Not too long ago I trying to tag myself while on the Nerdophiles twitter so I typed my name into the search bar. ‘Sam Wildman’ isn’t the most common name out there. Yes, there is also an Ensign Samantha Wildman on the USS Voyager but beyond that? The Wildman name isn’t exactly common. And yet my entire life there has always been at least one more Sam Wildman out there because I have been battling with them for emails and social media handles. I surprised when searching for myself in Twitter led to another ‘Sam Wildman.’ (His middle name also begins with a C which is totally bizarre, too.)
This other Sam Wildman does the name proud. He’s a pretty cool guy – probably way cooler than me. For one, he’s British so, you know, automatic cool points. (Really, we all know that’s the only reason we keep Alexx around after offending Pacific Rim.) And for another, he’s a filmmaker. Not just any filmmaker, either. Sam is actually really good at what he does. He’s worked on documentaries for BBC One, BBC Two, Channel 4, and Channel 5 and spends his time working on his own short films. This isn’t just Wildman pride taling here. He’s also been named as “One To Watch” at the Edinburgh Television Festival so you can rest assured that other people think he’s cool, too.
When I first came across Sam’s Twitter her was gearing up for a Kickstarter promotion for a new short film that sort of blew me away the moment I started reading about it. The Reverie is a an ambitious blend of fairytale mysticism and classic post-apocalyptic science fiction. And it looks fantastic. The production stills are incredible and the plot is hauntingly moving. Amy, a young survivor in a world devastated by some unknown catastrophe, embarks on a dangerous quest in search of a distant source for some mysterious broadcasting signal. She becomes determined to follow the song no matter where it leads her and despite the danger that may lurk in the woods ahead.
I’m a secret apocalypse junkie. Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend is probably my favourite book of all time. I spent literally hundreds of hours playing Fallout when I was a teenager. And I actually didn’t completely hate Waterworld.
I love all that bleak, radioactive, zombie-infested stuff. I can’t get enough of it. But if I was going to make a film about the end of the world, I was determined to do something fresh.
The Reverie is a fusion of fantasy, science fiction, folklore, mysticism and good old fashioned post-apocalyptic storytelling. It’s a world rooted in gritty realism – an awful, unspoken catastrophe that’s left people dead and rotting in their homes. When we meet our heroine, she’s completely alone and wandering the earth in search of survivors. So far, so familiar. But when she stumbles across a radio that’s broadcasting an inexplicable musical signal, the narrative evolves into something else entirely.
With the radio in hand like a divining rod, our heroine finds herself drawn into a vast, unrelenting wilderness in search of the signal’s source. As she descends deeper into the woods, the transmission crackles and pops and becomes clearer. We have no idea where it’s taking her – and she risks everything on the slight chance that it might lead to her salvation.
Although the story is set at the end of the world, that’s really just a backdrop for this haunting, magical tale about courage and belief. It’s a fairytale at heart – an allegory about how we’re connected to other people. Something strange happens to our heroine during her journey, and it lifts us up out of a grim, post-apocalyptic world into a really hopeful, enchanting place. That aspect of the story has all the hallmarks of an old fashioned fable. I wanted it to feel like something out of Alice in Wonderland or Hansel and Gretel – the miraculous against the mundane, and that childlike innocence in the face of real peril.
The story is a real cultural melting pot. There are also all sorts of little nods to different stories and films that I’ve fallen in love with. There are elements that feel a bit Pans Labyrinth, and it also owes a lot to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion. I also have to admit that Robert Zemeckis’ Castaway was a huge inspiration – our heroine’s weird relationship with her portable radio has more than just an echo of Tom Hank’s friendship with Wilson, his football.
In terms of influences, I’ve always been a massive fan of twisted tales and strange stories, especially the works of HP Lovecraft and old episodes of The Twilight Zone. They often sit on this odd fence between sci-fi and fantasy, where weirdness isn’t questioned. I took that approach with writing the script – that there were certain things about it that didn’t necessarily need to add up.
It never felt like a challenge to bind all these different, strange aspects of the story together. Because we’re so saturated culturally with post-apocalyptic films and video games and television series, I think there’s now an accepted shorthand about what the end of the world looks like and what that means. For me, that world was just a jumping off point to have some fun and tell a story that would normally fit around gingerbread houses and wicked witches. Fundamentally, fairytales work because they’re universal – everyone can identify with the hero’s struggle.
Launched last week, the Reverie Kickstarter has so far gotten £3,841 of their £4,800 funding goal and was chosen as a Kickstarter staff pick on March 11th. They are only about £1,000 short so you should definitely check them out and see about helping to Kickstart this project. You can read more about the project and the amazing people behind it on their Kickstarter page. You can also read about the reward tiers. £15 gets you a copy of the soundtrack and £20 gets you a all the earlier reward tiers plus a digital copy of the film! For another five quid they’ll put your name in the credits and post them up on IMDB.com (which I’m tempted to do just for the Sam-ception lulz). There are also a few higher tiers that would see you – in photograph or in person – in the film! Check them out.
Need a bit more convincing? Check out the amazing promo stills Sam sent me earlier this week. Phenomenal. The Reverie promises to be everything it says it will be and more. I’m looking forward to seeing them fully funded!