Set in a future world where America has lost the war on drugs, undercover cop Fred (Reeves) is one of many agents hooked on the popular drug Substance D, which causes its users to develop split personalities. Fred, for instance, is also Bob, a notorious drug dealer. Along with his superior officers, Fred sets up an elaborate scheme to catch Bob and tear down his operation. Based on the Philip K. Dick novel.
Recently Movieweb had a chance to attend a Q&A with the producer Tommy Pallotta and the animators of Richard Linklaters upcoming adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. Sadly, due to the parking situation and the overall enormity of Comic-Con, we arrived a bit late to this discussion and weren’t able to get the names of all the participants. Still, it was easy to see from all the answers that were given that this project was something very close to all involved with this interesting film.
According to Pallotta, A Scanner Darkly was made for a budget of “$8 million dollars”. At first they ran up against some opposition from the films backers because they didn’t see any market for an “R rated animated film”. They also spoke of this movie as being “a sci-fi action film without sci-fi or action” really being prominent in the story. The animators then talked about the actual nuts and bolts of making the movie. It was originally shot with real actors and then that footage was “animated over” using software developed specifically for this process (it is the same software used in Linklater’s 2001 film Waking Life). They went on to say that every aspect of how it was shot was “all for animation”, from the lighting to the camera moves. This brought up some questions about who was the easiest actor to animate? Would Keanu Reeves get an Oscar for his role? And the vagaries of animating Keanu’s facial hair. Pallotta and all the animators said that so far they are very happy with the way that Warner Independent Pictures has been marketing the film. They also spoke of others like Terry Gilliam who had been circling the project before them, in regards to the road of how this movie eventually led to Linklater.
At this point I realized that the person sitting on the far right of the stage was actual not a person at all but a robot version of Phillip K. Dick. Having come in late to this Q&A, I probably wouldn’t have been so confused by this. Other then the fact that it was missing the back part of it’s head, the robot version of Mr. Dick looked incredibly real. At this point people were able to ask the robot questions. While this was a bit spotty at first, Phillip K. Dick the robot eventually let loose a long answer about the film version of A Scanner Darkly. This response was punctuated by it asking the audience, “What is your favorite movie?”
The Q&A concluded with a screening of the movie’s trailer.
A Scanner Darkly opens in theaters in March 2006 and is being released by Warner Independent Pictures.