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EXCL: Strause Bros. Look Up to the Skyline

Directors/writers talk new sci-fi thriller

Looking out the window from the apartment of Greg Strause to the amazing view which overlooks most of downtown Los Angeles is how the director first explains to this Shock writer where the idea for Skyline (the flick he’s co-directing with his brother Colin) came to fruition.

“What if it’s the end of the world right outside your window? And what if you’ve got boxed seats,” asks Greg. “That was really the hook that we started with and then Josh [Cordes] and Liam [O'Donnell] started crafting the story.”

It all began over lunch where the two brothers and two writers got together to hash out a plotline based on this initial concept. “We were really frustrated to see how hard it was for even really big established directors to get a project off the ground. And there’s something really strange about the way the film business works. No one actually owns any of the stuff you would need to make a movie. It’d be like if our visual FX company didn’t own any computers. So, with that mindset, we invested in all our own cameras and equipment. Owning a camera means that I can go at any moment I want and go film stuff.”

“It was that mentality that made us realize we don’t need anyone else to do this,” continues Greg. “Here we are now with a small crew, but with a very ‘can do’ attitude. We want to do more with less and have fun.”

Learning from their previous experience on Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, the Strause brothers are not only shooting the movie independently and completely with all their own gear, but are also in the very apartment complex where Greg lives. (Hence the incredible window view.) “The building is huge,” explains co-director Colin. “It’s an $80 million building. It’s brand new. No one’s ever shot a movie here before. And now, after us, we don’t know if anyone else ever will,” he laughs.

What we’ve heard thus far about the story for Skyline has been fairly vague. But we do know that it involves “a group of party-goers who wake up to discover a mysterious bright light outside. When they investigate the source of the light they start to realize the true scale of the terror that awaits them.” After the crew screens for me the teaser trailer shown at the Berlin Film Festival, along with a few already completed sequences, it’s fairly obvious what exactly that bright light in the sky is that these people are looking up to.

“The whole beginning of the movie is the disappearance of a group of people [into the light],” says Colin. “But that’s only about 10 percent of the movie. You get a third of the way into the movie when shit starts to happen. That’s when the cat is out of the bag.”

Putting two and two together and knowing I’m (understandably) not going to get much details about the latter half of the film considering the filmmaker’s desire for secrecy, I ask if the duo are reuniting with Amalgamated Dynamics who did the Aliens and Predators in their last film. Greg confirms, “Yes. Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis are doing designs for the film.”

In regard to the cast, on-set are Texas Chainsaw remake’s Eric Balfour, Donald Faison from TV’s Scrubs, Scottie Thompson, Crystal Reed (from the upcoming Teen Wolf) and (the even lovelier in person) Brittany Daniel. Which of this gang makes up the “party goers”? Writers Cordes and O’Donnell explain that Donald Faison plays Terry, a former New Yorker, now LA entrepreneur who’s throwing the bash. Flying in from New York is his best friend Jarrod (Balfour) with his girlfriend Elaine (Thompson) to reunite with his bud for the event. And that’s when the mysterious light first appears.

“We liked playing with the idea of someone from New York coming to LA, visiting his best friend and not being used to the glamour,” Cordes illustrates. “Because we’ve seen it before where we have a bunch of privileged people at a party and they have their problems, then something happens and as an audience, you think ‘I can’t relate to any of these people or their personalities’. We tried to avoid that and give you people that you really care about and you’ll think ‘Oh my God, what would I do if I were in that situation?’”

Although Faison and Balfour’s characters were best friends back in New York, the dynamic between the two has changed since last they saw each other, which only adds to the drama in their friendship. “Jarrod is at the definitive crossroads of any man’s life when he finds out he might be a father,” reveals O’Donnell “And the more modern take on that for us is whether or not he wants to be a father, because that happens these days. We all make choices. People can relate to characters like that.”

Back on set, the brother’s seem to be in their element. With the help of the small yet dedicated crew, the shoot seems to be going very smoothly and even the actors are extremely playful between multiple takes. “Compared to the studio process which beats you down, this is actually a lot of fun,” confesses Greg. “And we’re getting to do what we want. It’s liberating and awesome.”

“I guess we won’t be able to blame anyone if everyone hates this movie,” he jokes, no doubt in regards to fan reaction for AVP: R, a sentiment we get the feeling the director himself shares with the fans. “This one’s on us. We will have to take responsibility on this one.”

Source: Rob G.