MM: There’s lots of striking imagery in the film, which feels very deliberate and stylized. Did you storyboard these elements of what process did you follow to create the visual language of the film?

SAS: I would shot-list, and then I would work with my cinematographer and we would shot-list together, and then he and I would do both photo boards and storyboards. The true nature of the collaboration was just being in the locations, and then responding to what that location was giving us on the day and in the moment. It was a combination of a lot of planning, but then also releasing control, and just working with what the magic is giving you on that day.

Rami Malek as Buster and Kate Lyn Sheil as Marty in Buster’s Mal Heart

MM: With Rami Malek as the lead and the film’s subject matter, comparisons to Mr. Robot seem to abound. Did the show influence your decision to cast him or was it taken before the show became hugely popular?

SAS: We made an offer to Rami before anyone had ever heard of Mr. Robot, and it was actually a source of concern for me, because the day that we sent the offer out, all of a sudden I started seeing billboards all over Los Angeles for Mr. Robot, and I was like, oh no, he’s going to be too famous now. I didn’t even know what Mr. Robot was about at that time, but his face was everywhere, but I thought, oh no, he’s going to blow up, and there’s no way that he’ll read this script. I think that we’re really fortunate in some ways that we cast him right before Mr. Robot got so big, and certainly that’s been great for our movie, because it means more people will see it, but we’ve also had to deal with the challenges of people saying, oh this is so much like Mr. Robot, so it’s been both a blessing and a curse in some respects.

But I think that fans of Mr. Robot are going to like this movie, because even though it has some overlapping themes with Mr. Robot, I think it’s a new exploration. In Mr. Robot, Elliot is this rebellious character, who’s rebelling against the machine of society and the socio-political machine, and in our movie, I think Rami decided to take this part because he wanted to explore those issues on an even deeper, more personal level. In our movie, Jonah is this rebellious character who is rebelling against the machine of the universe and the cosmos. I think for Rami, it was a natural extension of stuff he was already interested in, and hopefully for fans of Mr. Robot, they’ll want to go to that next level too. MM

Buster’s Mal Heart opened in theaters April 28, 2017, courtesy of WellGo.

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