These are some of the thoughts and questions that ran through my mind as I sat back in a packed theater going through the scientific and cinematic experience provided by MindGamers at the Empire at Time Square in New York City: What power the mind may, or may not, be capable of. The existence of multiple universes. The bravery to understand, and vision to explore, a darkness that may give as many questions as it does answers. How do you balance themes of science, religion, with the uniqueness of human experience, and the ability to entertain the masses? What is belief?
I was lucky enough to join a 1000 person bi-coastal audience intrigued by these ideas. While sitting among the masses, I wanted to believe in the idea that collective thought could create something of value, as I sat watching a film which represented the core ideals of this experiment in its visual form. In the end, I was not as satisfied as I expected to be. Several incredibly intelligent and qualified experts spoke to the audiences, as their faces and voices boomed off the screen. The audience’s data was then analyzed based on brain scanning headsets we were instructed to wear during the experiment. The mood of the audiences in both New York City and Los Angeles seemed to indicate people wanted more, after the results were hurried along. The results offered some explanation, but left more questions in my mind. However, one aspect which proved entertaining, visually memorizing and scientifically intriguing, was the film itself. MindGamers pulsed at the heart of its dark story, pitting religion versus science.
Directed by Andrew Goth and starring Sam Neill and Tom Payne, MindGamers creates a complete experience for the 90-minute running time. A visually beautiful world with unique characters, engrossing cinematography, complex themes, intelligent foundation, breathless movements, tension, horror and human emotion. After this event, I had a chance to grab Goth for a few minutes to explore a little bit more about this film. How the score of the film impacted on audiences, influences, choreography, balance and more for Diabolique.
Diabolique: Thank you Andrew for taking the time and answering some questions. When I watched MindGamers as part of the 1000 collective viewer experiment in New York City, it was an incredible vibe as a variety of personalities, as well as minds, were brought together for this. How do you feel about having the film at the center of that one-night only presentation?
Goth: It was surreal. It was definitely not the release I’d expected when making the movie. For 90 minutes, we were all part of cutting edge advancement in human connectivity — via tech. It felt like the beginning of something unique.
Diabolique: How did the story of MindGamers come to be? Was it part of the initial collective experiment or was this a solo project that inspired those to create the experiment around it?
Goth: More of the latter. I was not solo, Joanne Reay was my co-creator. We both got very excited with the Hadron Collider experiments, as science at that time was front page news. Could we create another big bang, reality shift, etc? As filmmakers, we had more questions. Embarking on MindGamers was one way to explore them.
Diabolique: It is obvious that at the heart of the film there has to be a personal love and passion, which sparked the story of a group of five students creating a collective mindset against a much larger experiment. What was it that provided the inspiration for you?
Goth: Personally, I wanted to explore infinite possibility. As you do. I remember being in a McDonald’s eating a Big Mac and reading an article about the Quantum Suicide Theory and the multiverse theory. An idea came. What if a human mind could fuse with a quantum computer, which unlike a binary computer, seems able to make sense of chaos? Would that human mind be able to experience every reality (in a multi-reality space) and then close down all realities it didn’t like, to exist only in the one perfect reality it had created? So, the human mind would become omnipotent, a Quantum Messiah, if you will. I thought that would be very cool.
Diabolique: While still original, there are hints from works like Hackers, Gamer, Repo, Stanley Kubrick and even Darren Aronofsky to be found in MindGamers. What artistic references did you draw on?
Goth: Difficult to name any one specific work that came to mind during the process. I grew up on Sergio Leone films and then saw 2001 which was a game changer. I love the anamorphic event of films. I also like a narrative that surprises me.
Diabolique: What was the biggest challenge in bringing all the ideas involved in MindGamers together?
Goth: Truly, convincing the money men it was worth doing. It was shot for a low budget compared to studio movies but it was still a lot of money for an out-there crazy idea. Without the support and vision of Walter Kohler, CEO of Terra Mater Film Studios in Vienna, the film would not have been made.
Diabolique: Can you talk about the battle of science versus religion at the heart of the story and how this influenced the character arcs throughout the film?
Goth: Joanne and I were fascinated when we heard that the Vatican was the largest funder into the search for ‘Dark Matter’ in space. It makes you think why? If a scientist has “faith” they must be searching for God. It’s an age old battle but now with the rise of technology I feel this battle will soon be over as the answers, one way or another, will soon be found.
Diabolique: What about casting for the film, how was the visual look (and costumes) for each lead was decided?
Goth: I wanted a cross-section of personalities and looks. The film is first and foremost an entertainment piece. It is supposed to work on different levels but not exclude anyone from having a popcorn eating time. I am no scientist, barely made it through school. So, I wanted the students in the film to be from every background. They needed to be seen to deal with everyday situations as well as cosmic ones. I didn’t want them in high collars and hover boots. Each actor was asked what they thought they should wear and we went from there.
Diabolique: Throughout the film, we see incredible action, dance and energy. Can you talk about how this fits into the narrative and the choreography behind the very extensive and detailed routines?
Goth: Film is a visual medium. When dealing with a lot of intellectual ideas the challenge is to keep the screen alive. I brought in an old friend Danny Price to choreograph the film. He is fantastic at taking an idea and making it move. The 300 performers he worked with became one as they moved down the steps at the end of the film. The process of one mind connecting with 300 people and knowing their every thought and feeling was his brief. He underplayed it and that was far more powerful.
Diabolique: What was the thinking behind the power, pulse and life of the soundtrack and score?
Goth: Music was very important to me. I chose Dub-step mixed with Classical as my theme. Seemed to cover the science and religion really well. I think sub-bass is the best sound in the world.