Josh Koury and Myles Kane met in 2002 at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where they studied filmmaking. They started the Brooklyn Underground Film Festival in 2002, where they met Eric Swain and Troy Bernier, who had submitted numerous films to their event. While Koury and Kane initially didn’t know what to make of their work, they eventually screened the films at the festival and began a long relationship with the filmmakers.
That relationship is what led to Koury and Kane’s documentary, “Journey to Planet X.”
What it’s about: “Journey to Planet X” follows Eric Swain and Troy Bernier, two amateur filmmakers who struggle to create an epic, low budget sci-fi film titled “Planet X.”
Director Koury says: “We make character driven documentaries that are hopefully funny and inspiring, but have an emotional core. Our film is ultimately a story about these two amateur filmmakers’ creative journey. They set out to produce something larger and wider reaching than their previous work, which is a leap of faith for them. Troy and Eric’s films have always been exciting and unpredictable because they are created on the fringe, by an unlikely creative team. They simultaneously attempt to emulate the familiar formats of ‘hollywood style’ action films while also telling unique tales from imagined worlds of their own. The results are often bizarre, but very fun to watch.”
On the challenges: “The biggest challenge for us was making a film about amateur filmmaking that was funny and entertaining but also wouldn’t be misunderstood as something condescending or exploitative. Since screening their films at Brooklyn Underground, we’ve been huge fans of Troy and Eric’s work, and wanted to get behind the scenes of their filmmaking process. We sometimes forget how difficult it is to create these things – it’s physically and emotionally straining, you feel overwhelmed and anxious at every turn, and even after all of your efforts there’s no guarantee your film will ever find an audience. That’s tough as an independent filmmaker. Through the process of making ‘Journey to Planet X’ we saw our own anxieties, excitement, and fear reflected in every step of Troy and Eric’s production. The similarities were eye-opening.”
What would you like Tribeca audiences to come away with? “Hopefully the audience will leave feeling inspired by Troy and Eric’s perseverance and their earnest and unpretentious approach to making films. We also hope that more people are turned on to their work and see the magic that we’ve seen for years. Obvious comparisons can be made between our documentary and ‘American Movie’ (a film we both adore). They are both stories about characters who are struggling to make their mark and create something big. However, more than a decade later, a lot of the technological boundaries have disappeared and it’s completely possible to create a film that takes place in outer space, with computer generated space craft and laser battles. What they lack in experience and budget, they make up for with passion and blind ambition. It’s ultimately a universal story of the struggle that every filmmaker goes through to realize their vision and bring a project to life.”
On the film’s inspirations: “We watch documentaries constantly. One of the exciting things about docs is seeing how filmmakers portray the material, and figuring out how they solve problems and sculpt a narrative structure. I value every screening we go to, because even if we don’t particularly care for the film, there’s almost always something that we can take away from it that helps inform our filmmaking. I guess that’s one of the reasons we felt inspired by Troy and Eric’s work. It’s very strange stuff, but it’s the kind of outsider filmmaking we absolutely fell in love with when we first programmed their work at the Brooklyn Underground back in 2003. There was an undeniable passion behind it all and a certain charm in the follies and amateur shortcomings. The blend of low budget effects, cast of amateur actors, and bizarre plots resulted in work that was infectious and mesmerizing. ”
What do you hope to get out of the Tribeca experience? “We just hope people enjoy the film. It’s a huge honor to be at Tribeca – we’ve never had a World Premiere in NYC before. Myles and I both moved to NYC in the late 90s, so we feel like this is our home. It’s so exciting to be able to bring this film to such an amazing festival right in our backyard. It will be great to celebrate this with Troy and Eric, who will get to share in the excitement of a big premiere.”
Future projects: “The next thing we have will be a short film on the Cryonics movement -the science of preserving deceased people for possible revival in the future. It’s a short film which is a bit of a departure from us, but we’re excited to make it. The film is in the can and we hope to have it finished by the end of the year. Sometime in the late Summer we hope to begin work on our next feature length film – no idea what that one’s about yet.”
Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.