Writer, cinematographer and director William Eubank showed us with his previous film, Love, that he has a very strong and distinct visual style. Now, he’s showing off that style again with his latest film, The Signal.
Starring Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke and Beau Knapp, the plot follows three young adults who travel to an isolated place in the Nevada desert in order to find a hacker named Nomad. Once there though, they lose consciousness and find themselves in a confined area being studied by scientists in hazmat suits. Eventually, they realize that they are part of a plot that is much bigger than any of them could have ever imagined.
Recently, I sat down for an exclusive interview with William when he was in Los Angeles to promote The Signal. Displaying tons of enthusiasm, he discussed tackling some of the tough effects shots, shooting with such a small budget, working with Laurence Fishburne, and more.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
When you were writing the screenplay, did you know how the movie was going to end?
William Eubank: Well the core idea, the very crazy ending or the last moment or second of the film, I needed that. I definitely had to work backwards from there to a certain extent, but how the journey to get there and the way to sort of do it on this indie budget and make it feel sort of organic from the start, that was a process figuring out what the right steps were to get us to the end. The mechanics of the action in how do you reveal the end, that was constantly changing.
For a tightly budgeted movie, The Signal has some very impressive special effects.
William Eubank: Oh, thanks man. That’s just careful planning, that’s what it comes down to. If you’re not on set questioning stuff and being questioned by a million people, it’s not terribly possible to do this sort of thing. It just takes putting in months and months of quiet thinking and collecting your thoughts. So once you’re on set and things are crazy and you have a million people asking you questions, not only do you have the answers and the examples and you have a blueprint to follow, but you’re able to think slower and calmer because you know you can always revisit your collected self and that sort of pre-planning.
Were you looking to combine different genres with this movie? It’s kind of a sci-fi movie but it’s also a thriller of sorts.
William Eubank: I didn’t really ever go, “I’m going to make a genre bender.” I really didn’t even know that term until I started looking up what it means, so now I’m like, “Yeah it’s a genre bender” (laughs). I’m just a fan of a lot of different stuff, and when I’m making this pre-production journal I put in a lot of pictures from movies and influences and favorite moments from other films. Whether it’s something like Hanna or a John Hughes moment from Planes, Trains and Automobiles or a Kubrick thing or THX-1138 or pieces of the anime from Dragonball Z, they are all just things I’m a fan of. Inevitably, it works its way into my head. On top of that, it’s sort of a structure of everything. The first act is supposed to be extremely organic and the second act is locked down and tight and not much camera movement, and then the final act is kind of the breakout.