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!
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.”
With VOLITION a feature presentation at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival this weekend, a new teaser trailer has been dropped. Without dialogue, the trailer’s pounding score (composed by Matthew Rogers) matches its dynamic images. Little of the plot is revealed. More to come as the film continues its festival run!
Wolf of Geek Street.com has reviewed the Phoenix Film Festival‘s screening of VOLITION, and the praise is high! Reviewer Zach Pope likened the film to a Robert Rodriguez-style mix of Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION with Rian Johnson’s LOOPER. For the full review, see below!
WOLF OF GEEK STREET — “VOLITION”: The Next Generation Filmmaker
Picture Robert Rodriguez creating his own version of Inception mixed with Looper. You get the low budget feel without it feeling in the way of the storytelling and entertainment level. Plus you get the Sci-Fi doozie that brings you on a journey, unlike many other stories. Volition an independent Sci-Fi film does just that.
Volition is from director Tony Dean Smith and written by him and his brother Ryan W. Smith. The story is about a man who is afflicted with clairvoyance and tries to change fate when a series of events leads to a vision of his own murder. This trippy story starts out with this fun premise and takes it to you on a ride. While not having the high octane action that many Sci-Fi films have today, the vision of this movie trades in the action for more of a character piece and dealing with what is truly going on and trust me there is more than truly meets the eye. I had this weird feeling like watching this movie that I could see where it was truly going to go. Until an hour in a certain twist unlike a lot of other films in this genre takes and really turns the audience for a spin. Which at this point is where the film truly had me in its grips.
This twist of the plot makes for you to have more fun and think about every course of action earlier in the story that seemed off or weird. It even opens up certain story plots that you were curious about. It was a smart way to play with this genre in a way that I hadn’t seen in a while. Volition is the creative film of the Phoenix Film Festival, it truly is something that you have not seen before. For an independent film like this, it truly surprised me. Where it starts as another Sci-Fi film with a cool concept but feeling like I had seen this before turns out to be something super smart and on the level of the previous two films I had mentioned up above. Looper and Inception. While I could easily go into some nitpicks for the movie where some of the visual effects weren’t up to par with other films or even some of the dialogue between the characters did at times feel a little off. It’s hard to deny how much passion went into the elements of this film that turned it into a super creative fun film that has grit, passion, and even uniqueness all throughout it. Volition is the creative odyssey that you expect and I cannot wait to see where this pair of brilliant individuals take their ideas next.
Review site: wolfofgeekstreet.com
VOLITION’s film festival run continued to build as it played to packed theaters at the Harkins 101 Scottsdale for the Phoenix Film Festival. Each screening was followed by a Q & A period with Director/Co-writer Tony Dean Smith and Co-writer/Producer Ryan W. Smith. The pair also took part in industry panels, with Tony Dean Smith speaking on the director’s panel and Ryan W. Smith speaking for the two of them on the screenwriting panel.
Following this week, the film will be a feature presentation at the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival, with Director/Co-writer Tony Dean Smith in attendance, joined by Director of Photography, Byron Kopman. Check out the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival site for tickets and showtimes!