To celebrate the release of original sci-fi adventure, Pandorica, we catch up with director Tom Paton to discuss the film’s classic influences.
After an unknown event, the world has changed forcing people to return to a simpler way of life. We follow the leadership trials of the Varosha Tribe with Eiren, Ares and Thade all in line to lead the next generation of their colony. The three embark on a journey away from the safety of their home towards a remote forest and current leader Nus – who will choose his successor by trial.
But when their trial is interrupted by the arrival of another tribe, their courage, friendship and loyalty will be tested in conditions far more dangerous than they expected.
Tom explains the influences that inspired his new film, which is out now on Vimeo…
Escape From New York (1981) It’s one of the first films I remember seeing that wasn’t on at the cinema or that I had any idea about. I was about 13 when I saw it and I just flipped for everything; the tone, the fact it’s set during one night, the straightforward nature of the story. It’s a film you can put on no matter what kind of mood you’re in. I later went out and found everything with John Carpenter’s name on it. Assault On Precinct 13 (1976) quickly became another favourite for the same reasons. When I set out to make Pandorica I knew I wanted it to follow in the footsteps of those low budget films that aspired to achieve things way outside of their range. I think Carpenter’s influences is apparent when you watch the film; the use of wide shots, the night-time setting and the music. Hopefully I managed to create an aesthetic all of my own, but the influences are there.
Apocalypto (2006) Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto ranks up there. I just love the simplicity of the plot and the opportunity to experience the type of life you never could in your average day to day. It isn’t concerned with mysterious plot twists or big shocking reveals and instead just gets on with telling an edge of your seat story about survival against the odds. I wanted a similar tone for Pandorica and crafted a straightforward journey about rising to the occasion and finding a sense of self-belief that you weren’t sure you had. Leadership is a key theme of Pandorica and it was this element in Apocalypto that interested me the most.
Mad Max (1979) Jumping off the back of Apocalypto, it seems prudent to include the film that launched Gibson’s career. George Miller’s movie is a master class in straight forward storytelling. It isn’t afraid to let its main hero kick ass for the wrongs that are done to him. There has likely never been a better example of someone from outside the system coming along with a small pot of money and creating a entire universe. You can see how it would go on to attain its huge cult status. The events behind the Mad Max’s world’s apocalyptic events are never actually explored, which is interesting, and the same is true of Pandorica.
Religious Stories I’m not a religious person, but I do find the various origin stories of the ‘beginning’ of the world fascinating. Every culture has its own story about how we got here and I wanted to explore the other side of that coin with the Pandorica universe. In my movie, The Varosha have their own tale about how the world they live in ‘ended’. I thought it would be fascinating if every tribe we encounter had their own story. Our own world is born on the back of these origin stories and for the characters of this universe, their world is built on the back of their own tales.
‘Slasher’ Movies When I sat down to write a low budget movie, I knew I wanted to do something that played with those conventions. Often us guys at the bottom end of the budget ladder settle for available stuff like our young looking friends and the woods behind our house. I thought it would be funny to play with those horror conventions and transport them into a setting that is normally reserved for the ultra high budget Hollywood films… i.e. the apocalypse. The set up for the film is a classic one, three youngsters head out to the forest for the weekend, accompanied by an older guide, where they are picked off by masked men intent on killing them. Pandorica takes that set up and all the clichés associated with it and transplants them to the end of world. Doing this allowed me to investigate dynamics in a group situation and bring something fresh to a well-worn staple of low budget filmmaking. The masks we used are inspired by classic 80’s horror characters – the idea being that they have become the iconic subject of hundreds of years of stories, subjected to countless games of Chinese whispers and then appropriated by these villains that consider themselves Gods.