Go behind the scenes of Gear in our interview with filmmakers Kevin Adams and Joseph Ksander.
If you enjoyed the Prototype film Gear, let’s take a look behind the scenes with filmmakers Kevin Adams and Joseph Ksander, who co-wrote and co-directed the film.
Q: Who worked with you on the project? How did you pick out the cast and crew?
A: We were really lucky that our producer Narineh Hacopian, who came out of AFI, was able to call on a number of her fellow alums (and their teams) to crew for us — some of the most talented artists and craftspeople in the industry.
We worked with the supercool team at Treadwell/Kelly Casting. We saw so many great up-and-coming actors, finding the right ones for this project was fun but really challenging. The ensemble was remarkable — hard-working and talented: Charlotte White, Braden Lynch, Amber Friendly, Ryan Shrime and Stephen Carey. We collaborated with each of them to define their characters. Their performances also helped us build the performance of their co-star — the robot Three.
Alexis Marsh and Sam Jones composed the beautiful score and end-credits song. John Yoon and Nathaniel Morgan built our robot and the folks over at Post Mango helped us light him. Oliver Benavidez designed and cut our sound. If you like the film, make sure you stay for the credits and give props to the amazing artists and technicians who helped us pull it together!
Q: Where did the story concept come from? Did anything in particular inspire this short?
A: The seed came from a more complex idea that Kevin had been working on for a while, partly inspired by his daughter. When we started working together, we pitched each other various projects, and Joe really responded to this idea of a dysfunctional friendship between a girl and her robot. We first developed it as a feature, and the short is sort of a slice from that treatment. But we wanted to make sure that the story stood on its own, with the larger world as a backdrop that hopefully makes you want to see more.
Q: How long did it take to write? How long was the production overall?
A: We had been building the world for a few months, but we wrote the script in about a week. It sat on a shelf for a while until the Prototype contest came around. Once we started going, we had three weeks of pre-production, three days to shoot, then about 3 months of post-production and visual effects.
Q: Where did you film?
A: We shot one day on the earthquake set at Universal Studios, where the tram-ride takes park visitors. That was a blast, being behind-the-scenes over there. They even ran the attraction for us before we dressed the set. Then we spent two days at the Television Center in Hollywood, which is this cool 1920’s art-deco campus filled with crazy agglutinative architecture, steam pipes and cat-walks. It looked great on camera, especially after the totally unexpected rain that weekend gave us a free wetdown!
Q: Do you have a favorite scene?
A: Our favorite shot, and the one that was hardest to pull off, is near the end when (spoiler alert!) Three reaches down and helps Mazzy to her feet. It’s the emotional core of the movie. Charlotte had to act against nothing (or against Joe standing on an apple box) and convince us that there is a real relationship between her and a robot that won’t appear on screen for another three months. We poured everything we had into the VFX for that shot, but it really only works because Charlotte’s performance is so honest and believable.
Q: What about a favorite memory from shooting or production?
A: It was the end of the first night of shooting, on the Universal Lot, and everybody had wrapped out. We were exhausted but a few of us stuck around to clean up every last bit of the set. The sun was coming up — we looked out over the studio back-lot and realized that we were making something that was really ours. However it turns out, here we are. We made this.
Kevin Adams (Writer/Director)
Kevin Adams is a native of Toronto, Canada. He graduated in 1994 from Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis on Film and Classical Animation. Upon graduation, he immediately landed a job at Walt Disney Feature Animation working on such films as The Emperor’s New Groove, Fantasia 2000, Hercules and Home on the Range. Kevin then joined ARC Productions in Toronto as Head of the Art Department and Studio Creative Director. There he directed the award-winning short film Enter the Sandbox and was Director of Cinematography and Art Director on the acclaimed animated feature film 9 – where he and Joe Ksander first worked with together. Kevin has also worked for PDI/DreamWorks, Paramount Animation, and is currently a Production Designer at Reel FX Animation Studio for the films Free Birds and the upcoming Watch Dogs. For fun, Kevin enjoys painting and parkour.
Joe Ksander (Writer/Director)
Joe Ksander grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a child he discovered the stop-motion monsters of Ray Harryhausen and has been in love with movies ever since. He studied animation and film at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. While still in school Joe started working at the Academy Award winning visual effects studio Rhythm & Hues, where he animated and supervised animation on films like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Yogi Bear and X-Men: First Class. When he was directing animation on the feature film 9, Joe met Kevin Adams and immediately recognized a kindred spirit. More recently, Joe has worked at Industrial Light & Magic on Cowboys & Aliens, Pacific Rim, and the upcoming Transformers movie. He currently lives in Los Angeles where he and Kevin are developing a number of projects together. As an anniversary gift, Joe’s wife gave him a replica of the titanium wedding band from The Abyss, since he’s still in love with movies.