Travis Bible’s short film, EXIT STRATEGY, conceptually is about as solid and tried and true as it gets in Sci-Fi land: A genius brother tries to figure out a way to manipulate events via time travel in order to save his fire fighter brother’s life. Without taking a breath, you can fondly recall the underrated Dennis Quaid starrer, FREQUENCY for a feature length film that hit the bulls eye playing in the same area. But Bible scores with EXIT STRATEGY by remembering two very key requirements that make that film or a film like GROUNDHOG DAY a classic and so many other films a nice try at best: He gives us characters to care about and one character in particular who grows during the course of his impossible journey. And for that, he was rewarded with the $50,000 check as the Louisiana Film Prize’s big winner. It was well deserved.
1 The film manages to keep a complicated time-travel structure together, while also succeeding in not losing the heart of the story. So, what was most difficult for you, making sure the audience understood what was going on with the “exit strategy,” or delivering two characters that have a realistic brotherly bond?
Rich (Kohnke) and Chris (O’Shea) are great actors so I knew they would nail the brother stuff, but time travel is more on me as a writer. The whole time on set, I kept tweaking lines dealing with the time travel portion of it. By the third day, I had no idea if it made sense anymore. HA!
I sent a rough cut to my mom and was like “watch this and I’m going to quiz you on the plot”. She’s not really a time loop movie type of person, so when she passed the quiz, I knew we were good.
2 $50,000. You mentioned immediately afterward that you planned to use the prize winnings as seed money to finance a feature. How exactly do you plan to go about that?
I have a treatment for a lower budget feature that’s a Sci Fi movie with the same tone as EXIT STRATEGY. I’m going to try to finish the script by next Spring and then see about finding Producers/Investors. It will be nice to be able to say we’ve already raised $50,000 of funding.
3 Was this a project you had written and planned to shoot and decided due to the opportunity the Louisiana Film Prize presented to shoot in and around Shreveport, or did you develop it specifically with intention to enter EXIT STRATEGY in Film Prize?
Hmm. Both? I mean I could have shot it in Los Angeles, but (The Louisiana Film) Prize Fest is such a good time I’d hate to miss out. And Shreveport is a great place to shoot if you can get there.
4 There have been a lot of great films that have explored the idea of time travel in a similar way that EXIT STRATEGY does. Which ones were inspiration for you or influences on the film?
I’ve been into time travel stuff forever so it’s hard to narrow it down. I think it started with that “Star Trek” episode where the ship was stuck in a loop and only Data knew it. EDGE OF TOMORROW, SOURCE CODE, GROUNDHOG DAY. If it’s got a time loop I’ll watch it.
5 Do you work quickly on set or are you always trying to get that one more take or one last shot before your producer and AD shuts you down?
Louisiana weather in the middle of summer is a great AD. When it’s that hot and humid, it really helps you keep the pace up. HA! But as an editor, I like to shoot as much as possible to give me options in post.
6 Having just watched your film with an audience (that wasn’t entirely composed of friends, family, cast and crew) for the first time, what was the greatest part and what was the toughest part?
I was worried that the jokes wouldn’t land. The movie gets kind of heavy at the end, so I wanted to try to keep it light as long as possible. I don’t know though, with comedies it’s really easy to gauge how your movie is doing. With something that leans more drama like EXIT STRATEGY, it’s tricky. Is the audience quiet because they’re engaged or bored?
7 Popcorn or Candy?
Since ice cream isn’t a choice, I’ll go popcorn.