for the making of VOLITION.” To help the process, the brothers made it a true family undertaking, involving one sister as assistant director, another as caterer.
In terms of funding, which is a challenge for most indie films, the Smiths were fortunate. “We ended up securing private financing by shopping it around,” says Ryan. “They gave us free reign and gave us creative vision.” Like many indie filmmakers, the Smith brothers called on friends in the industry and people who were passionate about the script and the project to help.
Then, of course, there were the challenges involved in planning the logistics, which can be especially challenging with indie films. Working with everyone’s schedules wasn’t easy, and at least one of the actors almost couldn’t do it because of other commitments.
“We knew going in that the movie was going to be incredibly tricky to coordinate,” Tony says. “We had 18 days to shoot, and we needed at least 25. I got so exhausted by the prep, even before we started filming. Then there were the logistics of the shoot — some scenes, you’re seeing from multiple perspectives, and we had to film them at the same time. Amazingly, we had good weather for 18 days, which was key because we needed everything to look the same. It was so gratifying to see the whole thing come together.”
Some of that gratification has come from the audience reaction to the film, which has been positive. VOLITION has already garnered festival wins — Best Featureat the Philip K. Dick Film Festival, and both Best Sci-Fi Film and Best Screenplay at the Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival.
“We had a vision for something, but for it to resonate with people, it’s very gratifying,” the brothers say. “We got a review from Wolf of Geek Street— it’s the greatest praise we could ever hope for. He likened VOLITION to the film INCEPTION, but with a Robert Rodriguez gritty feel. That is what we were going for. Responses like that have given us encouragement to continue to take risks.”
In terms of the future, the Smiths are looking forward to showing VOLITION at other festivals. And they also have other projects in the work, including a movie inspired by their grandfather, who was a magician. “It’s a touching movie about letting go, magic, being present, and all sorts of things we love.”
Italy, here we come! VOLITION’s European Premiere will take place in Rome, at the OSTIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL! We screen at 9:30 pm at the Cineland di Ostia. Friends, Romans, Countrymen, if you’re a fan of cerebral science-fiction, please join us. More exciting European festival news still to come, so stay tuned!
The Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival has just wrapped up and what a festival it was! VOLITION played to a packed theater and walked away with TWO of the festival’s TOP PRIZES. The cerebral science-fiction feature won for BEST SCI-FI/HORROR FILM and for BEST FEATURE SCREENPLAY! To top things off, VOLITION was nominated in an impressive seven categories, including BEST DIRECTION: Tony Dean Smith, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Byron Kopman, BEST ACTOR: Adrian Glynn McMorran, and BEST ACTRESS: Magda Apanowicz. A huge thank you to the Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival for their fantastic festival and warm hospitality!
For full list of winners and nominees, see the JTIFF site!
Special thank you to Sci-Fi Fiesta (a Top 30 Science Fiction Blog) for their glowing review of VOLITION! Reviewer Christopher Christoploulos had this to say about the film:
“Volition is a compelling sci-fi film that will grab and hold fast your attention from the start through to the very end. It deals with themes we are familiar with in science fiction: time travel and notions of free will vs destiny and Fate. Instead of finding ourselves along with the characters stuck in the usual endless temporal loop, the action rapidly moves between time periods in a novel and interesting way. The essential clues are there and do make sense and not everything is necessarily what it seems.
The actors give very competent and strong performances and you’ll find yourself thinking for each one, “I’ve see that actor before.” Chances are you’ve probably seen them in a number of roles in many other fine films and series.
Volition works well not just as faced-paced entertainment but also on the cerebral level as it forces us to consider aspects of own existence: To what extent are our lives and indeed our possible futures determined by the choices we make and the free will we exercise? OR Is free will just an illusion and are we merely playing roles that have been predetermined along the road towards a fate that is set in stone?”
For the full review, see the Sci-Fi Fiesta Site!