Director Rohit Rao's thriller "Ultrasonic" follows a musician who begins hearing a strange noise that no one else can. While his wife questions his sanity, his brother-in-law thinks it's a conspiracy. The film is now streaming on Xfinity and Verizon FiOS Video on Demand courtesy of SnagFilms. You can check out the trailer at the bottom of this page.
Director: Rohit Rao
Producers: Rohit Rao, Seynabou Gaye andBarg Upender
Writers: Mike Maguire and Rohit Raoa
What it's about: The main character is Simon, his wife is Ruth and her brother is Jonas. Simon and Ruth are expecting their first child. Simon's ears start playing tricks on him and he begins to hear (what he thinks) is a very real sound, and no one else can hear it. Ruth thinks it's stress that's causing it, but Jonas thinks it's a conspiracy. Simon and Jonas go in search of the sound in an attempt to get to the bottom of it.
"All in all the film is about those things, but I feel the conspiracy storyline, although really at the forefront of the film, is secondary to the theme of love, and more specifically the sacrifices that love sometimes requires."
Rao's background: "I'm an Indian American filmmaker living in Maryland. I've been wanting to make movies and music for a living since high school. I made a couple of short films back in 2001 and 2002, but had to wait for technology to get cheap enough for me to make a feature length film and still have it look good. Of course, that technology for me ended up being the Canon T2i."
On low-budget filmmaking': "Making a feature was something I had been patiently waiting for since my last short film, ten years ago. The inspiration to make a movie was just purely based on my need to be creating something at any given time, and I wanted to create a film on a bigger scale than I had before. The inspiration to create THIS movie came from conversations that Mike and I would have about how we can craft a simple but interesting story that could be shot on a micro budget. Everything revolved around that, actually… 'Can we shoot that scene on our budget?' If the answer was no, we'd re-write it or scrap it altogether.
"Since we all had day jobs, it was really pretty grueling the hours I put in… I didn't mind the hours I spent on 'Ultrasonic,' I was just incredibly tired all the time for the greater portion of a year. Money was a factor of course… It might seem like in this day and age that making a movie for 20k should be easy, but man it was tough. I'm very proud of what we were able to accomplish, but there were definitely some moments where my resolve waned."
What SnagFilms audiences can expect: "I dunno… a combination of things I spose. I've heard good feedback from viewers on the general aesthetic that the film has. I've had quite a few people really like the soundtrack, so I'm happy about that. I hope that the thing they most respond to is the ending."
Inspirations: "There were a few films I watched from a 'studying them' perspective during pre-production. 'Afterschool,' by Antonio Campos. 'The Secret in their Eyes'… I watched an Australian film about a guy with tinnitus called 'Noise,' which seems like it might have similarities to 'Ultrasonic' but not really. By far the film that had the most impact on me during pre-production was 'Black Swan.' Aronofsky is definitely one of my favorite directors (along with PT Anderson and Tarantino), and 'Black Swan' really did a number on me when I watched it."
Future projects? "I've begun writing my next script with Mike [Maguire]! It's working title is "Annie Get Your Gun". (I have to check on what it's going to take for me to use that title, but…) It's a bit of a dystopic society love story that takes place in a society where people have to get monthly 'sanity checks.' We're in the preliminary stages right now, but I'm hoping to have it written in the next few months and acquire funding so I can be in pre-production by this time next year!"
[Full Disclosure: SnagFilms is the parent company of Indiewire.]