The Genesis of 'Looper': Rian Johnson's Rough, Found-Footage Pitch Reel

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"Time travel has not been invented, but in 30 years, it will be," the clip begins, below. It's not precisely the opening line of Looper, but it's close. The vintage pocket watch and gritty, dystopian cityscape are there already, as is Joseph Gordon-Levitt's dry voiceover. If you've seen the film or the trailer, you'll recognize it in this embryonic phase. 

Before shooting Looper, director Rian Johnson assembled this demo trailer from movie clips and hand-drawn sketches, a "clip-o-matic," as he calls it on Vimeo. "This is a strange curiosity I thought might be interesting," he writes

Just after I finished the script for Looper but before we began preproduction I asked Joe to record some voice-over, and with help from my friend Ronen Verbit constructed this "fake trailer" using clips from other movies. This is a fairly common thing to do when you're trying to get a movie off the ground, but it was the first time I tried it. It was meant to show more some of the film's tone, and to show how the odd concept could be presented in a clear and compelling way in the marketing. Zach Johnson did the sketches. Note that we hadn't begun the casting process yet, and the clips were chosen just based on their visuals and not by who is in them.

Don't miss Chris Orr's review, "The Mind-Bending Charm of Looper," and another peek at Johnson's early work, The Psychology of Dream Analysis. The low-budget short tells the story of a young woman who has been dreaming someone else's dreams. Like Looper, it has a twist; one day, she meets this person and things get very complicated. Both videos reveal Johnson's talent for creating fictional worlds and charismatic characters with minimal resources -- in one case, other people's movies! Which films are in the mix? SlashFilm tallies them up here

For more videos by Rian Johnson, visit his Vimeo channel.

Via SlashFilm

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
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