Collin Davis and I had synced up towards the end of college in Chicago and did a few small spec ads with our buddy Travis Labella. By chance we both ended up with jobs in LA (Travis headed to the jungle but he can write more about that). We decided to take an epic road trip through the northwest and down the coast with each of us splintering off at different points. We spent much of that trip driving through gorgeous mountain ranges and national parks, discussing what was next and how we could start doing work we believed in.
After getting our feet on the ground and into the flow of our new jobs, we circled the wagons. We wanted to do a project that was achievable, something we really believed in. Collin immediately brought in Eric Bodge, another college buddy of ours who Collin had collaborated with. I hadn't had the chance to work with Eric yet, but I couldn't be happier to have had the opportunity. Eric brought Telescope to the table (check out his blog post on where the idea came from).
I loved it. I knew right away it was a project I had to get involved in. They started listing off reference films and I got more and more excited as they named some of my favorite films. It had a crazy premise with a lot of built in metaphor and of course some really exciting visual elements. We called up Travis and told him he needed to move to LA immediately, that we had a project worth moving for (he was crazy enough to do it).
We got started on pre-production and it was fun times. We would meet two to three times a week talking about how we would build lights and who are character was and how we were going to do cloud tank stuff. But Collin and Eric still had this ability to speak to the tone in a vocabulary I didn't have. The reason... the music.
Collin and Eric had a strong shared taste in the music they had always paired with Telescope. We decided the way for me to get on their page was through that music. They sent me multiple playlists and dozens of artists. I was hesitant at first. I like a lot of stuff, metal, rap, indie, electronic, but new age psychedelia was uncharted territory for me. However, digging in and discussing what each of us liked and didn't like about each given artist is what really helped us discover what Telescope was all about.
Through sharing artists and long listening sessions I think we really were able to find the tone, the story, and even the look of Telescope. It helped us capture the feeling, the vibe. There were many many long nights of writing, shot listing, editing, vfx, all full of music.
Don't get me wrong, we watched a lot of movies. We had a lot of discussions about the visuals and the the films we wanted to reference, but looking back, I think it'll be the music that will always stick with me. Anytime I put Croms back on or Alan Hawkshaw, I link it not only to Telescope, but to the experience of leaving college and chasing dreams. Luckily I had friends and artists who I really believe in to do it with.
There's much more to the story of how Telescope came to be, the many many people who got involved and made it an amazing experience, and the risks that ended up really paying off. But we'll save that for later posts.
Footnote: Doug Kaplan and Zach Robinson put together a killer score which in a lot of ways was a realization of the music we had been consuming. Kudos to them for capture our crazy ideas in a bottle. The score might be my favorite part of the movie.