There’s something about androids, isn’t there? Their metallic bodies, cybernetic components and humanoid appearance capture the attention of sci-fi fans, filling screens with the question of what it means to be human, alive, sentient. There’s a rich tradition of androids in sci-fi, from I ROBOT to BLADE RUNNER to EX MACHINA to WESTWORLD.
And now the short film EXILE by writer/director Mark Freiburger joins that list — a proof of concept featuring actor Jon Huertas in one of the main roles.
You may recognize Freiburger’s name. His 30-second “Fashionista” ad spot, made for $300, beat out 5,000 other filmmakers to win the “Doritos Crash the Super Bowl” contest in 2013. Since then, he’s been mentored by legendary director Michael Bay on TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION, and directed his own award-winning indie feature DOG DAYS OF SUMMER. He also co-wrote the 20th Century Fox released film THE TRIAL.
His sci-fi influences include master writers like Ray Bradbury. “Bradbury would be my favorite writer,” says Freiburger. “My first indie feature, DOG DAYS OF SUMMER, was a bit of a nod to Ray Bradbury and Something Wicked This Way Comes. If you can dig that film up on Amazon or somewhere, keep in mind it’s a very low budget film from a first-time filmmaker trying to figure things out, but you can see where the inspiration came from.”
His filmmaking influences run the gamut, from Truffaut’s FAHRENHEIT 451 to the works of contemporaries like Spielberg and Shyamalan, Ron Howard and Chris Columbus. “But I think as any filmmaker or artist will probably say, we’re influenced by everything in our lives — the people we meet, the places we live and visit, the stories we read, the films we watch.” Out of that mixture of personal experiences and favorite artists comes a filmmaker’s personal style.
EXILE is Freiburger’s first sci-fi film, a proof of concept piece to prove he could direct something in the sci-fi genre and handle VFX. The casting includes Jon Huertas (This Is Us, Castle) as the protagonist’s father. “Fortunately, Jon loved the script because he’s a huge sci-fi fan too. He not only decided to act in the film, but he came on to help produce too, and not just in name only. He helped with the physical production duties and even helped me out with some of the costs of the film when I went over my own budget,” says Freiburger.
Putting out an indie sci-fi film is often an act of faith and passion. And like other filmmakers, Freiburger finds the effort exhilarating. “Directing is exhausting and it’s very hard work, and your heart is constantly getting ripped out of its chest when you’re trying to make something that you truly believe in,” he says. “But at the end of the day, I’ve never been able to do anything else that compares with the feeling I get when all that hard work starts to pay off and you see the story truly come to life on set and then later in the edit suite. It’s addicting.”
You can view EXILE on Recursor.TV.