An Interview With Atomic Productions
With their slick, stylish, creatively-inventive spoofs of two of last years most accomplished and masterfully-made films, Atomic Productions' parody trailers of Inception and The Social Network – respectively known as Inebriation and The Brocial Network – have together grossed just under 2 million views on YouTube.
Not bad considering their combined production takes up but a small portion of the group's already highly impressive filmography: made on a shoe-string budget, answering a challenge by creative director Andrew Adam's college professor, who urged the group to try “something funny with that sort of grave seriousness” that they knew so well.
As Adams informs us, “What's most important in the parody trailers is that we have a supreme love and admiration for the films we spoof and also that offered sort of a challenge to replicate technically. Secondly, subject-matter and theme are things that have to come organically. Inebriation was somewhat of a 'eureka' moment, in that the concept of alcohol seemed to naturally just make sense with the film. The Brocial Network took more deliberation, because we knew if we made another parody we wanted to dedicate that time to parodying 'The Social Network', but it took us a week or two of thinking up lines and reworking themes to get to the broad 'Bro' style that we ended on.
"A lot of that was reworking the line “I can't wait to stand over your shoulder and watch you buy us a keg”, and from there cementing our ability to re-record and rewrite the 'Creep' cover into our own original track 'Wanna Be A Bro' - which I'm particularly fond of. I think a lot of the theme, drinking and being 'bro', can come off as a crutch to some viewers, but the truth is its what we see as most organically workable and salient in our lives right now, that sort of 'collegiate' edge - and it's been fun to capitalise on it. You'll see more of that in our latest work,” he teases.
Based out of Texas, Atomic Productions was established by brothers Andrew and Ben Adams through a love of making short films for fun in childhood and a desire to make films in a more serious, professional manner. As Adams explains, “with some of our other core friends (notably brothers Chase and Reese Arrington – both of whom are featured actors in our projects)” and in aligning with “some incredibly talented people and great friends in the years since, we've created what we currently consider 'Atomic' – a sort of family/friends collaboration”.
Adams references film-makers “that inspire without overlording [and those] people that have broth broad vision and respect for their teams”; noting David Fincher (Se7en, The Social Network), Tony Scott (Top Gun, True Romance) and Oscar-winning sibling duo the Coen Brothers (Fargo, No Country For Old Men) as particular influences.
Like Adams' accredited inspirations whom have each made films in a variety of disparate genres from one film to the next, Atomic has displayed a knack for film-making across the genre divide. With Pages, the group has shown a wealth of talents in non-linear narrative and pure drama, while Zero/Hour, with its high-concept status, has seen the crew delve into science-fiction and time-travelling.
“I think as film-makers it's always important to check ourselves on the work we do and make sure we're progressing and challenging ourselves to do better and try new things,” Adams reveals. A set of requirements for a University Of Texas assignment has even proved Atomic adept in dialogue-free narration with Bury The Hatchet, an assured and invariably tense tale of revenge and redemption made over the course of one night.
The production's quick turnaround – from conceptualising the film, to writing, filming and editing - is one all too familiar with Atomic Productions, who have made a significant portion of their short films during Dallas's annual 24-Hour/48-Hour Videorace competitions that sees groups of film-makers tasked with making a short based on a set of criteria over a 24-hour/48-hour period respectively.
“The 24-Hour is definitely a competition of fondness, and probably nostalgia too foe us, because of the sheer numbers of of years we've competed in it – and the resulting experiences we've gained in each outing,” Adams asserts. “Do we work well under pressure? I think, like any group, there are stresses and conflicts that inevitably come out while under pressure, but I've always been extremely proud of our team and the work we product under time constraints because of the way we endure it all. I think it sort of inspires a collective labour of love on whatever the project is, and that often helps instil a bit of 'heart and soul' into the final project.”
“When we began [competing] we were freshman in high school and we didn't really know what we were doing, we just jumped head-first into the race. It was enthralling, truly indescribable. Such a surge of teamwork and vision and efficiency, it's all about the rush and excitement the contest creates. We weren't entirely happy with the end-product, but it taught us a valuable lesson in working a project to completion,” he recalls, “and since then, I think more than technical precision or cohesive storytelling, we've matured in the continual challenge to better understand each other and the vision of the project we're trying to make.”
Though the team has already been subjected to the cruel world of film financing and business dealings – their latest project, action-comedy A Long Walk In Mexico, is left in “development hiatus” after its financer left - this month sees the release of the group's “last comedic project for what will probably be a long time”, a parody of the trailer for Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling's film Drive. Adams enthuses, “we've been really happy with how it's turned out and can't wait to release it. It's definitely a big leap, production value-wise, so we're itching to show it to the world.”
“Past that, we're pushing into darker, more dramatic territory over the next few months. We've been developing a longer-format crime drama that we're going into production on later this month, and hopefully an adaptation of the short story 'A Good Man Is Hard To Find' by Flannery O'Connor as well.” Adams', and indeed Atomic Productions', enthusiasm for film is infectious, undaunted by their packed schedule and heavy work-load which is to follow. If their YouTube company portfolio is anything to go by, displaying the group's knack for intelligent, dramatic film-making, then their future is certainly one to look ahead to. Adams caps it off perfectly, “it's really exciting times [for us] and we can't wait.”
A big thank-you to Andrew Adams and the team at Atomic for agreeing to this interview. Find out more about Atomic Productions and their latest projects via Facebook fan page or Twitter @AtomicTx. View all their stuff beyond what we've picked on the YouTube channel.