It’s always fascinating to see a filmmaker progress and grow. Drake Doremus’ early indie films like “Spooner” and “Douchebag” were lumped in with the lo-fi mumblecore movement, but he quickly expanded beyond that realm with the touching long-distance romance “Like Crazy,” a film that introduced many to Felicity Jones and even featured an early role by Jennifer Lawrence. While maintaining his free-form style—a lot of improvisation built around loosely visualized scenes—his approach is a method, not a madness, and each film grows with confidence. His last picture, “Breathe In,” illustrated how heavyweights like Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan effortlessly fit into this exploratory form. He even discovered another new stand-out in Mackenzie Davis.
For his next trick, Doremus is attempting something very different, a traditionally scripted sci-fi film, and one with a terrific cast. Starring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, plus Guy Pearce, Jacki Weaver Kate Lyn Sheil and Toby Huss (“Halt And Catch Fire“), the filmmaker’s next project is called “Equals,” and is a futuristic love story where human emotions—love, hate, envy, all the rest— have been eradicated. Written by Nathan Parker, the screenwriter behind indie sci-fi hit “Moon,” the twist is a disease called SOS (Switch On Syndrome) that begins to free dangerous feelings—and the afflicted are exiled from society.
“I’m terrified of it,” Stewart said in an interview a few months before shooting started this summer. “Though it’s a movie with a really basic concept, it’s overtly ambitious. In ‘Equals,’ things go wrong because you can’t deny the humanity in everyone. It’s the most devastating story.”
“The story has been compared to ‘1984,’ but it’s not that at all,” producer Ann Ruark said during a press conference this summer in Tokyo, where some of the movie was filmed. “It’s a love story–it’s not dystopian, it’s Utopian.”
Meanwhile Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott free Films, has released the first photo, which is fittingly alluring, moody and sexy. “Equals” is set for release sometime in 2015. If we’re lucky, and it’s ready, the film probably has a good shot at premiering at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.