Canadian filmmaker Jason James is the founder of Vancouver-based Resonance Films. As a producer, James produced Mountain Men and did double duty as producer and director on That Burning Feeling. He returns to directing with the indie film Entanglement, coming to select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on February 9 by Dark Star Pictures.
World Film Geek had the chance to talk with James about his experiences before and on the film.
Thank you Jason for talking about Entanglement. I saw the film and it was quite brilliant. I felt in some ways, I felt like Ben in some ways.
Wow, that’s disturbing (laughs)
(Laughs) Well, I meant how he is trying to find the answers of his life and how he can go about solving them.
(Laughs) Don’t worry, I was just kidding. But that’s awesome. Yeah, I feel like we all relate to that character at some moment in our lives you know?
How did you get your start in filmmaking?
Making movies is all I’ve wanted to do since I was 9 or 10. I basically flying through elementary school, high school, college. When there was a paper due, I would always ask, “Can I make a movie instead?” and back then it was more of an original idea than it is now. Yeah, so telling stories and creating worlds is just what I’ve always done. I haven’t really had a real job outside of films. Every single job I’ve taken has been inside that ring with a career trajectory.
So yeah, it’s something I’ve done and always loved. I feel grateful that I get to do it as a job.
Let’s talk about Entanglement? How did you get involved with the film?
I was developing a movie with Jason Filiatrault, another movie that is, and one day, he sent me the script for the film. And it was an early draft. He asked, “What do you think? Do you have any notes?” I read the script from cover to cover and as I read it, I was able to see the script in its entirety. It felt very clear to me. So I created a Tumblr page of images and music, sounds and videos of basically what I wanted the film to look like. If I was going to direct it, this is how I would execute it.
And I never pitched a writer to let me be so involved with a picture before so I thought it was weird and magical and romantic. It was beautiful and I knew it was something I had to be a part of. But yeah, it all started with that Tumblr page as to what I thought the film would look like.
Wow! Well, Thomas Middleditch and Jess Weixler did a great job in their roles of Ben and Hanna. What was it like working with the two on the film?
Amazing! Thomas is the first person we went out to for this movie. What I like to do is what actors’ interviews to see who they are innately as people before I send them an offer or ask them to be a part of the project. I remember watching this interview with Thomas where he asked some question like “What’s your favorite song” and he started about Neutral Milk Hotel’s King of Carrot Flowers and he just started crying. He was breaking down and was so emotional and I knew right there, that’s the character of Ben! (Laughs) This guy is on the verge of a breakdown and I couldn’t tell if he was going to break down and laugh or break down and cry. He was just so on the edge.
Thomas is able to oscillate between drama and comedy, just this cerebral style of comedy. He was so integral to the development and tone of this film. He came in early and he and I worked on the script and developed this world and tone. And all of the other cast came around him. You know, Jess Weixler, who plays Hanna and Diana Bang, who plays Tabby. They all have such different energies and different ways of working. It was so interesting that Hanna and Tabby are polar opposites of the spectrum and Ben is in the middle. It was really fun to play with all those different tones.
And that’s what I liked, especially with Thomas and Jess, because they are so different from each other and yet they are connected. This does help prove the theory that sometimes opposites do in fact, attract.
Yeah, exactly. They are really great together. Their scenes just jump off the screen and it’s quite interesting. You’re not quite sure where it’s going. And I feel like Hanna is playing with Ben, like a cat playing with a dead mouse (laughs). It’s fun to watch.
The film brings up the interesting theory of “quantum entanglement”, which until seeing this film I had no idea what it even was. What is your take on the film’s central theme? After this, I have some sort of connection to the relevant theme.
[During this question, James did give a spoiler alert, so this answer is a bit re-worded in order not to spoil the film.]
Oh man! In the 30’s, Einstein created this theory of entanglement where two particles are put together and then separated yet no matter where they go through time and space, they are inexplicably linked. You can’t talk about one without talking in relation to the other. In entanglement, there are a lot of interesting ideas and theories about the choices we make and where we’re from and where we’re going. It’s cause and effect. And it talks about all of the different things that need to be put into place and life to be saved.
Ben has this timeline of his life on a wall, showing the different paths and routes he has taken or could take. All of that plays into the idea of our place in the world and who we are and where we’re going. The idea of entanglement involves Ben and Hanna in the film and they become linked together and it helps Ben realize what’s in store for his life and it plays the idea of “two sides of the coin”. It is a satisfying journey for Ben.
For those who plan to see the film, what message do you hope they will get out of it?
The film is about finding the beauty in both the light and the darkness. About the interconnectedness of things. It is a comedy about mental illness and depression and it’s something that affects all of us. Whether it’s a loved one or a family member, ourselves included. It’s just a continuation of a conversation about mental health but in a beautiful and romantic way.
Finally, are there any new projects you will be working on next that you can talk about?
Yeah we have a few projects. The writer of Entanglement and I are working on a TV series now that’s making the rounds called Tracy and the Unicorn. It’s sort of a weird magical serial killer show and we have another comedy called Bad Seed, which is a sperm bank heist comedy. (Laughs) Those two are on the horizon and they’re pretty fun and weird and different.
Entanglement is coming to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on February 9. This is quite an interesting look at one man’s journey to discover himself and anyone who is looking to discover themselves will want to see this. Thank you again Jason for talking about the film.
Thank you for having me.
A special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Jason James for making this interview possible. For more on Jason and his Resonance Films, go to the film company’s official website and check out their official Twitter page.