Project Al­manac Time Teens

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert -

Ascience fic­tion adventure. A found footage film. A teen time travel story. Project Al­manac com­bines all three, but it was the film’s ba­sic com­ing- of- age story that at­tracted first- time direc­tor Dean Is­raelite to the $ 12 mil­lion project. “It was the emo­tional core of the story that at­tracted me, com­bined with a teenage adventure that re­minded me of The Goonies in terms of its ex­pan­sive­ness and the imag­i­na­tion of the young char­ac­ters,” says Is­raelite. “It’s a char­ac­ter- driven story that cen­tres on a group of teenage friends, and then we in­tro­duce found footage and time travel, in an un­con­ven­tional way.”

The story fol­lows a group of high school­ers, led by David Raskin ( Jonny We­ston), a bril­liant teenager who dis­cov­ers schemat­ics for a time ma­chine left be­hind by his late fa­ther. David and his friends build the time ma­chine, which they use to try and cor­rect mis­takes in their pasts, re­sult­ing in var­i­ous com­pli­ca­tions for them in the present. “The de­vice of the time travel is tied the­mat­i­cally into the pro­tag­o­nist’s jour­ney,” ex­plains Is­raelite. “The adventure he goes on as a re­sult of time travel is what ul­ti­mately al­lows him to come of age. I tried to make ev­ery­thing feel as real and grounded as pos­si­ble. In that way, you would be­lieve that this was a real kid go­ing through real teenage prob­lems, and if the time travel felt as au­then­tic and grounded as his life, if it didn’t feel like just an­other big bud­get movie, with big bud­get vis­ual ef­fects, then ev­ery­thing would fit to­gether, tonally and aes­thet­i­cally.”

The film’s grounded ap­proach is es­pe­cially ev­i­dent in the time ma­chine that David and his friends con­struct in the story, which is a syn­the­sis of the imag­i­na­tion and spare parts they have at their dis­posal. “They build the time ma­chine with all of the spare parts they can find, like a graph­ics card from an Xbox,” says Is­raelite. “They con­trol the ma­chine with a smart­phone, us­ing a coded app they

“It’s re­ally a fun teenage adventure, with some darker el­e­ments”

cre­ated that can in­ter­face with it. The ma­chine is mo­bile; it’s com­pact enough to fit into a back­pack, so they can walk around with it at school.”

Project Al­manac’s off­beat as­sort­ment of genre el­e­ments, and Is­raelite’s in­ex­pe­ri­ence, made the project a tough sell for pro­ducer Brad Fuller, when he ap­proached Para­mount Pic­tures with the An­drew Deutschman/ Ja­son Pa­gan script. “I would de­scribe Project Al­manac as Fer­ris Bueller’s Day Off and Weird Science meets Chron­i­cle,” says Fuller, a part­ner in Plat­inum Dunes, the genre- themed pro­duc­tion shin­gle founded by Michael Bay. “It’s re­ally a fun teenage adventure, with some darker el­e­ments that ap­pear later in the story. Para­mount was wary of the project, and of Dean, who im­pressed them with his de­tailed sto­ry­boards, and with a se­quence he shot from the film. Michael has a strong re­la­tion­ship with Para­mount, and he wrote the ex­ec­u­tives a let­ter say­ing he be­lieved in the project, and in Dean as direc­tor.”

Com­ing- of- age and time travel sto­ries have a uni­ver­sal ap­peal and Is­raelite be­lieves that Project Al­manac will res­onate with any­one who’s ever been young and thirsted for adventure. “The film is about how small changes can have huge ef­fects on who we are and how we feel about our­selves,” says Is­raelite. “We all know what it feels like to go from boy to man or girl to woman – the strug­gles, the lessons; the won­der­ment that comes from that time in our lives.” Project Al­manac is re­leased in UK cine­mas on 6 Fe­bru­ary.

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