Interview With Alienated Writer/Director Brian Ackley

alienated brian ackley interview

alienated brian ackley interview

Brian Ackley (Hostage Person, Uptown, Rendering Hogs) is the writer/director of the acclaimed science-­fiction drama Alienated, which sees release on March 25th, in cinemas and March 31st, on VOD.

We’ve already interviewed the movie’s star, George Katt (Valley of Angels, Red Sheep), who plays a man who, after seeing a UFO, is forced to confront the relationship issues between himself and his skeptical wife. Alienated is definitely not your typical sci-fi fare.

alienated brian ackley interview

For those who haven’t seen the film, how would you describe it?
The film is about a married couple who come to face their many issues on the brink of an alien invasion. A UFO sighting sets off an argument that shows how distant these two people are, and that in turn unravels bitterness and hostility. Do these people have love, and if so, will it be strong enough to bring them together as the world is collapsing around them?

You obviously have the perfect title for the movie – play with any others though?
The original title was UFO. I wanted to be very clear with what our film is about: aliens. There’s no question about it: in our world aliens exist, and one or more may be taunting our main character, Nate, or manipulating him, or any similarly creepy prospect from that launching point. We changed the title so it would pop up earlier on search lists. Alienation was what we had on set, until our lead actor, George Katt, suggesting we consider Alienated. Seeing that the story is about one man’s obsessive choices that alienate him from his wife, we went with it. As a bonus, the character’s name is in the title.

How much did you, as writer­/director, get involved in the casting? Did the financers push for bigger names at any time?
I worked closely with my producing partner, Princeton Holt, with the casting. As needed, we consulted our other partners in our company, One Way Or Another Productions. If I feel strongly about a choice, we go with it. If Princeton feels strongly, I absolutely consider it. If either of us are unsure, we open it up to the group. We’re feedback-based collaborators. We love working as a committee. And it’s worked for us.

We were our own financiers on this project, so we remained in control. Taylor was chosen because of our accessibility to him, his openness to our shooting schedule and parameters, and his history of playing oddball characters with genuine heart.

alienated brian ackley interview

What were you looking for from your main trio?
We casted spot on. They say if you cast well, your job as a director is that much easier, and it was. Nate had to be quiet but intense, with a disturbing inner life. Paige had to be facially expressive, and sort of a sympathetic villain. And Griffin had to seem from another planet because his role in the story is not clear to our main character.

What type of audience have you been targeting?
Conspiracy theorists. People that are burdened with suspicions or information that is just outside the acceptance of the mainstream. People that are like Nate, who have some pertinent information but cannot be heard. I think most people can relate to this kind of frustration, well beyond conspiracies. Like a kid in a classroom with their hand raised high because they know the answer, but the teacher won’t call on them because they want others to speak up. It hurts to have your hand up for so long.

How’s the feedback been? Are you the type of filmmaker that Googles most mornings looking for mentions of the movie?
The feedback has been wonderful. Our entire team has expressed surprise and gratitude for how far this project has come. Thirteen awards! Most of them for our incredible performances. Everyone is surprised and happy.

I can’t speak for everyone involved, but I’m not one to bask in glory for too long. I have things to do. Scripts to write, more stories to tell. One Way is the same way. We did not reach a goal in releasing this film on VOD; we merely caught up to a milestone. We have far more to do to become the company that we aim to be.

Audiences are going to be offered the chance to see the film on both the small screen or big screen — how would you prefer they see Alienated?
See it with an audience, if you can. My favorite experiences watching the film have been with lots of strangers. You’ll have the opportunity to do that if you live near New York, LA, DC, Boston, Nashville, or Aberdeen, South Dakota. Otherwise, we’re releasing wide on VOD through Gravitas Ventures on March 31st.

Thank you for your questions.

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