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Into the Process

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Journey to Planet X • 78 min.
11/10, 7:30 p.m.
Thalian Hall Black Box
Directors: Josh Koury & Myles Kane
$15 ind. ticket

DIRECTOR Q&A: Don’t miss a chance to ask questions from filmmakers Josh Koury and Myles Kane during “Journey to Planet X.” Courtesy photos

he filmmaking process is a beast to behold. Ask anyone who works in the industry, and he will confirm more than long hours, grueling work and endless endurance of fund-raising and script rewrites. Somehow, that’s why the art form remains so bewitching. The process which goes into making a film is more than manpower and money: Passion fuels many artists, whose visions can’t be compromised by, say, the need to raise a mere $1 million.

Myles Kane and Josh Koury set out to make a documentary about two avid filmmakers whose avant-garde ideas and lofty propositions embodied the love of cinema. After meeting Eric Swain and Troy Bernier in 2002 during Koury and Kane’s inaugural Brooklyn Underground Film Festival, they became enveloped in the sci-fi worlds the two filmmakers created.

“We loved their stuff because it was completely bizarre and felt like the kind of amazing outsider art you don’t see very often,” Koury tells encore. “We approached them in 2007, asked if they were making anything new, and if they would be open to two documentary filmmakers following the process.”

As the planets aligned, so did Eric and Troy’s latest short film “Planet X.” It follows a research team, led by a young scientist, which embark on a mission and find themselves caught in the middle of a war.

During Cucalorus 18, Kane and Koury will present the documentary, “Journey to Planet X,” which captures the film’s making. There will even be a Q&A with the audience after its screening led by Kane and Koury. It’s a perfect doc for budding filmmakers and veterans in the industry who can empathize with following through on their dreams no matter the cost.

Receiving rave reviews from audiences and critics alike, it has made rounds on the festival circuit, such as Traverse City Film Fest, after seeing its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. “Both were absolutely incredible, and we had raucous and enthusiastic screenings,” Koury says.

encore talked more with Koury about the project.

e: Why did you decide to pursue a documentary about their journey and the movie’s making? What drew you to it?
JK: Through the process of making independent films and creating this movie, we realized that the filmmaking process is pretty similar for filmmakers at all different budget levels. Many of Eric and Troy’s fears, anxieties and troubles, were reflected in our own process. Sometimes you forget about how hard these things are to make, but this struggle seems universal no matter how large or small a project is. You start to realize every filmmaker is perpetually in a similar fragile and vulnerable state.
The editing process is where we reflected the most on it. Working on scenes of them jumping over hurdle after hurdle, we realized we had been running a parallel course. We’re happy to see that many filmmakers and artists have responded to this story as well.

e: How do each Eric and Troy view the making of this movie and how does it feed into completing the project (or not)?
JK: Troy views the film as a leap forward for their careers. It’s a chance for them to establish themselves as filmmakers with a professional product.
Eric feels this is more of a creative endeavor, something to do on nights and weekends when not working. The duality creates some creative conflict but is also why we think their films work so well. We sometimes jokingly say that Eric’s eccentric filmmaking style is why we made the documentary about their work, but Troy’s determination is why we have a plot. That’s pretty much true.

e: What do you think makes people empathize so much with these two characters?
JK: Audiences have been extraordinary, and critics have been amazingly supportive. You just never know what people are going to respond to. We definitely try to keep our films fun and inspirational, but also explore our characters flaws and anxieties. Hopefully, this helps create empathy for the characters and lets a viewer relate to their struggle.
These guys are doing their best to make a crazy dream happen; it’s not always pretty, but they deserve credit for doing it. Hopefully, audiences reflect on that and envision themselves working tirelessly on their own projects.

e: When was the doc made, over how many months, and what was your budget, crew count, etc.?
We started the documentary after our tour with our last film called “We Are Wizards” (screened at Cucalorus 2008). The film took about three years to make, two years in production, one year in the editing room. Our budget was very small, less then $30k, but because we do almost everything ourselves, it was possible to pull this together.
I want to make it clear to any young filmmakers out there with a strong idea and determination to execute good craft: You can make a film that doesn’t cost so much. This has never been more true than with new technology.

e: What was the hardest aspect to overcome in its making?
JK: The hardest part was the process. We would second-guess ourselves, and once the film is done and doesn’t immediately begin the film festival circuit, you worry and feel it might be a failure.
The entire process is a struggle and to be honest, filmmakers are crazy for wanting to do it in the first place. This is part of the reason we wanted to tell this story of two unlikely but determined filmmakers.

e: Most rewarding?
JK: The most rewarding part for us is being able to enjoy the film festival circuit with Eric and Troy. They’ve been with us at film festivals as the documentary shown, often with their short as a companion piece. One of the hardest things about making a doc is showing your subjects the final film. Eric and Troy both love the film, and even better, truly don’t mind if people laugh during the screening. I was a recent festival where Troy proclaimed “everyone can feel free to laugh” before “Planet X” screened. Everyone did, and the room had a blast.

e: What would you say is most honest about this doc in showcasing directors in general and people who are smitten by filmmaking?
It’s honest in how hard it is to make a film. This stuff is easy to start, but difficult to finish…especially well. However, what is hopefully inspiring is the fact that anyone can be a filmmaker. If you’re passionate about telling a story, you can do it, especially in this time. It was so very much harder to make a film 10 or 20 years ago. Because of that, there are so many more bad films out there, but it also makes filmmaking possible for so many more filmmakers. It’s the democratization of the process, which I think is so exciting.

e: Anything pandering to exaggeration for entertainment purposes?
JK: Not really. If anything we might have held back on some of the ridiculousness on set to keep the story focused. We try to keep it as
real as possible, and try to be fly’s on the wall during the process.

e: Why do you love making docs?
JK: I personally need to make docs, and Myles (co-director) is a natural storyteller. Docs and narrative films aren’t so different, you just need to find your story and put it into a timeline. Both Myles and I do come from comedic backgrounds, so I guess that has something to do with our execution, as well as the stories we choose to explore in our filmmaking.

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