Four Questions: Director Wil Magness


1. Did making “The Manual” (a sci-fi post-apocalyptic short film) give you bad dreams?

The story gave me a fair share of dreams, I wouldn’t say bad ones though. Have you heard of the theory that dreams are one method the brain has of working out problems in your life? I feel like I’ve watched a ton of variations of this film in my dreams. Probably the biggest effect the film had on my sleep is denying sleep to me. I spent a decent number of nights laying awake wondering if I was prepared enough, solving problems with the story, the production, the edit, etc.

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2. Could you fit in that robot suit?

I didn’t try so I don’t know for sure, but I assume I’m too big for it. The Machine suit was custom designed and built by Melissa DiMartino and Matt Hopkins to fit our actor, Lauren Emery. It was a pretty exact fit with a number of layers and took about 30 minutes to get her in or out of it, not counting the makeup needed for her eyes. She was very positive about it though! My suspicion is that being a robot is pretty fun.

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3. You made this film with your wife (as producer). You also made your son Bowie with your wife. Could Bowie fit in the robot suit?

I would estimate that Bowie is too small for the suit, haha! He was in the film too actually, as a younger version of the main character. So this really was a family activity, which is something I’m proud of.

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4. Is this film a statement about the current state of the world? If yes, how?

I’ve been fascinated with how worldviews are formed for a while now. Belief is a strange thing that extends beyond just religion. I think the same mechanisms influence our politics, eating philosophies, prejudices, discrimination, etc. I don’t think it’s inherent but is more educational and environmental, heavily affected by the opinions of the people that surround us. The way that modern politics can sort of tear families apart is really sad. People are so passionate about their beliefs on these subjects that they would rather accept questionable sources that agree with their position than even consider information that could potentially damage their position. The main theme in The Manual is “Belief,” examining where it can come from, the journey that one takes when they start to question what they’ve accepted for so long and how isolated it can make one feel. I’ve gone through this myself on a number of subjects through the years and it really captivated me. I think the film does a good job of bringing one through that experience. My greatest hope is that the film causes people to reevaluate their beliefs, reflect and ask themselves why they believe what they do.

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