'Speed of Life' director Liz Manashil says David Bowie's death turned her horror film into a 'sci-fi romantic dramedy'
Named after a David Bowie song, and inspired by his eccentric life as much as his tragic death, the 76-minute indie flick will premiere on January 10, 2020
There's a new David Bowie-inspired movie called 'Speed Of Life' that will be out on January 10, 2020, and much like the quirky Starman himself, it promises to be a genuine time-space oddity.
Named after a David Bowie song, and inspired by his eccentric life as much as his tragic death, the 76-minute indie flick is a blend of science fiction meets dramedy. It gives us a unique, well-balanced perspective on the joys of life and mundane existence whilst exploring themes of love, loss, time travel, and growing old in an absurd world. The film also features powerful performances by a stellar cast that includes Ann Dowd, Ray Santiago, Vella Lovell, Sean Wright, with Allison Tolman and Jeff Perry.
The plot begins in the year 2016 (the year Bowie died) and revolves around a young married couple, June and Edward. The couple clearly loves each other, but they do engage in minor quibbles, as all young couples tend to do. June is a big David Bowie fan and is emotionally wrecked on receiving the news of her idol's untimely passing. But another untimely passing seems to be lurking right around the corner! By some bizarre cosmic coincidence, the music icon's death manages to rip a literal wormhole in the fabric of space and time, and the hapless Edward gets sucked into the interdimensional portal, leaving his wife June behind to fend for herself alone.
Fast forward to the year 2040, and Edward suddenly finds himself spat back into the reality he left in 2016, except that he is still a young man - he has barely aged a second. His wife June, on the other hand, has aged both physically and mentally. She is dreading the approach of her 60th birthday when she will be locked away along with the other senior citizens in her society. Never one to passively accept her fate, June is seen busy making plans to leave. But now, her once-mourned lover Edward has popped back into her life - and thus, drama ensues. This entertaining film is certainly worth a watch, and if you're a David Bowie fan, it's doubly pleasing.
MEAWW caught up with the talented director Liz Manashil to talk about the heartwarming film and her flourishing career so far.
Q: How did the idea for this zany plot first strike you? Was it like a cathartic way of dealing with the news of David Bowie's death?
A: Yes, kinda. I was trying to write a somewhat similar horror script about a woman being visited by her dead husband. When Bowie died, I got writer's block and on a whim, I decided just to write his death into the movie to break out of my writer's block. And I became really attached to that opening scene I wrote, so everything else had to change based off of that - and my horror film turned into a science-fiction romantic dramedy. I'm a fan of Bowie's and throughout the years, friends have given me Bowie candles, or pins or earrings, but I'm not a die-hard, know-all-the-lyrics fan. But his has been one of the only celebrity deaths that really impacted me because it was hard to even imagine that he could die.
Q: The soundtrack for the film is really well-curated. Since you had an indie budget, did you have to shelve some dream songs that you really wished you could have included?
A: The only song we couldn't get was a Bowie one. All other music was our first choice and all because of our amazing music supervisor, Liz Lawson, who is actually now an accomplished novelist! Our composer Troy Herion, was a dream to work with as well. I feel very fortunate that the budget allowed all the amazing music and insanely talented bands who are a part of our soundtrack, like DYAN, tUnE-yArDs, and Birthday Girls (to name a few).
Q: Your production company is called Womanashil, a neat little play on words. Any words of advice for young women who are budding directors?
A: Control the purse strings. The only reason I've been able to get two features off the ground is by crowdfunding and locking down investors myself. And no one has ever come in and taken creative control or taken credit away from me. In fact, my amazing producers very kindly suggested that I take a full producer credit on this film alongside them, because of my efforts in development, casting, and distribution. And that's the other key - wherever you lie on the gender spectrum, for full control and easier production, be in charge of the money and never work with a**holes. That seems simplistic but... trust your instincts.
Q: You're both the writer and director of this film, which is no easy feat. I understand you're also directing the upcoming film 'Lady Parts'. Would you willingly relinquish the director's chair to just focus on writing a great script in the future? Or could you envision yourself as a budding auteur, like say, Wes Anderson?
A: While I didn't write 'Lady Parts', I am co-directing it with my partner, Sean Wright. I would absolutely direct someone else's material in the future. I actually don't write because I have to write. I write to direct. I love working with weird, well-thought-out material that exposes bizarre worlds. I love pushing buttons as a director. I'm also directing a short called 'Lina' in February that has been written by our lead Erika Longo. After that, I'm going to direct a script that I have written called 'Sex and Jesus' - it's my passion project.
Q: Who are some of your favorite directors/ auteurs?
A: In high school, I really fell for Nicole Holofcener and Whit Stillman. Since then, I've really loved Jeff Nichols' stuff and of course James L Brooks. And I love a lot of directors that are more contentious. I love Lars von Trier. I love directors who have a clever sensibility in their dialogue or directors who spend their time trying to impact/ frustrate/ disgust/ devastate their audiences.
Q: 'Speed of Life' releases on Jan 10th, 2020, which also happens to be David Bowie's death anniversary. Given the premise of the film, this seems way more intentional than coincidental - who gets the credit for that brainwave?
A: Ha! That's me. If I had my druthers, we'd release in the spring but it seemed fully required to pay tribute to the man this way.