Films made by Riley Stearns are hard to categorize and unforgettable. his debut, Faultand his follow-up, The art of self-defense, can be described as a drama and a karate movie, respectively, but neither of those titles represent the intensity and dark comedy present in both films. His third characteristic, DoubleNo exception, as Stearns takes the sci-fi concept of a woman trying to kill her own clone and makes it even weirder, mixing cold humor with subtle critiques of capitalism, reality TV, and the sly nature of identity. combine.
Digital Trends recently discussed with Stearns Double, why he chose to work with Karen Gillan, and why he thinks his latest film is more than just a sci-fi movie. He also talks about the challenges of making the film during the COVID-19 pandemic, and why horror could be the next genre for his work.
Note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Digital Trends: You mentioned in a previous interview that you were inspired Double Because you want to see an actor play against yourself. Where did this idea come from?
Riley Stern: The idea of putting the actors in front of me and letting this play out came from a short film I wanted to make in between Fault and The art of self-defense Call Niche Market I’ve never really done it. At the end of that short, the protagonist finally enters a time loop where he briefly interacts with himself. I really like the idea, but I know it’s not a long-form idea yet.So I asked myself, “What do I do now?” That was the core of an idea that eventually became Double.
How did you recruit Karen Gillan for the lead role?
We were at the same agency and at one point her name came up and I remember thinking “she’s going to be cool in this movie.” I’d never seen her like that before. So we had coffee, and at the end, I thought, “She’s a wonderful person.” We don’t have to talk about this movie. You can talk about life, you can talk about your friends and family and what you’re doing. I know she’s talented, so it’s not a question of whether she can do it, it’s more of who she is as a person? I take this very seriously. Life is short. When you work with people you don’t get along with or who aren’t there for good reason, you really sell yourself short. I just love that she really cares. At the end of the meeting, I just asked her “Do you want to do this?” She said yes. It’s that easy.
Your previous work was mostly drama or comedy. As a filmmaker, what are your interests in the sci-fi genre?
As a fan, I just love sci-fi movies, period. I like to think of my films as black comedies in my own way.although Double It has sci-fi elements, I wouldn’t actually call it a sci-fi movie. I think it happens to happen in a space where there is science fiction, but it’s not a duel about death. It’s about the relationships between these characters, and all science fiction is just set up for that.you can call The art of self-defense A karate movie, but I felt like it was selling short films. I think it’s not just karate movies that happen there. I think it happens to be a movie with karate, if that makes sense.
Absolutely. “Double Personality” in Film Has a Grand Tradition, by Brian De Palma sisters Christopher Nolan’s prestige, to name a few.what do you think Double Add to this sub-genre?
This is a tricky question.I’ve always been a fan of doppelganger or clone movies, but I wanted to join in and add a new perspective [to the genre]. I think I did it, for better or worse. Some people may disagree with my chosen point of view, but this is what I want to bring.You can go the really big budget route and have Will Smith fight his clones on a motorcycle [in the Ang Lee movie Gemini Man]. You can enjoy it as it is, it is an entertainment. But my version is much smaller by design. It’s more about where you are going in life. When you see this “better” version of yourself, do you accept it or say, “Okay, I need to get better too.” I think that’s why this movie needs to be a clone. Sarah is actually facing herself. Then, figuratively, she begins to face her own choices, which pushes her further as a person.
What was the biggest challenge for you in this film?
The first thing that comes to mind is that we were shooting at the height of the pandemic. We prepared and filmed in Finland around August 2020. There was no vaccine at the time. At the time, there were only 3,000 cases in Finland’s population of 5 million. However, it’s still very, very scary. Every day you show up, you start to think that this might be the day we get shut down. It’s scary to always carry a load and know that one of our crew members and/or myself could get COVID. But at the end of the day, I think we followed safety procedures as much as possible. We always test very, very diligently. We ended up doing one shoot, and while it was a rough day, it ended up being the smoothest I’ve ever done on a film. This one just runs on time and runs efficiently, I’m definitely thankful for that crew.
If you had to fight your clone to the death, what would you do to defeat him?
So hopefully my clones won’t know jiu-jitsu, I’ve been doing it for nine years. I want an unarmed combat situation. Like Aaron Paul’s character Trent in the movie, I might try to blow up the arsenal so I can use our bodies to make it an unfair fight. Now, if a gun or weapon comes into play, I could be easily killed.
Is there a chance for a long story you always kill the people you lovea short horror movie parody Double?
I like to do that stuff. It took about four hours to shoot. I told the staff that relatively speaking, there will be 20 settings in this short period of time. Everyone was like, “What the hell? We’re not going to get through this.” I told them we took every shot. That’s all we do. We basically treated it as if we were shooting on film in the 80’s and shooting multiple times with zero budget. So we shot everything as fast and easy as possible.
That movie was so much fun to shoot.I love that there are sequels in the world Double. Maybe this has the potential to end up in the movie. I love that Trent said it was a worse movie, but it was more violent, like it was a good thing.
what movie did you think of when you made the movie you always kill the people you love?
I would say a lot of 80s brutal horror movies.For the effect of blood, I told Sarah [Yli-Luopa]our special effects makeup artist, thinks like Dario Argento, like in gust. Yes, we really like neon lights for this. A lot of movie inventory from the 80s was also very, very bad. There was a time when Kodak just wanted to make something that didn’t look that expensive, so we’re also really trying to approach it that way.Then Emma Ruth Rendell’s score in that section was guided gust And that Italian horror space. This was one of the funniest parts of filming.
The score for this part is very goblin-like.
Yes, that’s right! I’m glad you got it.
I know you’ve worked in a lot of different genres, so maybe your next movie could be a horror movie?
I would love to do something scary. I would never make a straight horror or drama movie. There will always be an element that subverts expectations of the genre. While I love watching a straight-up horror movie, and I love the genre, I think I only do it from another perspective. Maybe people will think it’s pretentious, but I feel it’s true to myself. I’d love to figure something out at some point.
Double Released in theaters and available for streaming.