Video Interview: Alex Garland Chats Sci-Fi, Filmmaking + 'Ex Machina'
by Alex Billington
April 16, 2015
"Go into a shoot with a bad script, and you're in big trouble." Playing in theaters now is the new sci-fi film Ex Machina, directed by screenwriter turned filmmaker Alex Garland. Garland is making his directorial debut with this film after writing the scripts for The Beach, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go and Dredd. A few years back I met up with him for an interview about Dredd, and we talked a lot about science fiction, and how the genre pushes itself forward. I met up with Alex Garland again, this time while he was in New York City to promote Ex Machina, and we again chatted about sci-fi and how much he loves the genre. As always, it was fun to sit down and talk with Alex about filmmaking and much more. Fire it up!
"Really interesting areas are beginning to exist that only a handful of people in the world can really get their heads around," Garland says. Ex Machina is about a man who brings in a young programming genius to test his latest creation, a robot named Ava that has artificial intelligence so advanced it might be able to fool anyone. "I've never worked on a film, ever, where the order of scenes didn't get change and things from the back half didn't end up at the front half," he says of editing. I wanted to cover a number of topics. However, as I've known Alex for a few years, it turned into a back and forth discussion with some of his gripes about interviews as well. That said I'm always happy to get honest answers from storytellers I admire.
My interview with Ex Machina writer & director Alex Garland, shot on Flipcam in New York City:
Timeline of questions: 0:20 - This film is really about asking questions… 2:40 - What do you mean you are unable to understand? 4:00 - Why do you think A.I. is being investigated so much in new science fiction nowadays? 7:18 - I'm intrigued by the analysis of what's going on in your mind… 8:00 - Did you set rules or limits for yourself? 9:00 - Even with sensuality and being intimate with a machine, what's possible? 11:20 - What part is the most important to get correct? 15:00 - Are you satisfied with the results of Ex Machina? 15:30 - Do you think about where this fits into the sci-fi genre? 16:20 - So will you always stick with sci-fi?
From my positive review of Garland's Ex Machina: "I admire Alex Garland for being so brave as to make the kind of film he wanted to make, to broach edgy and difficult topics in relation to human interaction, and to stay on track throughout… Garland is very intelligent and he knows that the film needs to be entertaining, seductive enough to draw you in, but provocative enough so that it doesn't fail at making the audience think about what they're watching. His ultimate goal is to provoke discussions, for us wonder what if? and why?." A big thank you to Alex Garland for his time and to A24 Films for arranging the interview. Go see the film.
Alex Garland's Ex Machina is now playing in theaters in both the US & UK and other countries around the world. Consult local listings. For release details in the US, visit A24films.com. Check out ava-sessions.com.