Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 by David Chen
We first learned some details about Rian Johnson’s next planned sci-fi film, Looper, back in September. The film’s logline cryptically read, “Looper is set in a present-day world in which a group of hitmen are sent their victims from the future,” although Johnson assured fans that there was much more to the film than that.
I had the opportunity to chat with director Rian Johnson last night at IFFBoston while The Brothers Bloom was screening to a packed theater. My full /Filmcast interview with him (where we discuss symbolism in Bloom, as well as that film’s ending) will be going up on the site shortly, but in the meantime, hit the jump for some details about the next script he’s working on, a sci-fi film called Looper.
It should be noted that Johnson is still working on the second draft of the script and thus, any and all of these details may be different by the time the film goes into production. Among the elements of the film that Johnson revealed:
- The film will be set roughly thirty years in the future
- The film will depict a dystopian society that has gone to “hell.”
- A disruptive element will have traveled back in time from even further in the future
- The time travel element is part of the setup, much like in The Terminator, but not an active ongoing part of the story
- Looper will be “very dark, very violent. It’s the exact opposite of Bloom.”
You can also click below for the relevant segment of audio from my interview, where Johnson talks about his process in writing the film. I’ve transcribed the relevant portions for those of you less sonically inclined:
David: Can you tell us a little bit about – I think your next film is a sci-fi film entitled Looper?
Rian: Actually, I’m working on the second draft of it right now. Time travel is a bitch, man…<laughter> I mean, it’s not even, the time travel aspect isn’t that complicated, but it’s the fact that it’s kind of set in the near future. It’s not like Minority Report, we’re not dealing with a ton of crazy technology. And the time travel aspect of it is similar to the way time travel is used in the first Terminator, where it’s part of the setup but it’s not a part of the ongoing story. But still, once you introduce those elements, it just becomes a constant game of – for me, my focus in writing has become simplifying, and focusing on how little information you can get away with having to impart, and keep the audience hooked. Because it’s so easy to just start overexplaining everything and fall into a trap, where, y’know, there’s so much stuff that you’ll have answers for, but you have to take a moment and realize, okay, the point of this is not to lay out some grand mythology in terms of how your time travel scheme works. The point of this is to tell a story and keep people watching. So it becomes a balance of narrative vs. information.
David: Any other details on the premise or time period?
Rian: It’s kind of vague but I would guess it’s like 30 years in the future. And it’s in a world where everything has very much gone to hell. It’s kind of a…
Rian: No, its’ not post-apocalyptic, but it’s dystopian? Is that the right…let’s say there was a huge financial collapse of some sort.
David: So they travel backwards using technology from the future?
Rian: They travel backwards but, like I said, the first Terminator thing is very apt. An element has traveled back from the future, but our entire story takes place in our “present day,” which is 30 years from now.