Interview : Dwayne Buckle, director of ‘Cybornetics’
Director Dwayne Buckle at work
In his second feature writer/director Dwayne Buckle brings us cyborgs, action and moral ambiguity. A group of scientists are involved in a race to develop a cyborg, their project being a hybrid human. Starring Raw Leiba of Conan the Barbarian, Cybornetix is released in 2012.
EOS : When did you first start getting into filmmaking?
When I was 16, I had a video production class at Art & Design highschool in NYC in which we had an assignment to write, produce & edit a tv commercial. I enjoyed learning the fundamentals of video editing and writing the assignment with my partner but it never came to fruition because we were clowning around too much in the class, and I eventually failed that class. But the concepts of writing, producing and editing stuck with me. When I was 18 years old, I had my own 2 bedroom apartment, which I converted into a recording studio and a small indie record label. I used to produce records of local musical groups and because money was limited I needed a way to produce music videos for these groups. I purchased a used Sony Hi-8 camera from a pawn shop in Harlem and bought 2 flying erase head VCR’s at The Wiz on Steinway Street in Astoria and set up a small video studio in the apartment. I also had an old reel to reel recorder that I used for playback for a bunch of music videos in which I produced and directed for these groups. This experience was very productive for me as I began experimenting with video styles and techniques. I soon after began writing scripts and started to produce a little variety show that had it’s own host and incorporated sketch comedy, documentary and music video. I showed it to a local television producer at the time when I delivered a package to his Manhattan office (I was also a part-time bike messenger back then) and he liked the project so much, he inspired me to continue with my efforts.
EOS : Who’s your favorite director and what are your influences?
I have a few favorite directors; I guess it’s kinda like what’s your favorite food. It depends on the mood your in I guess. But I guess the one director that I’ve admired the most not just of their film work but personal struggles as well is probably believe it or not James Cameron, who rose up to be a very successful director from a humble career as a truck driver. I’m not a fan of all his work but for sure, Terminator, Rambo, Aliens, The Abyss, Strange Days & Avatar were all great works in my book. But then again, Spike Lee, David Lynch, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas (Great inspiration of film sound for me), Tim Burton (we have the same birthday), Michael Mann, Jim Jarmush, Cronenburg (I am still amazed at how good The Fly was and still is), DePalma, Tarantino, Scorsese could all be favorites at some point, I guess depending on what mood I’m in. In the next interview I’ll probably say it’s Tarrantino.
EOS : What was the inspiration behind “Cybornetics”?
Is probably the 6 million dollar man, that has got to be one of my favorite old school television shows of all time. Cybornetics is pretty much the urban indie 6 million dollar man of the new millennium. The cost of this robot is approx 1.2 billon (appropriated for inflation and higher end neural processing.) I always liked the idea of a bionic human, but I didn’t think the television show at the time expanded much into the details of how the actual technology worked in conjunction with the brain. In Cybornetics these explanations are intelligently examined and with the reality of neural networks and nano-technology, we have a more realistic and accurate picture of how this would work in a real world situation. In Cybornetics we focus less on bionic limb technology, but more on the merger between the organic brain and self-advancing nature of neural processors, and how the brain first feeds information from its biological components to the neural processors until the point of singularity in which the neural processors don’t need any more biological input and can regulate the organic body on it’s own without any assistance from the brain.
EOS : Do you think that cyborgs will be realized in your lifetime?
Cyborgs are already here and here to stay, not the 2 ton hunk of metal with a space-aged Gatling gun in place of its right arm, the kind we see in comic books and old sci-fi movies but Cyborgs are In forms we came to accept and live with everyday. For example the iphone can be considered a cyborg, Facebook and Youtube or cyborgs, these incorporate sophisticated neural networks that can learn more about you over time, to the point where you don’t have to really input much information, they already know from the culmination and analysis of world input and data, more about you and your tastes and interests than you may know about yourself. At one point these devices wouldn’t need any additional input, they would have already stored the wealth of the worlds history and information that they can be practically considered an actual brain. Cyborg bodies can be easily produced, and can vary in ability and structure, depending on it’s overall usage, it’s the Cyborg brain that matters the most.
EOS : What did you want from the casting of Ice – who is this character?
Ice is one of the most important characters in the movie, most of the characters in the movie or either scientists or doctors but Ice has some of the most sophisticated dialogue in the movie and is neither a doctor nor scientist. Ice is some sort of a local drug kingpin who uses people in the neighborhood to expand his drug empire, one of his employees, Charles Benjamin, has come to a crossroads with Ice and has opted out of the drug business, this decision is not favorable to Ice and in this scenario embarks the beginning of the Cybornetics story. I wanted in Ice a physically strong and intimidating character, but who also conveyed a strong psycho-analytical and literal take on the world around him, in this I didn’t want to actually make Ice the bad guy in the movie, but actually a person who is neither bad nor good, whatever preconceived notions you may have had about him at first sight, may be changed as we reveal a person of extensive worldly insights, who is extremely intellectual and philosophical. I found all of these qualities and more in an actor by the name of Raw Leiba, a fantastic performer who embodied the physique and ferociousness of Ice who was able to deliver an intellectually stimulating and philosophically sophisticated performance.
EOS : What advice, from personal experience, would you give to other aspiring independent movie directors?
Go with the flow of the universe, if that’s what you love to do then go for it, if you get rejected, and you truly want to be a filmmaker with all your heart and passion, then practice harder and keep perfecting the craft, if you embody the spirit of the universe, then whatever you focus hard at doing will eventually become a reality, so just keep moving and never slow down. Things that are in motion will stay in motion and things that are at rest will stay at rest, basic law of physics.
EOS : What other projects are you working on?
I am currently also in the middle of post-production on a short sci-fi film series known as The Glasses, I wrote and shot a second episode of this little sci-fi short that is now in LA being edited by an amazing editor named Bodie Orman. This film is a sequel to a short film by the same title, which I shot in 2006. The first short was well received, I spent less than $1000 to make it, but it ended up selling over 2400 DVDs, getting a foreign distribution deal in Russia and winning top prize for short/fantasy/horror at the 2008 Houston International Film festival (Worldfest). So at the request of hundreds of fans, I decided to do a sequel, and I think it’s a lot better than the first, as far as the writing, character development and special effects. Also, I am currently producing a feature length documentary about the neighborhood I grew up in known as The Long Island City Arts Project aka (ART LIC) about the iconic artistic movement happening in that neighborhood, it’s a really cool project as I interview a variety of local artists in the neighborhood with really fantastic and innovative work, including one of my favorite indie film hero’s’ Lloyd Kaufman of TROMA Films fame, I sat down with him for a fun and in-depth interview about his lengthy career as an outspoken artist and indie film legend going up against the grain of corporate Hollywood, truly interesting and eye opening documentary about Independent Art. The website is http://www.thelongislandcityartsproject.com