Interview with "Silver Circle" Director Pasha Roberts

Photo Credit: Lineplot Productions
April 5th, 2013

Pasha Roberts is the founder of Two Lanterns Media and director of the new animated film Silver Circle.  Pasha sat down with Movie Room Reviews and filled me in about his new animated film Silver Circle.

Nick from Movie Room Reviews-  I’m here speaking with Pasha Roberts director of the new film Silver Circle which opens in LA on FRI. 4/5 at the Laemmle Noho.  How are you doing today?

Pasha- I’m doing great.  We are excited to get Silver Circle out into the market after four long years.

MRR- Four long years huh? Holy smokes.  I read that you founded Two Lanterns Media to create 3-D graphics for financial companies, and later developed a web series called Save Sonny for the libertarian magazine "Reason" about the (alleged) perils of Social Security.  Now your new film Silver Circle touches a lot of political topics.  It’s a very interesting animated movie and we will get into that, but first can you tell our audience what this film is about?

Pasha- Yeah.  Basically it’s a thriller/romance and it’s a fictional story set in the future in 2019 about an economic collapse, dollar collapse, and a group of rebels fighting the Federal Reserve.  So it’s kind of a cat and mouse game between investigator and the rebels, and obviously as it turns into a thriller/romance it gets complicated and twisty and fun.  It has a spine of ideas in terms monetary policy, but it’s not really a wonky movie, it’s more of a fun car chase thriller movie that has what has actually happened in history.

MRR- It’s a very action packed movie.  What category would you put the film in?

Pasha-  We call it a thriller/romance.  Sometimes animation falls into it’s own category but what’s interesting is that usually animations are comedy or fantasy.  We don’t have dragons or comedy, well there’s parts of it that are funny,  in that sense for animation it defies some American types of things for animation genres, but in Europe and Asia it’s pretty common to see animation that is in other genres like a thriller/romance.

MRR- The film is set in 2019, that seems a little soon to have the countries currency go into an inflated mess? What did you find appealing about the story? 

Pasha-  I worked with the screenwriter Steven Schwartz quite a bit to get the story exactly the way we wanted.  I think it was interesting because it is relatively historically accurate in terms of what happens under other regimes when their currency dies, but it tells the story in a fun way.  We try to make our rebels fun, we try to make them cool looking and it kind of lets us cover this material in an entirely new way.   So that’s the most interesting thing as well as being able to do a full scale animated project.

MRR- Who do you think this film will appeal to?
Pasha- We’ve got a lot of traction in three areas.  One of them is there is a lot of liberty oriented people that follow the Federal Reserve, and follow monetary policy, and a lot of the Ron Paul kids are excited about that.  So that’s definitely an area where we get a lot of our very strong grass roots support. 

A lot of people that you may have never seen in the world but they are very strong followers of the precious medals world, silver and gold in particular, and their really interested in it.  Basically when somebody spends time looking at that, they understand what is going on with our dollar and our currency.  In the movie the rebels make their money out of silver and that’s where the name comes from. 

And the third area really is unrelated to that and is more in the comic and animation world.  We do a lot of comic conventions, a lot of animation festivals and people are really interested in fighting the bad guy, and having cool looking characters, and have cool looking animation, and we definitely deliver on that as well.

MRR- Let’s talk about the animation in the film,  it is different than the animation I am used to, can you tell us about that?

Pasha- I guess there’s two factors.  First off it’s kind of a self-shaded look, it’s a little Scanner Darkly but not quite as weird.  Our goal really is to have a semi-realistic look without falling to far into what they call the “uncanny valley” and to convey kind of a gritty future realistic world that is where this kind of fight is going on.  The other thing is that we are an independent animation studio.  We’re not Pixar, so we are operating on one percent or less of one of the big budget animated movies.  So it’s interesting because people’s expectations have gone way, way up in terms of what animation is supposed to look like, but I think we are delivering very good quality especially for the budget and the time that we have to spend on the movie and I think it really tells the story.

MRR- Why do animation? Why not film the movie with actors?

Pasha- Actually if we did the movie with live action with all the explosions and car chases and helicopters and all that it would be expensive.  I’ve had people read the script that tell me it’s good but that it’s a 30 million dollar movie.  We spent two on it with the animation.  So part of it is that, and part f it is actually to create a little bit of a barrier, there’s kind of a controversial ending and we kind of wanted a difference from reality a little bit, make it separated. Kind of like in Fight Club for example.  That one’s live shot but they’re separated from reality nature in that movie also.  That’s kind of what we are going for and we don’t want to make it too realistic especially post 9/11. 

MRR-  So doing an animated movie kind of keeps some doors open that otherwise would be closed if you didn’t?

Pasha- Yes.  It lets us do anything.  It’s kind of a double edged sword. For those of you that are animation geeks, you place the cameras and do all the shooting well after the actors have already been shot.  So if I want to go over somebody else’s shoulder for over-the-shoulder or if I want to place a camera in some other strange place, I can just do it.  I think there’s a place where the actor was playing with a butterfly knife in the movie which wasn’t there when we originally shot it.  We thought of that later and just took demonstration videos from YouTube and took those skills and put it inside of the virtual actors hand, and made him a butterfly knife expert.

MRR- Well that’s cool.  When you have the actors read the scenes, do you have them act it out as well?

Pasha- Yes.  We acted the whole thing out inside of a really small studio and used that as reference for the whole animation.  They had little head cameras attached to their heads so they could see what their facial expressions were doing at every moment and basically get perfect audio, perfect facial capture for what they were doing.  I like relying on the genius of a live actor as far as how the character would look and feel and how they would say something.

Also, the martial arts one was a fun moment where we basically wanted to make a really exciting martial arts scene so we brought in three martial artists that basically kicked each other all over the studio all day.  Then we replace their bodies with the hero’s bodies when they were fighting in all the various scenes. 

MRR- Do you have to work with artists to conceptualize the characters and the scenery in the movie?  I know there is already a Silver Circle comic book right?

Pasha- Yeah.  The artist that did the comic book, Jackie Musto, is great and she also did our character design.  We thought about it ourselves a lot to and sort specified what these people would be like, and either found live reference for them or had them drawn up, she did all the costume design and that kind of a thing.  One of my misgivings about the movie, or something I’ll do next time for comic conventions, is it’s not cosplay friendly and it looks like somewhat normal clothing with an edge as opposed to something that’s really, really unique.  At comic conventions people dress up in vary characteristic ways like the characters.  We want to make it more friendly for people to dress up like the characters.  Next time you might see some more unusual costumes, not outlandish but characteristic costumes, that people can people can wear so they can be some sort of character. 

MRR- So you plan on continuing this story through film?

Pasha-  Oh yes.  As you probably noticed there’s several hooks in there in terms of the sequel and we already got a treatment down for that, and once we finish moving this out into the market we will raise money again and get production going.  It’s a fun follow up story set in 2028 and it should be interesting. 

MRR- How can our audiences get to see the film?  I know it’s getting released on April 5th in LA, but where else can they see it?

Pasha- It played in New York and Boston.  It will be playing at the Laemmle Noho for a full week at least staring on April 5th.  It will be in Washington D.C starting on the 12th for a full week at Ballston Regal.  And there’s a series of single night showings that will be going on across the country, if you go to it lists the different places it will be showing.  We don’t really know after that.  If the market is able to pick it up and run with it, it will show up in a lot more places. 

MRR- Well thank you so much for talking with me and us here at Movie Room Reviews wish you the best of luck.

Pasha- Thank you.