Q&A: The Spierig Brothers on “PREDESTINATION”, “WINCHESTER”


What makes PREDESTINATION stand out from other time travel projects? Perhaps it may be it’s curiously small core cast, each of whom play characters who are connected by more than just fate? Maybe it’s the projects specific designs, having set the project mostly in alternate yet familiar versions of our own past? Or maybe it’s that the project is an adaptation of a Robert Heinlein short story, ranking it among the few big screen takes on the author’s provocative work.

In any case, PREDESTINATION is definitely one of the more unique time travel thrillers of its kind, especially thanks to the contribution of genre-friendly directors The Spierig Brothers. Reuniting with their DAYBREAKERS star Ethan Hawke and recruiting rising Australian actress Sarah (JESSABELLE) Snook, The Spierig Brothers offer a tale with its fair balance of violence, twists and even emotion. FANGORIA recently caught up with the Spierig’s as they talked about PREDESTINATION, portraying time travel and where they’re headed next…

FANGORIA: How did you first become a part of PREDESTINATION as a project?

PETER SPIERIG: I had read the short story quite a few years ago and I loved it. I thought it was really something extraordinary and original. I showed it to Michael and he felt the same way, so we knew that we would make it into a film one day. It was too good to let go, so one day, we said, “Let’s do it,” and we started writing it before we even had the rights to do it. Then we approached the Heinlein Estate and they were very supportive, so we got all the rights together. So that was the process of how the movie got made, but we had loved that short story for a long, long time.

FANGORIA: Your other films are actually quite big in scale, and they certainly match the ambition of the stories they’re telling. With PREDESTINATION, that same ambition is on display but the story is actually quite self-contained. Did that feel like a change of pace of you two as filmmakers?

MICHAEL SPIERIG: I guess PREDESTINATION was a change of pace, at least a little bit, but there’s still very much of our style in the film. We were just drawn to this story, and the story defined the pacing and the style. We wanted to make a film that was fairly unconventional and that approached things differently in regards to the time travel genre. We like doing that, in the same way we were unconventional with DAYBREAKERS in the vampire genre and everything was just out there.

We’ve never really seen an intersex time travel movie before, which is interesting to me. We’ve also never seen Ethan Hawke play these types of characters before, and the world is not for the wear yet on how talented Sarah Snook is. So people will have the chance to find this relatively new talent in PREDESTINATION as well.

PREDESTINATION also has something I’ve always liked, which is the ideas within science fiction. As much as I love robots and aliens and all of that stuff, but the traditional sci-fi guys like Heinlein, Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke always wrote stories that got into science theory and that’s something I’m really into exploring. It was a real joy to do PREDESTINATION because it’s so unconventional, and that’s part of what we love about it.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

FANGORIA: In terms of the twisty story of the film, how important was it to balance the revelation of certain information as to not give too much away too early?

PETER SPIERIG: It’s a tricky one. We had to give the audience enough information to follow the story and not be incredibly frustrated. We knew if we didn’t give them enough information, they’d be completely annoyed, and if we gave them too much, it might be completely confusing. So we had to pace our information so that we’d have one little reveal, then another little reveal, and then on and on, so it was tough to balance.

MICHAEL SPIERIG: This is also a film that requires a repeat viewing, I think. Some people will be able to see the twists and turns coming the first time, others will go from the beginning to the end and not have a clue, and that’s a really interesting thing. PREDESTINATION has so many layers in terms of little in-jokes that we plant the whole way through, and there are a few lines in there that have double meanings. So I think this is going to play in a lot of ways, including for people who figured it out the whole time and people who have no idea as well.

FANGORIA: How did you guys settle on the design of the film and the specifics of PREDESTINATION’s sci-fi elements?

MICHAEL SPIERIG: From my perspective, what we needed to do was define a time period clearly, so that when we went into the time travel elements of things, we would be able to recognize where and when we are. So we wanted the iconic images of the ’60s, which was very kitschy, plastic, blue-and-white version of the future.

You have to remember that Heinlein wrote this story in the late ’50s, so while that is the past for us, that was the future for Heinlein. So we had to reflect the imagination of Heinlein in terms of what the future of the ’60s would look like and what the future of the ’70s would look like. So for the ’70s, the colors were very warm and smokey, while the ’40s are very clean and washed out. So we just tried to define the time periods very nicely.

FANGORIA: For a time travel film, it’s uncommon to be so driven by dialogue and storytelling as opposed to action and exposition. How did you decide upon the structure of the film with consideration of jumping through time in a way that’s organic to the story?

MICHAEL SPIERIG: The original Heinlein story takes place largely in the past. To adapt that into a feature-length picture was a very interesting process for us, and we actually got a bit of resistance from people saying we should get to the action quicker. This is all for a movie that cost $9 million to make, which gave us a certain amount of freedom to experiment. We modeled the film after the films of David Cronenberg or Terry Gilliam, which we find really interesting and a much more aggressive approach to storytelling.

FANGORIA: Do you guys have any other projects currently in development?

PETER SPIERIG: We’re working on a project called WINCHESTER, which is based on the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, which is considered the most haunted house in America. Sarah Winchester, who was the heiress to the Winchester Rifle Company, built the house because she believed she was haunted by all the spirits of people killed by Winchester rifles. So she built this house that has stairs that go to nowhere, and doors that go to 2-story drops. So we’re writing the screenplay based on her story and the house, and it’s going to be a very scary, terrifying haunted house movie. The character of Sarah Winchester is a very interesting and complicated one, and we’re looking forward to doing that project.

PREDESTINATION, directed by The Spierig Brothers, is currently in limited theaters and VOD from Stage6 and Vertical Entertainment.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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