A lifelong fan of movies, Matt Osterman has become a feature filmmaker who has a great work ethic and a passion for grounded science fiction stories. Osterman’s last film was the fantastic 400 Days, and his latest project has him again working with SYFY Films by directing Hover. Wanting to learn more about this film, I was able to interview Osterman for ScifiPulse.
You can learn more about Osterman by visiting his homepage and following him on twitter @mattosterman. And you can learn more about Hover by liking it on Facebook, checking it out on Instagram, and following it on Twitter at @HoverMovie.
Hover will be available in theaters on June 29th and available on VOD and Digital HD on July 3rd.
Nicholas Yanes: We last talked in 2015 about your Syfy film, 400 Days. How has life been for you? Have you mastered any new dishes?
Matt Osterman: I’m probably busier than a human should be, and taking a break might be smart, but I have no real complaints. I’m very grateful.
Yanes: I thought 400 Days was fantastic. Looking back, how do you think you grew as a director from working on 400 Days?
Osterman: Thank you. That movie is turning out to be quite the little cult movie. It was a bit misunderstood upon release, but I think time has been its friend. And that’s a really good question! I’m not sure I quite have the distance (or acute self-awareness) to know exactly where I grew as I director, but I’m sure it’s substantial. You learn so much on every project and it would be impossible to not carry that forward.
Yanes: Outside of film production itself, what have you learned about the expected professionalism of this industry? Specifically, is there any advice you’d offer new filmmakers about how they should interact with others?
Osterman: Being a professional in this industry should be no different than any other. Treat people with respect and don’t be an asshole. Be honest. Over-communicate. Follow up. Finish. And it’s okay to say the words, “I don’t know.” Filmmakers get in trouble when they think aloof equals cool. It doesn’t.
Yanes: Your most recent film is Hover, which was written by and stars Cleopatra Coleman. What attracted you to this project?
Osterman: It obviously starts and stops with Cleo. She created this rich, future world that I really wanted to explore further. It also helps that she’s an incredible actress and this wouldn’t be some vanity project. She’s legit. And I’ve always had such artistic respect for producer Travis Stevens that I felt like I’d be in great hands.
Yanes: Directors are typically seen as the captain of a film’s production, but Hover allowed you to direct the writer of the script. What was it like being able to work so closely with the film’s writer?
Osterman: That was one of my first concerns as that kind of relationship can go sideways in a hurry, but it was honestly a great collaboration. Neither of us are precious about our words or contributions as long as it makes the movie better. And because she knew the script inside and out, I could always rely on her to help brainstorm a solution or tweak.
Yanes: From drones to CGI interfaces, Hover has a lot of impressive special effects. Is there a specific scene in the movie that was particularly challenging to setup so that the live action worked with the effects?
Osterman: There were a handful that I was nervous about. A big one in particular is at the VastGrow press conference. That scene has camera drones, puppet drones, CG drones, crowds of extras, driving, stunts, practical FX, and CG screen replacements. I’m just thankful we didn’t have any animals or children.
Yanes: You are from Wisconsin and currently live in Minnesota, two largely rural states. While most science fiction movies tend to be set in large cities, Hover is set a rural area. Do you feel that the rural setting adds a layer to Hover a stereotypical large city couldn’t?
Osterman: 100%. We could leverage the fact that urban vs. rural residents have a healthy distrust of one another. And I loved the idea of people living with one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Technology rarely moves in giant leaps. It’s a slow march that’s often hard to notice when you’re living in it (even though it seems to be moving faster these days). I was very excited to play with those contrasts.
Yanes: The technology and accompanying science in Hover looks so real that it feels like it will arrive in just a few days. How did this movie impact the way you think of drones and other technology?
Osterman: Technology in a vacuum is just that, but I’m nervous about the unintended consequences of unchecked technology and consolidated power. Drones are amazing tools and I’m excited for what they’re going to offer humanity moving forward, but they’re also being used to carry out some pretty dire things. Sadly, it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better.
Yanes: When people finish watching Hover, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
Osterman: That the future could be fun and diverse. Let’s not fuck it up.
Yanes: Finally, what are you working on that people can look forward to seeing?
Osterman: I wish I knew! I have five scripts in various genres and stages of development. One is exploring the low-level crypto-currency underground, another looking at time travel in a completely new way, one a straight-up horror, one about the collapse of the industrial agricultural system, and finally one that’s a cool twist on artificial intelligence that we haven’t seen yet. Hopefully we can do another interview in the next couple of years and get our answer.
And remember, you can learn more about Osterman by visiting his homepage and following him on twitter @mattosterman. And you can learn more about Hover by liking it on Facebook, checking it out on Instagram, and following it on Twitter at @HoverMovie.