Director Sophia Banks Talks Proxy

In a world where people hire ‘Proxys’ – trained humans who stand-in for a lost loved one, Victoria tries to navigate the life of being one of the highest in demand proxies in the city while struggling with her own demons.

I thought this short was really interesting how it dived into a time not far from us, suggesting this sort of reality is a lot closer than we might think. Using a muted colour scheme, it gave the film a robotic, cold feeling to emphasise the emotions that we as an audience were going through along with the main character.

It’s strange, because it’s obviously set in the future, but something about it for me made me think about the 1950s. Maybe it was the fashion, or some of the Proxy settings, but this story felt old as well as new. This sort of genre and style really is popular, with people obsessed with imagining what our world and lives will look like in the future, both near and far, and I think this was a unique take on it.

Directed by Sophia Banks, this sci fi short has already played at many film festivals. This isn’t Banks’ first sci-fi related film that she’s worked on, and we’ve been able to ask her some questions about her love of the genre as well as the film Proxy itself.

Where did the idea for Proxy stem from, and how did you get on board with it?

Dominick Joseph Luna, who wrote the screenplay for Proxy and I had wanted to do a project together for a while with actress Emma Booth. We knew we wanted to do something completely different than anything out there. He had run across an article about Japan and how they are currently offering boutique services whereby you can hire a “Proxy” to stand in for someone of your choice. Some people hire a proxy sister to attend an event with them or a proxy girlfriend to go to a wedding. It was something that got my attention and we decided to create this story.

Seeing that the last two short films from you are sci-fi, what draws you to that genre?

I love the idea that the future is limitless. There are so many possibilities and outcomes. I see it as a platform to tell dark and mind-bending stories in interesting ways.

Do you think that these film ideas may one day be part of our realities?

I do. As I mentioned, they are currently offering a form of this service in Japan currently and I think that with the way we are headed in our current climate we very well could be following in their footsteps.

I really loved how the short not only looked at this cool futuristic idea, but the character herself and what she was going through. What was it like building Emma Booth’s character as someone we don’t know, yet some people may be able to relate to? 

It was such an amazing experience working with Emma Booth as she is incredibly talented and already brings those performance nuances that you want in order to convey the emotions of the stories. I think in that regard, Dominick and I had it easy. He was able to tell the universal story in this screenplay and I was able to work with her to bring that to life while she put her own spin on what the story meant to her. It was really an overall collaborative effort which is what I think made getting the message to the audience so successful. Everyone can see a little bit of themselves in her and the struggle she is going through.

The people who work as proxy’s in the film are acting as the people that the clients would like them to be. Do you think this short is a metaphor for the acting industry and how it can make people feel?

That is an interesting angle to the story and one we hadn’t intended although, I suppose this story really relates to so many individuals because I think we all fight within ourselves to constantly feel we have to fit some kind of narrative in life. If it does speak to that I suppose it is merely coincidental. 

Your short films have won many awards (congratulations) and you’ve gone on to direct numerous things, what advice would you give to aspiring directors?

I would say that as a Director you won’t get your foot in the door until you put yourself out there and make the project you are truly passionate about and tell the stories that you want to tell. I have heard it said many times by the greatest directors including Tarantino, Scorsese, Hitchcock and so many others that their number one piece of advice was to simply pick up the camera and make the film and I think it’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard and could ever pass along.

It’s really inspiring to see women working with the sci-fi genre as many would say it is mainly dominated by men. Do you hope to keep making short films in this genre or is something else up next for you?

I do fully intend to continue making short films. I think it’s a creative outlet for me and it has always opened doors and created conversations. As I move forward with my career, they may be more of that creative outlet I spoke on but it’s important for me to have that. Currently, I am prepping for a full-length feature film however, with Thunder Road and Asbury Park Pictures producing. It’s an action/thriller titled Blacksite and I am looking forward to you hearing more on that this year.

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