Yedidya Gorsetman is the director of a new sci-fi film that, though compared with “Pi” and “Primer”, is much more “Being John Malkovich”.
“Empathy, Inc” hits On demand on Tuesday.
How did you become a filmmaker, sir?
After college I started a production company with our producer Josh Itzkowitz. We made commercials and saved enough to make our first feature, a comedy called Jammed, in 2014. That was our film school, and I suppose that’s when I became a filmmaker.
And have you fused your interests growing up into the stories you write?
When I was a kid, my family used to vacation at a cabin on a lake with few amenities, so you really had to love the outdoors. A family friend who was a film buff and who had a VCR also stayed in a neighbouring cabin. Since I never really cared for the lake, I’d hang out at her cabin a lot. She loved horror films and had great taste in general, so my summers were spent watching films like The Shining, Birds, Psycho, The Exorcist, etc. I guess that has influenced my present ambition to make thoughtfully entertaining movies.
If you could name two films that most resemble this film, what would they be?
The film sometimes gets compared to Pi and Primer, and they were definitely references in terms of doing a big sci-fi story with scant resources. But conceptually and tonally the film is probably more similar to Being John Malkovich.
Being an independent film, I imagine you ended up wearing more hats than originally intended. Can you talk about all the things you did on the movie?
We’re sort of a three-person team. I’m the director, Mark Leidner is the writer, and Josh Itzkowitz is the producer, but by the time we had finished the movie, we had all poured a ton of hours into casting, locations, production design, logistics, legal, business stuff, you name it. Everyone held lights, drove vans, negotiated with vendors, and filled in festival submission spreadsheets. The crew we were lucky enough to hire also wore tons of hats. Our cinematographer Darin Quan, for example, was his own gaffer, cameraman, did after effects, coloring, and probably tons of other stuff I’ve forgotten. We knew it was going to be all hands on deck when we began, though, so there were few surprises in this regard.
How did you nab this fine cast?
We knew a great cast would be necessary to pull off the story’s many twists, not to mention the range emotions we were hoping to capture. We ended up working with casting director Harley Kaplan, who was awesome. He was patient and methodical and he saved us a bunch of time by bringing in multiple strong actors for each role. Then we had the hard but lucky decision of getting to choose our favorite among many good options. The cast we ended up with added so much more nuance and wit to the story than we ever expected.
Whose career would you like to emulate, if it were possible?
I think having a career in film is so difficult because there really is no clear path, and any path you are on is constantly changing. My favorite filmmakers all ended up with careers in pretty different ways. Honestly, if I’m able to have a career at all, no matter how I get there, I will feel extraordinarily blessed.
Tell us when the film hits.
Our film will be in theaters around the country starting September 13th, and on VOD platforms starting September 24.