I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the creature feature flicks from the ’50s. Ever since I saw the giant ants in Them! I was hooked.
Part of that love is what intrigued me about the upcoming film, It Came From Yesterday. With a heavy dose of nostalgia, and some modern cinematic improvements, Jeff Waltrowski presents a love letter to a style of film that dates back to the golden age of cinema. With the film gearing up for release in 2013, coupled with my love for independent cinema, it seemed like the right time to bring Jeff onto the blog to talk about his film.
1) It Came From Yesterday is clearly an homage to the old-time creature films. What is it about that genre that motivated you to make your movie?
I always saw that time of the ’50s as the birth of sci-fi in cinema. Sure sci-fi had been around for a long time before that, even in film, but the ’50s is really when it came into its own. The serials were dying off and giving way to the features that were trying to support that young audience. At the same time, filmmakers were beginning to take full advantage of the idea that sci-fi is best when it’s used as an allegory for the times. Films like The Day the Earth Stood Still and even Teenagers from Outer Space, under the surface, were all about the Red Scare. On television, Rod Serling was even using The Twilight Zone to discuss all aspects of the human condition. Given all of that, the genre films of that period always had a sense of wonder about them. There was an awe and a spectacle and even a message of hope. When Klaatu went to warn the people of Earth about our destructive ways, deep in his heart he saw the good in people and that showed through in the film.
ICFY is not only trying to recapture that era and those themes, but also the era of the serials from the ’30s and ’40s. As I mentioned earlier, there was a segue from the serials to the sci-fi films of the ’50s. The serials were no longer financially successful in the early ’50s as television was on the rise. I always saw that the death of the cliffhanger paved the way for the success of the B-movie. Studios were trying to present that same sense of adventure to younger audiences, but now in a feature format. ICFY comments on that transition. The story takes place primarily in 1947 and there is a definite sense of change in the air. The days of Buster Crabbe and the patriotic, bare knuckle swashbuckler are coming to close and suspicion and doubt are becoming more prominent as the world is threatened by more unexplained phenomena. Everything from the villains that our hero faces to the way the government reacts to him are in a state of flux. While this may not be the the main thrust of the story, it is characteristic of the world the story takes place in and it was the kernel that the idea sprang from. In the end, my goal was to tell a story that was thrilling, comedic, and all the while had a sense of emotional resonance for our characters. Shrouding it in the vernacular of old school sci-fi and adventure really made a lot of sense for me to tell a fun story and put in all the themes and concepts I wanted to discuss without being too literal about it.
It Came From Yesterday movie poster
2) If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
This may be the hardest question that I have ever been asked. I am gonna have to go with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It may not be my favorite film (it is up there though), but I can’t remember a film that captivated me more and was more thrilling than TWOK. I was just a little kid when it was released, but sitting in the theater and seeing that Ceti Eel crawl into Chekov’s ear is one of my earliest memories of the cinema. That movie, that had a budget of $12 million dollars (which was still modest for that time), is more engaging and more dramatic than any $200 million dollar blockbuster that has ever been released. I could watch it time and time again and still be moved by it. Even if Chekov’s ear does look a little fake.
Still from It Came From Yesterday
3) Even though It Came From Yesterday is a nod to the creature-features of yesteryear, you used VFX and green screen for the film. With the recent news about the VFX House snubs at the Oscars, and several house’s financial woes, I’m curious what your opinions are on the matter?
I didn’t get to see Bill Westenhofer’s speech get cut off, but I read about it the next day. It was unfortunate that he didn’t get to say his peace, even though they cut him off after what seems like a short amount of time. The academy has never given proper respect to the technicians nor to genre films in general. Practically every advancement in film making can be attributed to a genre film and a lot of those advancements are in the field of special and visual effects. But society sees the stars as what’s important about film and the academy wants to focus on that and they want to focus on the razzle dazzle of Hollywood. So of course they’re gonna cut off the guy who sits at a computer making CG fish fly into a canoe as he brings up something negative about an aspect of the industry that no one really understands. It’s terrible, but that’s the way the industry works.
Now with VFX houses facing financial woes, do I have a solution? No. It’s becoming cheaper and cheaper to farm it out oversees than to deal with the big four houses here in the States. Do those US artists deserve to get paid well? Of course. Do they get paid too much? Probably. Are they going to be willing to be paid less in order to lower their costs? Hell no. Studios will spare no expense for their star, but they will get everything else dirt cheap. This is also terrible, but it’s also how it is.
4) Now that the distribution is worked out, when can folks expect to see the movie? What can they expect from It Came From Yesterday?
Yesterday‘s day is coming very soon. Currently Panorama Entertainment is submitting the film to the festival circuit. Along with this, we’re formulating plans for a limited theatrical release followed by video and digital in the fall. It’s been a long time coming for us and I couldn’t be happier that we ended up with Panorama. This is a company that really believes in this property and their filmmakers in general. And I cannot wait for ICFY to find its audience. This is a film that I would want to watch just as a fan of sci-fi and as a fan of adventure. On the surface, it’s high camp, but as you look closer, it’s go a strong story and characters with hearts of gold. We’re not spoofing the genre. This is a new and compelling story that uses the conventions of the silver era of sci-fi to engage the viewer. To find out news on the release as it happens be sure to follow ICFY at www.facebook.com/itcamefromyesterday and on our website at www.itcamefromyesterday.com
5) What’s next for you?
Along with promoting ICFY, I’m itching to get back behind and in front of the camera. And I’m excited about what ICFY will do once it’s out there in the world. I have two features that I’m currently developing and both seem like dream projects for me. My goal as a filmmaker is to make the film people tell me I can’t make. Whether, it’s too complicated, too technical, too expensive, too this, too that. I want to live in that space where I’m constantly challenging myself not only technically, but as a storyteller, as an actor, as a writer, as a director. And I want to surprise audiences. I think ICFY does that. Just wait for what’s next.