Brooklyn Oscar Nominees: “It’s Hard to Say No to Tom Hanks”

02/21/2012 11:30 AM |


Director Andrew Bowler and producer Gigi Causey, who lived in Brooklyn a while before decamping to Los Angeles last year, were nominated for an Oscar this year for their short film, Time Freak, a time-travel comedy. We spoke to both by email about Brooklyn, their film, and the sometimes surreal nomination experience.

Where in Brooklyn did you live?
Gigi moved into her South Williamsburg apartment in March of 03 and I joined her in 06. It was an awesome place that we loved dearly. Gigi had moved in when the south side of Williamsburg was not as nice as it is now so it was really cool to see it grow and change. We also did a lot of work on the backyard, which started as a garbage pile and is now an awesome space with a green lawn and flowers everywhere. We left there this past June to move out here to Los Angeles, it was very sad to say goodbye to that apartment and neighborhood.

How has your nominee experience been so far?
It’s pretty surreal and overwhelming. Every day there is another new amazing email in your inbox. It can be anything from an invitation from the Academy to a cool party to a note from an old friend who saw your name somewhere and reached out to say congratulations. It’s all part of the “pinch me” feeling that doesn’t seem to wear off.

Time Freak suggests you’re hyper-aware of the time-travel genre. Which movies informed your own?
I am a huge fan of Back to the Future, and we were both moved by the indie time-travel film Primer. We wanted to steal as much of Primer‘s art direction as we could, because we felt that they really nailed what a homemade time machine would really look like. I also wanted to write around things that I saw as less interesting time-travel traps. For example, there are no doubles of yourself in our movie. It’s a pretty established time travel convention, but I just didn’t know how I could do something new with the idea, so the main character just explains that aspect away.

The idea of being able to do-over an unpleasant interaction is something everyone thinks about; was there a specific event that gave you the idea to make a short about it?
I just thought it was funny that someone would misuse a time machine so badly. It’s a joke I shared with friends for years, that we might have a time machine but we’d only use it for petty stuff like changing a lunch order or wearing a different shirt to a party.

Have you seen the movies you’re up against? How do you fancy your chances?
The films we are up against are all really good. It’s fun to be a part of high-quality group like that. We have at least a one in five chance of winning, and beyond that it is truly impossible to tell how we fare. You have your choice of Internet predictions out there, which can range from us having a very good shot to having no shot. It’s funny to read.

Will you write a speech?
They have a lunch for the nominees very early in the process and while they have everyone together—and it is everyone—they encourage us (strongly) to prepare something and commit it to memory. Then they show you a video by Tom Hanks on how to give a good Oscar speech and he, too, asks you to please be prepared. So, since it’s hard to say no to Tom Hanks, we have prepared something. You only have 45 seconds before they play you off so it will be brief for sure. If we are lucky enough to be up there, we plan on mentioning the countless people who have helped and supported us in the collective 30+ years that Gigi and I have been working at this.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart