Interview: Director Marco Checa Garcia Talks About Adapting Kurt Vonnegut's Dystopian '2BR02B'

Tuesday, 23 May 2017 - 2:25PM
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 - 2:25PM
Interview: Director Marco Checa Garcia Talks About Adapting Kurt Vonnegut's Dystopian '2BR02B'
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Image credit: Marco Checa Garcia
Kurt Vonnegut's 1962 short story 2BR02B imagines a future where the United States has managed to overcome overpopulation by limiting the number of citizens to 40 million and implementing a combination of infanticide and state-incentivized suicide—leading to a society where someone must die for each newly born child to survive. The story revolves around Edward K. Wehling, an expectant parent waiting in a hospital lobby, thinking about his pregnant wife and the family members who must die to make room for his children.

Director Marco Checa Garcia has adapted the story into a new short film, which is set to appear at the Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival this May 26th. We sat down with Marco to talk more about the movie.

Outer Places:
Tell me a bit about yourself and your film career. Are there films or artists you look to for inspiration? Are there themes you find yourself returning to again and again?
Marco Checa Garcia: I'm originally from Spain, [and] when I was very young I started working as an editor [for] a documentary channel. I was really intrigued about CG and VFX so I read every book and every tutorial I found and years later I was able to work as a VFX Artist in London, Sydney, Oslo, Vancouver and Montreal. I was very lucky with my career so I worked in many Hollywood films and high-end TV shows like Game of Thrones, District 9, Life of Pi, Tron Legacy, Iron Man 3 and many others. After working as a VFX artist in more than 40 films I learned more and more about filmmaking itself. I used to write film scripts as a hobby so I decided to blend my creativity and ideas with my technical knowledge and become a director. As a director I worked on several music videos and a couple of successful short films.
...after working on so many Hollywood films with massive budgets, lately I'm very inspired by successful feature films done with a tiny budget. I watched It Follows recently and it's a very entertaining film, very well done, and the budget was only around $2 million dollars. Gareth Edward's Monsters is obviously another example. The Lobster was done with $4 million and they were able to create a surreal and immersive world without expensive sets or expensive VFX, just with a lot of talent...The last film I worked on as a VFX Artist was Alice: Through The Looking Glass, [which was] a terrible movie, boring and pretentious with a budget of $200 million. I find it very interesting when a filmmaker is able to captivate an audience with a tiny fraction of that money.
About what themes I always return to, dystopia, always dystopia. From George Orwell to Philip K. Dick, I absolutely devour any book, comic book, or film where a dystopian world is portrayed. We have a few hints about how the future will be, but all we know is that it is not going to be pretty, so I focus my filmmaking career on trying to tell stories based in dystopian worlds.
OP: What are some of your favorite pieces of sci-fi, in film or other mediums? 
Garcia: [For] feature films, Alien is the number one...2001 [A Space Odyssey], Melancholia, District 9, 2046, Blade Runner, The Thing, the list can be very long. [For] short films, La Jetee and Neill Blomkamp's Alive in Joburg are really game-changers. [For] TV shows, Black Mirror is great, lots of episodes with a very eclectic point of view, very diverse and inspiring. Lately I'm very interested in sci-fi films that show us the future in a minimalistic and elegant way without the use of lots of VFX or fantastic wardrobe or props like Gattaca, Her, etc.
OP: 2BR02B is an adaptation of the Kurt Vonnegut story of the same name. What about the story inspired you to create this film?
arcia: I really loved how theatrical the story was, just a few characters in a small location, a hospital's waiting room, and how that terrifying world was depicted in that room: the winners, the losers, the elite, the middle-class citizens...I thought it was really challenging to tell this story in a film, for obvious reasons. You need to be very creative with your camera when shooting a 20-minute short in a small space, and I was attracted by the challenge. I'm also a dad, so putting myself in Wehling's clothes, imagining that I have to choose which one of my kids is going to survive was unbearable, I really wanted to direct this short film and see if other parents felt as moved as I felt watching it.
OP: What were some of the most difficult parts of the filming process? What was your favorite aspect?
Garcia: As I said, the most difficult thing was to write the shooting script, planning how to move the camera in such a small location with four actors talking to each other and moving around, and trying to shoot it making it look interesting despite being in only one location. Most of the good reviews and feedback we [received] talk about how the short film is very entertaining and how you are engaged by the story from the first second, despite being twenty minutes long and happening in one enclosed place.

Another difficult thing was how long it took us to finish it. Short films are mostly made because people are willing to do it for free, when they have time to help you after their normal jobs or projects. For this reason we had to wait a lot 'til the post-production was finished, but it was very exciting to see the whole thing done.
OP: The human population on Earth recently reached 7.5 billion, while climate change continues to threaten the planet's ecosystems. The world of 2BR02B solves these kinds of endemic problems by instituting state-sponsored suicide, euthanasia, and executions. How close do you think we are to that becoming a reality?
Garcia: I don't think we are going to experience this kind of state control in our lifetime, but maybe in 100 years some parts of 2BR02B will become real. Unless someone discovers a non-contaminating energy source and is able to substitute oil in the next years...but this is material for another dystopian sci-fi film.
OP: In your mind, what's the key to creating good science fiction?
Garcia: I think the key is don't go too far away from reality. In a dystopian world, obviously, you are proposing things that "might be", but when science-fiction goes too far away, too fantastic, focusing only on technology, strange creatures and impossible worlds something is missing for me. It's more attractive to me [to conceive] a world similar to ours but with some touches of dystopia, rather than a totally futuristic and unbelievable universe.
OP: Tell me about what you're working on next.
Garcia: I'm very excited right now because I started developing a feature film. Me and two other producers got the rights for a film adaptation of a very popular Italian comic book, Eleuteri Serpieri's Morbus Gravis. This is a dream come true because I read this comic book when I was a child and it really impacted me. We just started, but if everything goes as planned we'll be able to produce this movie in the next year or so, with myself as the director.

2BR02B will appear at the Philip K. Dick Sci-Fi Film Festival on Friday, May 26th at The Museum of the Moving Image in Manhattan, NY. Get your tickets here!

You can follow Marco Checa Garcia and 2BR02B on Facebook and IMDB.
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