Chris Vanderhorst, the director of “Lifelike” (awarded Best Sci-Fi short in ISA’s July season), reveals how long it took to bring life to this film about a heartbroken woman who orders a lifelike android.
A native of the east coast, Chris Vanderhorst in need of a career change, moved to California to pursue a career in filmmaking. Having worked on short films and indie features, Chris soon decided that his love was with the long form of storytelling.
ISA: What are your overall career goals?
Chris Vanderhorst: I love both ﬁlm and television. I’m currently developing a feature ﬁlm that I plan to make towards the end of the year. I also have a pilot script in the ﬁnal writing stages. So, I guess my goals are simply to be consistently working as a ﬁlm writer/director or in the writer’s room. I think my ultimate goal would be working as a showrunner.
ISA: How did you decide that “Lifelike” was the movie you wanted to make?
CV: It became about a woman strong enough to go out on her own terms. She was extremely unhappy and had this desire to get revenge for whatever reason. In the ﬁlm, she wants closure, sexual closure? Sure. But ultimately, she wants payback and a way out. So she gets closure threefold. I love “The Twilight Zone” and this story to me made sense in that world, so that’s when I decided that this was the story I wanted to tell. Now that shows like “Black Mirror” and “Room 104” are bringing back the anthology, I think “Lifelike” was made at the perfect time.
ISA: How did you get the idea?
CV: I was sitting on my porch, beer in hand and it hit me. What if someone woke up and there was an android in their home? Why? And it all came tumbling down.
ISA: How long was this shoot?
CV: The shoot was a single day, six-hour shoot. We shot everything with the Helen and the Lifelike and then shot the phone conversation after. The voiceover by the amazing H. Richard Greene was recorded two years later. Yeah, the ﬁlm ‘sat on a shelf’ for two years because I wasn’t happy with it. It wasn’t until I imagined H. Richard Greene doing the voice that I realized what was missing from the project.
ISA: Do you have any advice for other ﬁlmmakers?
CV: Make movies that you wanna see. Don’t try to copy what’s popular or what will get you noticed. If you love the story it will show.
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