Somewhere out in deep space, a man with amnesia wakes up in a a bar and finds himself surrounded by eccentric cosmic outcasts—trapped, down on their luck, and inclined to song. This is the setting of upcoming film, “The Waystation in the Stars.”
Director Brandon Morrissey said recruiting for the film has been easy. He said the job proposal is along the lines of “Hey! I’m making an existential sci-fi musical dramedy about some people that are marooned in time and space. There’s singing, dancing, drinking and fighting! Want to come on board?”
The film has a talented crew already in its midst. Famed fight choreographer Marcus Watson will be doing the combat. Lisa Helmi Johanson from Avenue Q will be making the costumes alongside fashion designer Lyssa Kay, and J. Morgan White who just finished up with Cats will choreograph the dances.
Morrissey said the film is the culmination of all the things he loves. He’s a big fan of American folk music and Dustbowl Era traveling entertainment, and has background in film, TV, and musical theater.
“I love the foundations of American showmanship and I wanted to find a way to bring those elements and traditional musical theatricality into film—especially a sci-fi film because I felt like that was a mash-up that hadn’t been done,” he said.
The film has evolved quite a bit. Originally, it was going to be set in a gothic coffeehouse Morrissey found in Long Island, and rather than being a sci-fi story, it was more of a H.P. Lovecraft tale of a couple’s car breaking down in front of creepy, cultist café.
“The story was a little too hazy for my taste and I was waiting until something came to legitimize why people would be doing musical theater numbers in the first place,” he said.
What came along was a scientific discovery about cloaking time. The concept of scientists trying to erase events from history by using a cloaking mechanism got his wheels turning.
[pullquote_right]Being erased from history is a traumatic experience and I think it left them all a little mad![/pullquote_right]
“What would happen if, in the future, we were able to cloak moments in time completely? Would there be a biological event? Would a person who is detached from time survive? Where would that person’s consciousness end up? What would the sociological impacts be on the temporal world?” Morrissey said.
“That technology was the keystone that really locked down the story,” he said. “Suddenly I had a good reason to have a bunch of people crowded together in a strange place.”
When the main character, Flynn, first arrives, others in the Waystation greet him with their regular welcome song. Morrissey compared it to “Be Our Guest” from “Beauty and the Beast,” which he notes is a story about a girl “who ends up in an enchanted place with bunch of trapped ‘people.’ They try to sing her this, in my opinion, very dysfunctional song about how great a situation they are in when the reality is that they’re all prisoners in a hell.”
“It’s a similar situation with us at the Waystation,” he said. “The noire and mystery elements work through the amnesia and it all ties together to tell a story in a pretty unique way!”
The unique qualities of the different characters will be a key part of the film. Morrissey said he insisted that in this sci-fi film, everything should have a clear motive and logic—including the song and dance.
“The bar is discovered through Flynn’s observations but every character has a reason for being in the situation and a method of coping,” he said. “The song and dance number itself is a method of coping for all of the bar patrons. Being erased from history is a traumatic experience and I think it left them all a little mad!”
And this has meaning. After all, aren’t we all just floating around some strange ball of earth somewhere in the vast universe, trying to cope during our search for meaning?
Morrissey thinks so—but more in a way symbolic of the strange place humankind has found itself, socially, politically, economically, and technologically.
“In just 10 years we’ve seen a majority of our social barriers break down and everyone is trying to find a compass of sorts to orient themselves,” he said. “That sense of disorientation and finding a community in the midst is exactly what ‘The Waystation in the Stars’ is about.”
The film is coming along, although things in film and theater tend to tighten up financially in early winter. But Morrissey is raising funds for the film through Kickstarter, and things seem to be coming along well.
[box_light]Images courtesy of Brandon Morrissey[/box_light]