On location > From L.A. to Osaka
Shooting ‘Les mondes de Philip K. Dick’ by Yann Coquart has given Jordi Esgleas Marroi the opportunity to travel around California and Japan and dig deep in the author’s extraordinary world of post-apocalyptic landscapes and soul-searching characters. Here are some snapshots from the journey.
About six months ago I was asked to do the cinematography in a documentary that focused on the life of science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, whose 1968 novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ inspired the film Blade Runner.
We agreed on what the documentary should look like and picturing an artistic and visually interesting film that took its cues from Philip K. Dick’s highly visual universe. So, with the basics in place, I immediately started working on the project by researching the author and his work thoroughly.
I’m not a big fan of science-fiction novels, but I knew a bit about this writer who imagined an alternative future where the Germans and the Japanese had won World War II.
As I immersed myself in the world of Philip K. Dick, I realised that it’s difficult not to succumb to his strange way of understanding fiction within reality. Or maybe, looking at it from another perspective, it’s more a case of understanding his reality in this fictitious world we all live in… Either way, I was thrilled to be part of ‘Philip K. Dick : souvenirs du futur’.
The focus of Minority Report, one of Philip K. Dick’s best known short stories due to Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film adaptation, is the police force’s ability to predict crime and act before it happens. A big data-analysis algorithm is at the heart of the LAPD’s crime-preventing predictive policing software, PredPol. To help us connect the dots, we spent an entire night in a police patrol car with Sergeant Campbell, whose resemblance to Laurence Fishburne wasn’t just physical and extended to his natural ease and flair in front of the camera.
One among the many locations we scouted to help us recreate the post-apocalyptic environments that define a lot of Philip K. Dick’s novels was an abandoned gas station along the legendary Route 66. Completed in 1926, stretching from Chicago to L.A and covering almost 4.000 Km, this road has been a part of popular culture for many decades as it embodies a certain idea of freedom particular to the U.S., and has now become a monument of sorts.
The production schedule included a month of shooting in California, where K. Dick lived all his life, and a week in the Japanese city of Osaka, which allowed us plenty of time to scout a world of futuristic locations among the everyday life and landscapes of these amazing places.
Staying on track to decipher another of Philip K. Dick’s themes, man, android and machine, we visited Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro from the Graduate School of Engineering Science at Osaka University where he heads the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory. He is one of world’s most eminent pioneers in robotics and has been developing humanlike robots, or androids, for years. One of his latest creations doesn’t just look like a human; it looks like Ishiguro himself, a robotic doppelganger named Geminoid, which has a series of versions with different abilities.
It’s been a great experience both professionally and personally and I’d like to thank everyone at Nova Production for their trust in me and for the opportunity to share the amazing ride that shooting this film turned out to be.
Original title – Les mondes de Philip K. Dick
Co-production: Nova Production / ARTE France / Darjeeling.
Directed by Yann Coquart, written by Yann Coquart and Ariel Kyrou
Cinematography: Jordi Esgleas Marroi