Frightening with Cosmic Consequences: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead on their TIFF-Premiering Synchronic

Filmmaker Magazine | 9/9/2019 | Erik Luers
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Benson: We don’t view Synchronic as a “drug movie” like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or Requiem for a Dream or anything in that tradition. It also intentionally doesn’t take any moral or ethical standpoint on drug use at all, but hopefully does present some really interesting ideas about synthetic analogs that are sold over the counter in the U.S. And Synchronic (the pill) doesn’t replicate any psychedelic effects from any actual drug, but rather, it’s a mechanism for a terrifying sci-fi premise. So, stylistically, we were aiming for the movies that frighten us with cosmic consequences, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Annihilation, and True Detective. That said, we have a very instinct-driven style that we respond to the most closely, which can be seen in our previous films, like The Endless.

Filmmaker: What role do you view the city of New Orleans as having in the film?

Moorhead - New - Orleans - Heart - Synchronic

Moorhead: New Orleans is the beating heart of Synchronic. It was written for the place, and there was never a possibility of changing it. It’s one of the only cities in America that shares very little with any other US city: its eclectic history of French and Spanish colonialism, war, cultural and economic and racial division and cohesion, music, food, architecture…if it were a painting, it’d be three inches thick with layers and layers of different strokes and colors, sand and stucco and blood mixed with the paint. Within the United States, culturally it might be better described as its own country rather than just another city. If we had a few more days to shoot, a longer runtime, and no concern about pacing, we’d just be cutting in B-Roll of all of its unbelievable nooks and crannies. We wanted to make the movie as “Nawlins” as New Orleans could get.

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