This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 353: With Seth Larney Writer/Director of 2067 .
Ashley: Welcome to Episode #353 of the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing writer-director Seth Larney, who just did a sci-fi film called 2067, which is about a time traveler who goes to the future to try to save a dying earth. I love these types of epic sci-fi films, so I was excited to talk with him and hear how he put this film together. Definitely check out the trailer. This film looks really cool, lots of special effects. We talk about his journey as a filmmaker and specifically how he got this film produced. So stay tuned for that interview. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving me a comment on YouTube or retweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking or sharing it on Facebook.
These social media shares really do help spread word about the podcast, so they’re very much appreciated. Any websites or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and then just look for Episode Number #353. If you want my free guide-How To Sell a Screenplay in Five Weeks, you can pick that up by gonna www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you just put in your email address and I’ll send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks along with a bunch of bonus lessons.
I teach the whole process of how to sell a screenplay in that guide. I’ll teach you how to write a professional logline and query letter and how to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material. Really, it’s everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. A quick few words about what I’m working on. We’re still moving along on my mystery thriller feature film, the Rideshare Killer. I just saw the latest cut and we’re basically to locked picture. So the next week I’ve got to get all the other post folks moving along on their parts. And this is the composer to score the film, the colorist, the sound folks. There’s a couple of visual effects shots which will actually be done by my friend Curt Wiser.
Hey Curt, he’s actually the one who puts this podcast together for me each week. So he also does special effects and there’s a few effect shots that I’ll need him to do. It’s gonna be tight, but we’re still hoping to get it done around the end of the year. I’m making our big announcement on Wednesday, November 4th, assuming we don’t all descend into anarchy after the election, about the finalist and winners of SYS’s Six-Figure Screenplay Contest. So do check that out, I’ll be listing it just on www.sellingyourscreenplay.com in a blog post. Again, that’s gonna be Wednesday, November 4th, and that will be our final announcement for SYS’s Six-Figure Screenplay Contest. Again, this coming Wednesday we will announce our finalist and our winner of the contest.
So those are the things I’ve been working on over the last week. Now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing writer-director, Seth Larney. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Seth to the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Seth: Hey, thanks for having me Ashley. It’s a pleasure mate.
Ashley: So to start out, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Seth: Sure man. I grew up in the forest in Outback Australia and I wanted to make movies from when I was five years old, and then got into the film industry when I was 19. My first film was The Matrix, and then well, The Matrix II and III, and then I accrued on making movies in Sydney for I’d say something like 12 years or something like that. So I’ve kinda earned my stripes, so to speak, to become a director. Yeah.
Ashley: Got you. What did you do on those two Matrix movies?
Seth: I was the digital assets manager. That basically meant that I got to see every aspect that was created for the film, whether it be a shot that was filmed or a visual effects or an art department concept art. And then my job was to make sense of all of those things and know what they all were so that I could distribute all those assets to the producers and the directors just [inaudible 00:03:55] and they we’re reviewing staff. So, that’s it, yeah.
Ashley: How did you get that job? I always get questions from people, like this sounds like a good path for somebody that’s doing what you’re doing. How did you get that first job, that first entry level job in the business?
Seth: Yeah, man. Well, I wouldn’t actually say our department on the Matrix was the first department to my knowledge in that time they had a technical IT department because of the IT demands for the film. I’d actually started working as a computer technician while I was still doing, they call it high school in Australia, when I was about 15 years old. I started one day a week and then on full weekends and then three days a week, working as a computer technician while I was finishing my school. So when I saw they were looking for people to hire for this film, my way into that was with my computer knowledge. I wanted to be in film, but I had experience working with computers. So that’s what kind of got me to slip in, if you like.
Ashley: Got you. Was that your plan all along, like you knew even at 19 years old that you wanted to be a writer-director and so you were on that trajectory?
Seth: Absolutely. Yeah, man. I think from when I was maybe five or six years old, I saw Short Circuit and I asked my dad how they had gotten this robot in Short Circuit and he told me that they’d made him and he wasn’t actually alive. That kind of blew my mind. I think from then I knew what I wanted to do. Yeah.
Ashley: You have a number of credits on IMDb in various special effects positions. I’m curious, so you started out, it sounds like sort of a technician or technical guy. Were you also an artist and did you learn those digital artists as you were working, or was that something you came, you had a background in as well?
Seth: Well, my father was actually impressionist oil painter. So when I was growing up, I wanted to be an artist because he’s one of the most incredible artists that I’ve ever met. But my skills really turned out to be in a technical kind of capacity when I was young and early on. So I saw that as a kind of bridge to making art. And so when I saw that people were starting to create visual effects shots with computers that were as artistic as these impressions that I’d been seeing, and would enable me to make movies, I realized that that was a way in for me to learn how to direct films, was to learn how to construct visual frames with computers. And so I got into visual effects really young, I think when I was maybe 15 years old, and then used my experience on those Hollywood movies just to start to become a visual effects artist and then transition into a visual effects supervisor.
That really helped me as a director because also my brain works in a way where I really, I like to know how things work before I will attempt to do them, and I think visual effects is such a big part of storytelling these days. For me, I wanna know what’s the most efficient visual effects that I can use to most effectively tell a dramatic beat when I’m writing a screenplay. So I use that visual effects knowledge quite deeply in the writing phase as well as the directing phase.
Ashley: Yeah, sure. So let’s dig into your latest film, 2067. To start out, maybe you can give us a quick logline or a pitch. What is this film all about?
Seth: Well, it’s set in the future obviously in 2067, where we [inaudible 00:07:09] that the planet and there’s no more breathable oxygen for people to breathe, and so people are dying from the physical rejection, but there’s synthetic oxygen that is being administered to them. They look to the future in last ditch attempt to see if there are survivors, far off into the future to see if they would have a cure for this oxygen sickness. And they receive a message back from the future that just simply says, “Send Ethan Whyte.” He gets shot off into the far future to discover where are the people that send for him and to try and get the cure. The movie is really to speak an allegory for can we take control of their own destiny and take control of our own fates and save ourselves from their own destruction.
Ashley: Yeah, a good question for the modern era. So where did this idea come from? What was the genesis of this story?
Seth: Well, you know, as I said, I was growing up in the forest when I was young and swimming in rivers and climbing trees was my summers. When I moved to the city and started working on film and I heard a staff at one point when I was, and this is maybe 25 years ago, that the Amazon rainforest is being deforested, it was something like three football fields per minute. This is 25 years ago mind you. The Amazon forest produces 20 percent of all the world’s breathable oxygen. And I just had this horrible thought that we are steadily ensuring our own, the planet’s and our own destruction, and it’s a really terrifying thought to me. I just thought that our grandchildren and, or even children won’t have the same privilege of growing up and access to the same sort of wildlife and nature that I did growing up.
It was really terrifying, and that’s the reason I make movies. They should be these fun experiences for audiences, but I think that if you… the message at the core of that, it’s not preachy, but hopefully a message that you walk out of the cinema and you say to yourself, “Wow, that was really fun. I had a really good time, but I feel something.” And maybe that becomes a platform for opening up these conversations about things that I think are hopefully important.
Ashley: So let’s dig into your writing process a little bit. I noticed on IMDb, there’s an additional material writing credit for Dave Patterson. Maybe you can just describe sort of your relationship with him and how he contributed and what that credit actually meant.
Seth: Absolutely. Dave is a great fellow that works here in Sydney as well. We’re actually repped by the same agent. We had a pretty big workload and we were looking for someone to come on and do a little punch up for us with some of the dialogue of some of the secondary characters. And he came and just breathed a really nice, fresh kind of like new perspective of life into some of these dialogues that these other characters could have. I think one of them is like there’s a hawker for people that see the film that’s kind of screeching oxygen on the street and it was just a nice little… it’s a tonal texture that I think when you’re staring at a script for 10 years or 15 years, it can become quite…
It’s nice to have a second perspective come in and just be like, “Oh, this person could just…” a little line here of the dialogue there that makes the characters a bit more unique, if that makes sense. So yeah, so he helped me out with that and that was, it was really great benefit.
Ashley: Perfect. And I just… to pick on something you just said, 10 or 15 years, how long had you been mulling the screenplay, writing the screenplay, and working on this project before you actually got it into production?
Seth: Well, I pitched the very first concept, very first version of the concept to my producer, Lisa Shaunessy in 2005, and we were working on [inaudible 00:10:20] many times I think at the time. It took me probably five years to start writing a draft because I had a full-term for this other movie and I had to do the visual effects there as well. I was allowed to do a lot of planning, so I spent quite a bit of time doing flowcharts and beat sheets and characterized diagrams and things like this. Also because it’s a time travel movies, there’s a lot of mechanics. So I like to make sure that all those things are in alignment before I actually start putting words on the page. I’d say in about 2010 or 12 maybe, we started drafting seriously.
And then between 2012 and 2016 I got a job to, I got an offer of a job to go and shoot, and direct my first feature film in Malaysia, which was a studio movie over there called Tombiruo. So I put this script on hold and went over and shot that, and that was a fantastic experience. Came back in I think 2019, and we went straight into production on this one essentially like a week or two after I landed, we were green lit and we went ahead on this one. But it’s been kind of back to back on making these couple of films for probably about six years.
Ashley: Yeah. It’s so important for people to hear that is that these projects can take a long time to get going. Even if they turn out to be a success, it can still sometimes take a lot longer than we want. So just in general, let’s just talk about your writing schedule. It sounds like this one was a little bit abnormal, but typically what does your writing schedule look like? Are you someone that writes in the morning, at night? Do you go to Starbucks, do you write in a home office, how do you do your writing?
Seth: Well, I generally try and lock myself away in a room for, I’d say, if I’m gonna do a serious draft, not just the kind of, not just a polish or a dialogue process on it, but like a proper draft, I’ll probably allow myself about four weeks. I’ll go and get a hotel room somewhere or somewhere outside of my natural, normal day to day so that there’s no distraction. I’m not a super early morning person, so I’ll generally start writing and I’ll try and just… I set myself a general… I try not to set myself hard goals because I think it can be hard because sometimes you’re sitting on one problem maybe for three or four days, and then it cracks and then that pain or that, that’s three or four [inaudible 00:12:21] in a short amount of time, but I generally try and say, hey, if I can get through three pages a day, that’s okay.
That’s pretty productive. I’ll write solidly for maybe like six or eight hours a day and then call it quits and put it down and do it again. I just try and do that every day until I crack the draft basically. So, which is usually around about four weeks, for me. Yeah.
Ashley: You mentioned that you started drafting seriously after like about five years of mulling it over and making notes and stuff. I’m curious, who was involved in this drafting? I’m really kind of just curious about your development process. Once you had a draft that you liked, who did you send it to and who was involved in these early drafts?
Seth: Yeah, well say my producer, Lisa Shaunessy has been there with me from the beginning. We’ve had a whole bunch of stuff together, so we work on a lot of things together. She’s fantastic because she’s there all the time. So at the end I try to not inundate her with reviews because for a writer, if you’re reading your own words over and over and for an item, you can imagine how hard it is to stay objective. But for a producer it can be equally as bad if you’re forcing them to read your draft every two days. It’s hard for them to be impartial as well, but I try to at least show her at the end of the draft. But we were really lucky as well through the process that each draft that we did, we had some really great backing from someone or another.
For instance, in Australia we have some government financing that can help out with drafts financing specifically. So we got that a couple of times for a couple of rounds, and then you will show Screen Australia, they call it in Australia, you’ll show them the draft. They’ll come on board for some consultation, give you some notes. But also we were also lucky enough to work with two I consider to be a few of the greatest script editors around, Christopher Vogler and Michael Hague as well, at various points in development. And also amongst another, Sheila Hanahan Taylor and [inaudible 00:14:06]. Each of them gave me invaluable, also Michael Rymer, gave me invaluable insights for a particular draft.
And so they might come on and say, “Okay, one of them would be incredible with character.” “One of them would be incredible with structure.” So that would be the theme of that particular draft and then they would just smash me on that one point for the draft until the film was working on that level. And then the time the next draft came around, we’d have another script editor who would be incredible in another area and they would smash me until that level was working. It was great because going through his process, by the end of it, you feel like you’d held the script up to every angle of examination that you could, and managed to answer every question that you hopefully can kind of can be asked about it I think.
Ashley: Yeah. So maybe you can just tell us how can people see 2067? Do you know what the release schedule is gonna be like?
Seth: Yeah, absolutely. In the USA it’s being released on the 2nd of October, which is just tomorrow or the next day over there. I think if you Google it, you find that it’s gonna be released theatrically, it’s also gonna be released online. There’s a number of other territories, which we folded a lot of territories around the world and over the next six months from tomorrow and into next year, it’s gonna be released, started releases all around the world. So I think in the UK, it’s being related in December, this try and release date will be TBA that it will be soon in China and Germany and a whole bunch of other countries over the next few months. So…
Ashley: Yeah, perfect. What’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing? Twitter, Facebook, a blog, anything you’re comfortable sharing, I will round up for the show notes.
Seth: I have a Facebook page it’s called Seth Larney Director on Facebook. People can reach out to me that way. Also at Twitter as well, I’m @sethlarney on Twitter. I’m also @sethlarney on Instagram. So yeah, check out what I’m doing on those pages.
Ashley: Perfect. Well, I really appreciate you coming on and talking to me today, Seth. Good luck with this film and good luck with all your future films as well.
Seth: Thank you so much buddy, it’s a pleasure.
Ashley: Thank you, will talk to you later,
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Every script will get a grade of pass, consider or recommend, which should help you roughly understand where your script might rank if you were to submit it to a production company or agency. We can provide an analysis on features or television scripts. We also do proofreading without any analysis. We will also look at a treatment or outline and give you the same analysis on it. So if you’re looking to vet some of your project ideas, this is a great way to do it. We will also write your logline and synopsis for you. You can add this logline and synopsis writing service to an analysis or you can simply purchase this service as a standalone product. As a bonus, if your screenplay gets a recommend or a consider from one of our readers, you get to list the screenplay in the SYS Select database, which is a database for producers to find screenplays and a big part of our SYS Select program.
Producers are in the database searching for material on a daily basis, so it’s another great way to get your material in front of them. As a further bonus, if your script gets a recommend from one of our readers, your screenplay will get included in our monthly Best Of newsletter. Each month we send out a newsletter that highlights the best screenplays that have come through our script analysis service. This is monthly newsletter that goes out to our list of over 400 producers who are actively looking for material, so again, this is another great way to get your material out there. So if you want a professional evaluation of your screenplay at a very reasonable price, check out www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants.
On the next episode of the podcast, I’m gonna be interviewing writers-directors, Lane and Ruckus Skye. They actually wrote the film Becky, which you might remember. I featured the directors of that film, Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion and on the podcast a few months ago in Episode Number #337. So definitely check that out if you haven’t already listened. But Lane and Ruckus are actually here to talk about their new film, which they wrote and also directed, and that’s called The Devil to Pay. We talk about how they got involved with Becky, how that film got made as well as how they got this new film into production. These are two artists. They really kick-started their careers far from Hollywood and now they’re getting movies made.
So another really inspirational interview from Lane and Ruckus Skye next week. So keep an eye out for that episode. That’s our show. Thank you for listening.