Jason Trost returns to talk with us about his latest project, How To Save Us.
Trost is an extraordinary writer, director, and actor whose films are propelled light years beyond their meager budgets and deliver something often completely misunderstood, but inarguably fresh. We jumped at another opportunity to lend this man our podium and help spread the word about his latest project, How to Save Us, a brand new spin on the post-apocalypse genre that's unsurprisingly dishing out some original ideas.
TMS: This might seem juvenile to ask, but I just have to get it out of the way: The Last of Us had an impact on your inspiration for this film, didn't it?
JTro: Ha, absolutely! Loved that game. One of the only games I've played twice in recent memory. When I was playing The Last of Us I was like, "Holy shit maybe that ghost movie I've been thinking about for awhile could actually work".
TMS: The concept for How to Save Us is extremely intriguing. The ash. The radio frequencies. Sounds like a pretty rad video game, actually. The trailer definitely didn't go where I feared it would: zombies. That genre has been squeezed beyond death. Why stray from such a dead formula? Why go against the grain, man? Zombies are cool!
JTro: I always joked to myself while writing the movie that, "Screw it, if this doesn't pan out I'm making it a video game!" As much as the movie is inspired by things like I AM LEGEND (the book) and old Twilight Zone episodes, my main inspiration was to make a survival horror movie in the vein of the original Silent Hills and Resident Evils. I've really always wanted to make Silent Hill for real. But you know, the simple version, with very few, flawed characters.
And yes, zombies are dead--at least for now--which is a shame because I always loved zombies, or anything post apocalypse lately. So, I decided to make a new enemy for the apocalypse--one that doesn't have as many predetermined rules that destroy tension.
TMS: Speaking of video games, did you get your PS4? Last time TMS chatted with you, you were stoked for it. We've been playing the crap out Warframe, Resogun, and preparing for the new Metal Gear, via the HD collection. What games or features are you looking forward to this generation?
JTro: God, I wish. I've been a bit behind. Just finished up some Wii U games and recently started playing GTA 5 finally. Although, I'm about to squeeze in a replay through Silent Hill 2 and 3 before I shoot to get my shit together.
Maybe when I'm done shooting this movie I'll get a PS4 and get back on my ass. I presume around the time the new Infamous comes out. Way too many games coming out this generation. Graphics are insane now. I'm actually scared the videogame addict in me will take over and I'll go full Gollum. Must... be... productive...
TMS: Who did the music in the trailer? It's very good. Very fitting. How are you approaching the score for How to Save Us? Can we expect something similar to what's in the trailer or do you have something else in mind?
JTro: The music in the trailer is actually music from the game "Beyond: Two Souls." If you haven't played it, I really recommend it. It's an awesome ride. I loved the music in that game so much it stuck with me into the trailer. And the funny thing is the singing voice in that song actually belongs to Tori Letzler who is a friend of mine that I'm in talks with to score the film. Fingers crossed because if everything lines up, that could be seriously awesome.
TMS: I have to admit, I got chills when the monologue ended on the title splash. Just in the monologue alone, I got the feeling you're exploring some different strengths in your acting. How much of the script is complete and how did the writing influence your performance or vice versa?
JTro: Wow, thanks! And to think I did that on my sister's couch in half an hour. Ha! This will definitely be a different thing for me acting wise, and I'm super psyched for it.
The script is finished, starting to break it down and schedule it as we speak. I think knowing certain strengths I have as an actor that haven't been explored yet are definitely what influenced the writing. This couldn't be more different than Wet and Reckless and I love that. And just to throw another curve ball at you, I don't even play the character that does that monologue in the actual movie. But that is all I can say about that in an effort not to ruin anything.
TMS: If you're gonna be flying out to Tasmania to shoot this, where was the trailer shot? And why Tasmania? That's a particularly unique choice for the setting.
JTro: The trailer was actually shot deep in the mountains of the Greater Frazier Mountain Area. Wandered up there for the afternoon and had the trailer cut and posted that night. The reason I never made this movie sooner was because I never knew where to set it. Until last year when I went on vacation to Australia, I was looking at the map and figured I'd go check out Tasmania for a week. It's so gorgeous and terrifying there. I've never seen anywhere like it in the entire world. I love that it hasn't been shot out. There's still mystery there. It's like mixing the neon green hills of the shire, with jungle and the Pacific Northwest. It's bizarre and amazing. And since it is just an island it means there's potentially no escape, which was what I needed.
TMS: There doesn't seem to be a limit to the variety of genres, tones, and themes you've been exploring throughout your film career so far. What haven't you shown us yet? What other genres do you want to tackle?
JTro: I dunno? All of them? I hate making the same movie twice. I don't want to just be the comedy guy or the action guy. There are so many genres I still want to try. I'd love to do a full blown sci-fi. I'd love to do a stupid, high concept, odd ball romantic comedy. Maybe even a Western or two. Ha, who knows?
TMS: Besides comics and film, what other mediums could you see yourself getting into? Please say porn... don't say porn. That would be weird, but I would watch a porn written and directed by Jason Trost.
JTro: Well, I have been tooling around an idea about a movie about porn for sometime so who knows. Maybe someday! But, if I could get into any other medium it would be videogames. I would lose my mind. I love them so much and have a whole bookshelf of ideas that would only work as games. If I got to write and create videogames, I don't even know if I'd come back to movies to be honest. So, it's probably better that I stay away from them for a minute, ha!
TMS: What are some recent films you've really been diggin? Has anything you've seen recently inspired any of your upcoming projects?
JTro: Let's see... I really really dug Her. Would love to do something like that someday. And on the odd other end of the spectrum, I really loved Oblivion. I didn't expect to but it just worked for me. It had some of the best production design I've seen in years for a sci-fi and it reminded me so much of classic 70's apocalypse movies. It was just a huge Twilight Zone episode. And the fact that it had the balls to basically only have two characters for most the movie was awesome. The first 30 minutes where it's just Tom Cruise walking around talking into a headset, fantastic. Tangerine Dream-like score--fantastic.
I miss simplicity in story in the times of crazed ADD over complicated, convoluted, movies with dozens of characters. I'd rather get to know two characters really well than watch a bunch of strangers with goofy accents for 2 plus hours. (Double points if you know what Oscar-Bait movies I'm referring to).
TMS: By the end of the year you're hoping to shoot A World Without Superheroes, a sequel to the most original superhero flick I've seen in a very long time. Needless to say, I'm hugely pumped for that. Will the productions for How to Save Us and Without Superheroes overlap? When do you expect each film to be available and how do you plan to release them?
JTro: Well, this answer will all be speculation. A World Without Superheroes will happen sometime later this year. Lucas and I have been doing a lot of meetings and I think (fingers crossed) we've finally landed the funding we need. I want to take my time with AWWS because I really care about it. It's the best script I've written and it deserves to be done right. It's so much more than the first one, such a neat, dark look into what it's like having an alternate identity. Therefore, I need to be on the top of my game. That's why I'm making How To Save Us first (while 6 months of contracts and other B.S. go on that lead us into pre-production AWWS). I need to grease the wheels. Get back into the field. AWWS deserves to be something very special. This time I'll actually have the time and money to do it right.
I look at How To Save Us as training for the big game. I'll probably have the cut done for How To Save Us in April, then it will go through sound and other post whatnots preparing it for a festival run in October while I go gain 20 or so pounds of muscle for AWWS. Oh yeah, and there's a comic in there somewhere and a potential acting/writing gig I've got to squeeze in... No problem.
TMS: What's the best way film geeks and fans can support your projects? I know it's very tough for rare film makers like yourself. What are some new tricks you're learning about getting projects off the ground? I need to see what you can do with a mega budget. If you rock this hard on smaller productions, I might battle a rhino to see a Jason Trost summer blockbuster.
JTro: God, if I did a summer blockbuster, prepare yourself for Black Wednesday, the day the Keyboard Cowboys crash the internet. I guess the best way to support my projects is contribute when you can to the Indeigogo pages and just follow my Facebook fan page. That's the no man's land. Or hell if you ever actually like any of my movies, go rate/review them on Amazon or IMDB and join me on the front lines with my eternal battle against the rage of the internet.
Thanks a lot for doing this. This was a lot of fun! You guys are awesome.
TMS: It's always a blast having you on, man. Thanks so much for your time, and from all of us at The Movie Sleuth, we cannot wait to see the new flicks!
You can check out the trailer and Indiegogo page for How to Save Us here
Jason Trost's Facebook fan page
- interview by J.G. Barnes