In indie filmmaker Bradley King”s Santa Monica, Calif. office, Legos cover the desks, and multi-colored index cards line the walls.
They”re both tools for King and his writing partner, BP Cooper, to map out their screenplays. The indie filmmaking duo has a new sci-fi movie in theaters this Friday called “Time Lapse.”
The index cards – complete with yarn connecting each plot point – is a familiar writing tool, and King and Cooper are using it now for two in-the-works scripts. One wall of their office is also devoted to breaking down the plot of Alfred Hitchcock”s “North by Northwest” for inspiration. The Legos – and their boxes with labels like “minifigs,” “lights” and “vehicles” – are less commonly seen in writers” offices, so let King explain:
“When you”re playing with toys or dolls you don”t have to be like, ‘What”s this character”s motivation?” You just immediately are like, ‘Then he goes over here, and he stabs this guy-” and so on,” King said. “I have this medieval story I was acting out. I would play with Legos for an hour, and it was almost infuriating how easy it was to write.”
The Lego layout of a set for their films also gives King and Cooper a sense of what rooms of a set they could use more.
Both the Legos and the index cards are evidence of a writer who”s very in-tune with the structure and sense of space in his stories. The films that have impacted his work are evidence of that too. Below, read what King had to say about five of the films he mentioned as influences, from Hitchcock to the Wachowski siblings to Edgar Wright.
(To learn more about new movie “Time Lapse,” check out our interview with King here and watch the trailer above.)
“North by Northwest”
“It did such a good job of making us sympathize with a character. Obviously it”s well-structured, and there”s a lot of iconic shots in it. I feel like a lot of filmmakers just don”t do the work they need to really care about the lead character. And if they would do that then you have a lot more leeway to screw up in your plot later. But if you don”t do it, you”re going to have a great plot but people walk away just not as thrilled or they won”t have been as touched because they weren”t as emotionally engaged. That movie did a great job of really making me sympathize with that guy. That”s kind of astonishing because he”s so unlike me. I think he”s like an ad executive in New York and he”s like kind of superficial in the beginning and he”s like womanizing and it”s like maybe that guy is super likeable to me. And then I got to watch him change. That”s the other thing. From, in fact honestly most of the ones that I think I”m a big fan of do a successful job of showing somebody actually change from something not necessarily bad or inferior but just – I don”t know, from a state of an unfulfilled life to a state of a more fulfilled life or an actualized person. And again it took this New York ad executive and turned him kind of into a spy by the end of the movie, you know, in a very believable organic way that was just awesome. But there”s other good things I like about it but those are probably the main two that just like always pull me back.”
“I saw it, like, 11 times in the theater. I was like dragging friends to it. I”ve read all of Martin McDonagh”s plays. From what I know, he”s the first playwright since Shakespeare to have four different plays all running in London”s West End at the same time. His plays are amazing. They”re so good. He”s kind of like [Quentin] Tarantino, but usually there”s a real social issue going on [in his work]. So I love Tarantino – I wouldn”t say he never has heart, but Martin McDonagh”s like Tarantino but with heart because there”s like some social or character issue that”s like just really well-handled and develops really beautifully in the context of often intense violence. Almost absurd violence, like the Coen brothers manage to pull off where you care, but it”s hilarious, and then you”re mortified, and then you”re gasping, and then you”re laughing again. I aspire to get more in that zone tone-wise. ‘In Bruges” isn”t a movie I could ever make, but tone-wise being able to juggle incredible violence with absurdity, humor and pathos – it”s amazing. It astonishes me.”
“‘Bound” was the Wachowski brothers” first movie that they directed. I had pretty much an entire production management class taught about that movie at [what is now called Colorado Film School]. The producer [professor] just emphasized how economically written it was. It was very, very smartly written. It feels a very big movie, but it”s two apartments basically and then a few exteriors. As an aspiring indie filmmaker, it just got hammered into me how well they thought out what they could get out of such a small space. I watched that and studied that a ton in my 20s.”
“My very first business was a sculpture business that I ran with my brother, and we had this little factory and we would come in to work in the morning we would turn on ‘Total Recall,” and we wore through probably like two VHS tapes of ‘Total Recall” because we would watch it all day long. It is a guilty pleasure. However, I will get in fierce arguments with people about actually how well written it is. Structurally, it is super-duper solid in terms of setups and payoffs. It takes a terrible trope – the amnesia movie – and just does something totally badass with it. Watching a character change from a lowly construction worker at the beginning of the movie to a believable kind of badass – it captivated me as a kid. I still love it. I will never be able to separate how much of my captivation was my childhood appreciation for it, but I think I can at least I have good standing in an argument for why the script is actually pretty good.”
“I have people make fun of me for this, but I swear to you, Edgar Wright – apparently when he”s writing with Simon Pegg – a master of setups and payoffs. And that”s not just comedy either. He has dramatic setups and payoffs. That movie Hot Fuzz has like a thousand. I haven”t gone through and counted them, but it”s insane. Every single thing that someone says or does eventually comes back around later as a joke or a plot point or whatever and it”s just mind-boggling. My brain explodes every time I watch that movie.”
“Time Lapse” opens for a limited theatrical release on Friday, May 15 and is also available on iTunes, Vudu, Google Play and VOD.