We took some time out with the creative artists from this issue of Waylines. Through their own words, find out the story behind their stories.

Rachael Acks

What was the inspiration for the story?

The original idea came up because I was (yet again) trying to wrap my brain around the concept of time dilation and long distance travel. I liked the idea of people separated by the barrier of time in this way still trying to communicate with each other as best they could. What actually got me to sit down and write it was the Of Monsters and Men song "Little Talks" which is very much about being haunted by the presence of someone who is gone. (And there is a reference to the song in the story for that reason.)

The story is a love story at its core. It's also one of guilt and loss. Do you feel that these themes are often inseparable?

I think so. If you didn't love someone, it wouldn't hurt to lose them. It's part of the deal, one of those agonizing and beautiful things about the impermanence of life. To have the joy of love, you also are forced to face inevitable loss, and it's never easy. It never should be. And guilt comes hand in hand with grief. We look back into the past and wish we could change things, or fear that by moving on all of that love and pain will somehow become less real. Life is full of difficult choices, and letting go is always one of the hardest.
What are you currently working on? Where can we find more Rachael Acks?

I'm currently working on more Steampunk murder mysteries for Musa Publishing; I'll have two more novellas coming out this year, and three are already out and eager for you to read them: Murder on the Titania, The Ugly Tin Orrery, and The Curious Case of Miss Clementine Nimowitz (and Her Exceedingly Tiny Dog). I have three novels at various stages I'm working on. I'm always writing something! I'm also peripherally involved in a documentary film project (The Reel Britain) about the British film industry and I'm incredibly excited about that.

I've had several short stories published, as well as this current novella series. To see the list and get all the relevant links (since many of the stories are free to read), please see my website!


Jake Kerr

What was the inspiration for Chip's story?

This is one of those stories where my initial idea was turned on its head. Like so many fans of science fiction and fantasy, I was one of the unpopular kids in grade school. So I was working on a prompt for a story, and it hit me that I could write a story where the nerd could get his revenge by manufacturing the details of his life to guaranty his popularity. This is not a new idea, but I thought that I could make the journey a bit of a puzzle piece, with plenty of trial and error and fits and starts. I was near the end of the story when I realized that if I was in Chip's shoes I would probably be getting frustrated after a few failures. So I planned on him revisiting his nerd life and then going back for the triumphant conclusion of him being popular.

But an odd thing happened as I wrote about his former life. I realized that the experience of reliving his life gave him a new appreciation of that former life, difficult as it was. Rather than seeing it as an affirmation of the pursuit of popularity, it was a repudiation of the value of popularity. So the inspiration of the story--the idea that a nerd could achieve happiness by being infiltrating the popular crowd--doesn't exist in the final story. In a way, I like to think that I learned a lesson myself in writing the story.

Why write?

I answered this at length in a post on my blog, but the short answer is that I am so moved by stories that I read that I find it a powerful thing to be able to do that to others. if I can move others with my stories, I know just how important that is, because I have been moved, as well.

What are you currently working on? Where can we find more Jake Kerr?

I'm working on a novel at the moment, but I have a few short stories coming up in anthologies over the next year or so. Even while working on a novel, I continue to be drawn to short fiction, so I doubt I will ever become one of those novel-only writers. The best way to find more work by me is to visit my website, www.jakekerr.com.


Colin Levy
What's the story behind this story? Why did you make The Secret Number?

Honestly, I’m a bit perplexed by how The Secret Number found its way into the world. I mean, Igor wrote the short over a decade ago. Years after it was published, some guy on the internet found it, read it, and liked it enough to submit it to the social news site reddit.com.

I was living in Amsterdam at the time, entrenched in the final throes of production on a short animated film called Sintel, when I came across the link. Normally I would have read the short story, cast my upvote and scrolled on. But I had taken a year off of school to make Sintel, and was starting to think about what I would do when I got back in school -- what I should do for my senior film. For a film student, it’s a pretty big deal. The senior film is their one shot to tell the world “hey, I can do this!”

The Secret Number just struck me, immediately, as something I wanted to see - as an audience member. Even as I was reading it, my gears were turning.

The story was short, simple, fun and mysterious. It was quirky, thought-provoking and dramatic. It was a character piece, and relied heavily on dialogue -- both things that made me uncomfortable, and gave me plenty to sink my teeth into as a director. The most dramatic elements of the story were told visually, so it seemed to call out for a film adaptation. And it was sci-fi, which was something I really wanted to try. I had never adapted someone else’s work before, but I’ve always been open to the idea. On a whim, I decided to shoot off an email to Igor. And the rest is history!

Where was this filmed? What was the production like?

We shot the film in Savannah, GA on location and in a studio. We built two sets - one for the interior of the psychiatrist’s office, and one for the interior of Ersheim’s room. We shot all this material on a RED camera using a beautiful Cooke zoom lens from the 70s. We shot a few pick-up shots and inserts with a Canon DSLR, including the exterior of the psychiatric facility, which I had my younger brother shoot for me in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Since everyone was in school, I assumed we’d have to primarily shoot on weekends to avoid conflicts... but as it turned out, the vast majority of the crew was willing to skip a few classes for the sake of our film! Since we only had our actors for a limited time, it made sense to shoot in large multi-day chunks rather than limiting ourselves to the weekend. Still, production was intermittent and spanned over quite a few weeks!

What are you working on at the moment? Any feature film plans in the future?

During the day, I’m currently working at Pixar Animation Studios as a Camera & Staging aritist. On my own time, I’m tinkering away on a few more ideas for short films. I’d love to tackle a feature of my own someday, but I’ve got no concrete plans!


K-Michel Parandi
What was the inspiration behind From the Future with Love, the story behind the story?

I've always wanted to develop something with cops in the future. In other screenplays I've written I've had scenes with police officers in an ultra-realistic future and I found it fascinating to imagine how real police-work would change over time. To me it is nonsense, the way we've "corporatized" our society: The population is here to serve corporations instead of having the corporations serve the population. For example, if you look at healthcare, there are a lot of questions that could be asked, especially here in the States. I've experienced hospitalization here in America and in Europe and these are two separate worlds. We're not treating people here, but making customers out of diseases, and profiting from that. As for the body-jacking, I've always been obsessed about the nature of identity. I often wonder if our identities are not strictly defined by our memories and the perception we have of others. At some point I connected these concepts to the idea of a totally corporate police in the future. This is something I've been developing for years. Later on, a friend who's been producing (James Lawler) introduced me to Channing Tatum's producing partner, Reid Caroline. Channing had just been asked by UTA if he had any desire to make a web series. So Reid asked James, who asked me. I entered a deal with James's company to write and direct a web series pilot. At that time I was developing another project in Los Angeles, but I decided to put this on hold and fly back to New York where I had already lived for several years. A lot of the core ideas came to life as I was writing and developing the web serial. James Lawler brought structure and helped me articulate this world. He's a creative producer and it's been a very interesting collaboration.

Are there plans to turn this into a feature film?

Absolutely. It's been one of our top priorities. There are a couple of treatments and screenplays, and one of them is still in active development.

What are you currently working on?

Lately I've been writing a movie for 20th Century Fox for a Chinese co-production. I've met with Rocky Morton from MJZ (advertising company) and we want to do something together as well. I'm very excited about that. That may be next after I'm done with Fox. Also, my talent manager has introduced me to Legendary Entertainment and I was impressed by their desire and capacity to develop interesting projects based on new models. Overall, it's really difficult to keep things moving in this business. Most things end up not happening, and you need to keep five or six fishing lines in the water in order to catch something that is real. It's always about timing. James Lawler, who's been producing for years, is now writing and directing a short project of his own and we're all very excited about this. On my end, I think we are waiting to see what is going to be the most realistic option for From the Future with Love. We don't want to just enter into an option deal for the sake of signing something but we are seeking opportunities that are real. There is serious interest on three different fronts: the motion picture side, the TV serial, and the video game. In a perfect world, we would do a motion picture with a company that would have the desire, power, and ability to produce the TV show afterward if they wanted to. I think the video game is a thing on it's own, and doesn't necessarily have to be connected though it could be. I've been talking with Interplay (who created the Fallout franchise) about turning this into a Playstation 4 game. And there is this new project titled Brokenkites I just finished writing that I would like to direct. The sky is the limit, but to answer your question, I have no idea what I'm working on. I'm just going with all I have, trying to do the best out of it, while trying to keep an open mind and all my options open.


Luke Randall
What was the inspiration behind Reach, the story behind the story?

I created the film as a school project and since we only had a few months to execute it trying to come up with a story on the spot was difficult. I ended up scanning through old sketch books and found a sketch of a robot plugged in by a cable and it snowballed from there.

We heard that you are working at Dreamworks Animation. Did Reach help in making paths to do so?

Yes in a way. I had the job offer already prior to finishing the film, but immigrating to the United States was proving difficult. Winning awards for the film and having articles published made it possible for me to get the visa I needed to come over to United States.
We heard Reach garnered many awards on the film festival circuit. How was the whole experience of taking Reach to festivals?

The festival experience was very cool, I genuinely didn't expect much of a response so it was exciting and eye opening. It's surreal watching it in a theater and finally seeing the film through the fresh eyes of an audience.

What has influenced you most, as a filmmaker?

It's hard to say. I try to consume as much music, art, screenplays, novels and movies as possible so that I have a wide spectrum of influences to pull from. I guess as far conscious influences, I am really a fan of the symmetrical and flat staging that I see a lot in Kubrick's films and I think the dark energy of David Lynch's work is pretty inspiring. But in the end, I would probably give a different answer to this question everyday of the week!

What are your plans for the future?

I will keep trying to make stories in one form or another, and continue to ravenously consume the stories other people create. I would like to eventually write and direct feature films.