Writer & Director Adam Mason discusses Black Antenna and His Collaboration with Alice In Chains

FIlmmaker wise, David Fincher is a huge inspiration to me, both as a director and as a technician.  He and Kubrick are my film making idols."

One of the newest things to hit the internet in recent months is a 10 part series called Black Antenna, which is a collaboration between writer and director Adam Mason and the popular Grunge Band Alice In Chains. 

The film, which will eventually get a release theatrically tells the story of a couple of aliens who are trying to get home. And the soundtrack is provided by Alice In Chains with a selection of songs from their Grammy-nominated album ‘Rainier Fog’

SciFipulse was recently lucky enough to be able to speak with Adam Mason about the film and what inspired the idea. Continue to read to see what he shared with us.

 

SciFiPulse: How did you get involved with writing and directing for film, and who would you say has inspired you the most as a creator?

Adam Mason: It was just what I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid. After I saw Jaws basically when I was eight. Ever since then I’ve been making stuff, starting with shorts, then I got into doing music videos, then ultimately feature films. 

I’ve made around 200 music videos now, and am just finishing up my 8th feature (for Blumhouse). Black Antenna will be my ninth feature-length movie.

Creatively I’ve always been very inspired by artists and photographers. Guys like Lucian Freud, Basquiat, Bacon, Joel Pieter Witkin, Crewdson. 

FIlmmaker wise, David Fincher is a huge inspiration to me, both as a director and as a technician.  He and Kubrick are my film making idols. 

I’ve made it my mission to know as much as I can about every facet of film making, and I’ve got to a pretty good level now with a lot of it. 

With Black Antenna, for example, I’ve done most of the creative side of it myself… I do all the lighting and camerawork, I edit, my wife and I produced it… I came up with the concept, wrote it with Paul. 

I just really love all sides of filmmaking… it’s like a drug to me, something I live and breathe.  

SFP: Where did the idea come from for Black Antenna?

Adam Mason: I get most of my ideas wondering around, looking at stuff and thinking.  I was walking back home from my office one-day last year, and there’s a huge homeless problem in LA right now which I find really depressing. 

I often look at the people I walk past and wonder what their story is, how they ended up where they are, what their day to day life is like compared to mine. 

It’s almost like they are invisible, most people go out of their way to ignore them. Walking home that day, it made me think people view and treat homeless people almost like aliens.

I also had been wanting to do something on this level with Paul Sloan for a long time.  Years actually.  We’ve done a load of awesome shorts and music videos together.  He’s just the most amazing human being, and talented motherfucker.  An insanely talented actor and writer.  

He’s been the hugest component of Black Antenna and I couldn’t have done it without him.  Paul’s the kind of guy where I say ‘meet me in an hour, I need to cover you in white slime’ and he’ll be there early.  In a city where everyone just moans and wants money, Paul believes in me.  And that means the world to me.  He loves doing this stuff as much as I do.

SFP: Why did you decide to release it in ten mini episodes before having it released as a theatrical film?

Adam Mason: You know, its really hard to get a film made these days, so I’ve been finding different ways to get things going. 

I think we’re the first people to ever do this, to take a whole album from a huge band and do a video for every song, and a feature film.  And so the idea of combining my two greatest loves of music videos and movies ultimately gave birth to this beautiful monster.

The band has been so supportive of my vision for this thing. I couldn’t be more appreciative.  It’s been a hell of an opportunity and I’ve loved every minute of doing it.

SFP: You’ve collaborated with the Rock Band Alice in Chains on the film. How did that collaboration come about and what is it about their songs and music that works so well with Black Antenna?

Adam Mason: I was meeting with Alice In Chains coincidently that same day I had the idea about the homeless aliens.  

They wanted to talk to me about the possibility of doing a video, or some videos for them, and on the drive over there, I couldn’t get this image out of my head of these two homeless people, living out of their old truck, who were actually aliens, trying to get home, wherever they were. 

When I met the band, and Jerry started telling me about the new album, and the themes of the lyrics, I just kind of blurted out this mad concept for what would ultimately become Black Antenna.

And to my surprise, they really loved the idea, and now here we are, in the thick of it!

Basically, I think they were just looking for something cool and unusual to do for Rainier Fog, and it just so happened that I had the idea for Black Antenna that exact same day, and it just all married together in this really unique way.  It was this mad synergy.

It was funny when Paul and I were writing it, I was listening to a pre-release of the album, and the lyrics and music really spoke to me on a very deep level. 

I don’t know how the guys in the band feel, politically, or in terms of the state of the world, but I’m pretty sure we’re on the same fucking page because the lyrics really fed into what we ended up creating. 

I’ve said before that it’s not a political movie when it kinda is.  Not in any preachy kind of way, it’s just interesting to frame some of the bullshit and madness that’s going on in the world right now through the lens of Black Antenna.   

At its heart, the films about what home means, and what family means, and how come some people are welcome, and others aren’t.

The band has given me a huge amount of creative freedom. I couldn’t be more excited about the project, it has been a dream come true to do something like this. 

I also love that Black Antenna gets to such a wide audience and exposure through the band. They have this extraordinary legacy, I’m a huge fan and have been for twenty years… and just being a small part of that is pretty extraordinary for me.  They’re a juggernaut and we’re this tiny thing tagging along for the ride.

SFP: Black Antenna is a sort of mix of horror and science fiction. If you were to try and pitch the project to an Alien from another world. What would you say about the film in order to sell it? And what other movies would you say it compares favorably too?

Adam Mason: I suppose I was influenced by movies that are obvious comparisons, like Starman, Blade Runner, or Under The Skin… but also some less obvious stuff like American Honey, which I loved.

It’s also weirdly influenced by Pinocchio… Beta, the female character in the movie is an alien who dreams of being human. 

I love the fact that Black Antenna puts the audience in the shoes of these two aliens, who are looking at humanity from the outside in.  I always saw it as this indie movie prequel to a massive movie like Independence Day.  When our little movie ends, a huge movie like that would begin.  

This is the origin story of a blockbuster, basically.

SFP: Having now worked with Alice In Chains. Are there any other bands or musicians that you’d like to try and collaborate with on other projects?

Adam Mason: I just did a movie for Blumhouse and Hulu that Chino Moreno of Deftones did the score for, which was another bucket list thing for me.  And he totally killed it!

I’m the hugest music fan, so there are too many bands to mention that I’d love to work with… But to answer your question, Nick Cave would be my dream.  Him and Johnny Marr.

SFP: When will Black Antenna get its theatrical release and are there any plans to try and get it on Netflix or Amazon at some future date?

Adam Mason: We’re working on getting all ten of the music video chapters released first… but we’ve had some incredibly exciting interest in the feature film version of Black Antenna.  

It’s crazy the reaction it’s had.  People love it so much.  It’s too early to talk about all that now, but we have very high hopes!  It’s been like a marathon, and I’m just trying to get to the end of the first leg right now.

Before we go, I should also take a second to thank my cast and crew.  This whole thing has been such a labor of love, and while I like to pretend like it’s all me, it’s really not 🙂

My wife and producer Elizabeth Mason put the whole production together.  She’s the glue that holds this momentous task together and none of it would have been possible without her.  

She did it with the help of Nick Vallelonga, who wrote and produced Green Book, and has been a wonderful ally and inspiration to me over the years.  The guy just won two Oscars.  And now he’s producing Black Antenna?!!???

When we shot the Joshua Tree stuff in the beginning of Black Antenna, my truck (which is Alpha’s ride in the movie) had a massive blow out on the freeway, and Nick basically drove the actors eight hours for me to get my shots.  

This is a super successful guy who believes in me and the project.  That’s uncommon, particularly in Hollywood.  Nicks more successful than probably almost anyone in the world right now… and yet here he is, helping me with my crazy Alice In Chains film.  Go figure.  I bow before him.  He’s a legend.

Another Green Book alumni is Mike Hatton, who’s our executive producer.  Mikes an old friend of mine, and a huge Alice fan.  He’s been another cornerstone of Black Antenna.  Elizabeth and I call him with the most ridiculous requests and he never bats an eyelid.  Rooster was the first song he learned to play on guitar.  

I guess he’d do anything for Jerry, which is kind of how I feel too!

Jason Collins is the best practical Fx guy in the world in my humble opinion.  His credits include the last Blade Runner movie and he’s an absolute genius.  He’s given me more than I ever asked for and been by my side on this from day one.  He keeps turning up on set to do the FX himself, and this is a guy who runs a MASSIVE FX company employing scores of people.  His devotion to me and this project is so far beyond the call of duty it’s almost embarrassing to me.

Then we have our extraordinary cast.  Paul is my hero and I’ve already spoken about him. 

But then we have Viktoriya, and Darri and Lilly and Luke.  I keep asking them to do more and more crazy stuff and everyone is just there for me and the project, every time. 

As they say, it takes a village.  And now here we are with Black Antenna.

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
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