‘Sons of Atom’ dir. Adam Butcher
It’s 1970. Bradley and Curtis are 13. They are not friends. They have an empty weekend ahead of them. And nuclear apocalypse looms.
Writer-Director: Adam Butcher
Producers: Craig Heathcote & Ruth Sewell
DOP: Bob Williams
Key Cast: Tom Howes, James Wilson
C8: Where did the idea for ‘Sons of Atom’ come from?
AB: Since childhood I’ve been having vivid dreams about nuclear apocalypse. So I’ve always wanted to write a story about it. Then, a few years ago, I saw the ‘Protect and Survive’ films online and knew I had to make something about them.
C8: What was the scriptwriting process like? How long did it ultimately take you?
AB: I did a lot of re-writing on this one, sometimes making it simpler, sometimes because of production limitations. It took longer than normal. The script went through many iterations, some where Bradley’s dad was in it, and Curtis was American.
It was very on-and-off, but it took about a year from first draft to starting production.
C8: ‘Sons of Atom’ is a departure from the documentary style of your previous shorts. What prompted the change or was this a natural evolution for you?
AB: I’d made live-action fiction shorts before and was glad to return! I just choose the style that matches the story I want to tell.
C8: What was the biggest challenge in mixing live action with animation?
AB: I think the hardest element was the editing and storytelling. We’re dealing with separate stories in different styles and you have to keep the audience with you despite that. It should feel strange but cohesive, and I think me and Stephen (the editor) managed that well.
C8: How did you fund the film? Did you receive assistance from any film organisations?
AB: Waltham Forest (a London borough) was running this Hitchcock Fund at the time, and my script was one of the two to be awarded. I added a bit of my own money and that was just enough, but still had to call in a lot of favours!
C8: If you did the whole process again what would you do differently?
AB: I think I’d give greater love to the live-action somehow…more rehearsal, braver camera work. But I’m generally happy with it!
C8: The film has had a great run on the festival circuit. What do you think was the key element to its success?
AB: I think this is more of a “festival film” than an “internet film”. It requires a bit more trust and attention from the audience, and looks good on a big screen. Plus, you always get points for strangeness.
C8: What has the reaction to the film been like? What has been the consensus on the dark ending?
AB: I think less people have “got” this film than some of my others and I think this is because it’s an a lot more personal story for me. The reaction’s been good though.
As for the ending, it’s ambiguous but I actually thought it was kinda hopeful! I think others felt the same…
C8: Are film festivals the best place for filmmakers to showcase their shorts?
AB: It depends on the short and what you want out of it. Festivals can give your film real undivided attention but from a comparatively small audience. Online can get you big audiences, but you’ve got to hook them, keep them and maybe not expect too much of them…
C8: What’s next for Adam Butcher?
I’ve written a feature film that I’m trying to get made. Oh and I’m also planning a mini online series – kitchen sink drama with a sci-fi twist.
You can find out more about Adam Butcher and his work here: www.adam-butcher.co.uk