On this episode we we’re honored to interview James Ward Byrkit, the Director of Coherence, one of Mike’s favorite indie films of late. It’s available for streaming on Amazon or downloand on iTunes. We had our own Anatomy of a Scene breakdown of Coherence as we asked James, How did you do that?
James Ward Byrkit – Writer/Director is known for Rango (2011), Coherence (2013) and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003).
James comes from a background in theater and music, mixed with an obsession with graphic arts. As a designer, he visualized conceptual spectacles for his longtime creative cohort, director Gore Verbinski. Since childhood, Jim has been concocting strange tales that weave fantasy elements with realistically-toned storytelling. Coherence is his first directed feature film.
On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events. Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, COHERENCE is a tightly focused, intimately shot film that quickly ratchets up with tension and mystery.
COHERENCE – Official Theatrical Trailer (HD)
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Scott Tobias from TheDissolve.com wrote this very eloquent breakdown of James Byrkit’s prior hollywood fame along with a little behind the scenes breakdown of Coherence. Here’s a snippet of his article.
Prior to making a feature directorial debut with the ingenious science-fiction brain-teaser Coherence, James Ward Byrkit made short films and commercials, and worked closely with Gore Verbinski as a storyboard artist and illustrator on the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies. Given the careful planning that goes into a Verbinski production, Byrkit’s collaboration with him was always close, but it got closer still when the two wrote the story for the eccentric animated movie Rango together.
Byrkit has finally stepped out on his own with Coherence, a micro-budgeted indie that makes up in big ideas what it lacks in resources. Released to excellent reviews—including an Essential Viewing tag from The Dissolve—the film combines a mind-bending premise with surprisingly thoughtful and emotional underpinnings.
Shot over five nights in Byrkit’s house, Coherence takes place at a dinner party as a comet streaks across the sky overhead, causing a strange disruption in the basic firmament of reality. Of the eight friends who gather for the party, which roils with gossip and romantic tension even before the night takes a turn, Em (Emily Foxler) figures most prominently, but at least initially, Byrkit takes a greater interest in how her friends function (or don’t) as a collective. A power outage, some cracked cell phones, a single house that’s illuminated down the street:
So begins a series of mysteries that deepen as the guests investigate and get embroiled in a phenomenon that may or may not be explained by quantum physics. Byrkit recently spoke with The Dissolveabout the heavily improvised (and heavily planned) five-night shoot, the film’s Twilight Zone influence, and how he planned a movie that would keep revealing new information on multiple viewings.