‘Follower’ Director Alex J. Mann Opens Up About Filmmaking, Writing, & More

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Recently I spoke with Alex J. Mann, the director behind the CLASH digital exclusive Follower (2016). You can read the exchange below.

JAYME KARALES for CLASH: First off, I just want to say thanks for taking the time to answer these, Alex. You and your partner K. Adam Bloom founded Space Oddity Films and since its inception you’ve released a number of short films. Your work has been covered by notable outlets like IndieWire and /Film. What has been your biggest personal highlight to come of the company’s formation?

ALEX J. MANN: I sent a friend of mine our short film Green Dot. She called me after watching it, and she was crying. I had never been so happy to make someone cry. In the age of likes and shares, it’s rewarding to create something that has a visceral effect.

CLASH: To keep plot details sparse, Follower is about a man who goes out of his way to save a girl he recognizes through Instagram. The short has a very distinct stylistic tone. What would you say influenced your choices in cinematography, editing, and writing?

MANN: Very early on, Adam and I talked about two reference points: Darren Aronofsky’s Pi and Christopher Nolan’s Following. They’re both modern noirs with mentally unstable protagonists, and use high-contrast black-and-white pallets. We referenced these films every step of the way.

CLASH: What is your creative background like outside of Space Oddity Films?

MANN: I studied improv and sketch comedy at UCB Theater in NYC. I’ve also written for TV, film and digital prior to founding the company. I play guitar when I have time. I should really learn to cook.

CLASH: You’ve written for various mediums—films, series, and of course just plain long-form for sites like VICE and Thought Catalog. Which do you find most appealing and why?

MANN: At this point, I’m most excited about visual storytelling because I feel like it’s the area I have the most room to improve. So, anything I can direct is most appealing. For the past few years, that’s been short form – shorts, sketches, and series. Hopefully we’ll produce something bigger this year.

CLASH: Do you have any plans (or intentions) of expanding your previous shorts into feature length films, or are you someone who’d prefer to venture into that territory with fresh material?

MANN: We’ve talked about it, and if the opportunity presented itself, I’d be open to it. But I’m actually thinking about it in reverse. I recently finished a sci-fi feature script, and we’re trying to figure out how to reverse-engineer the concept into a short.

CLASH: Is there anything you’re working on at the moment that we can look forward to seeing in the not so distant future?

MANN: We’re in post on a new Space Oddity short called Trunk. It’s about a girl who caught her boyfriend cheating, and she’s driving around with the body of the mistress in the trunk of her car. It’s a little Hitchcock and a little Drive.

I’m also a writing high school mystery noir, something like Twin Peaks meets True Detective, that unfolds entirely on Facebook.

CLASH: Where can people find you online?

MANN: Either AlexJMann.com or twitter.com/alexjmann

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About Jayme Karales

Jayme Karales is a writer, filmmaker, actor, and comedian. He is the founder of Clash Media, the director of Practice Makes Perfect, and currently stars in the UnHollywood original series The Hutchcast. His writing has been published by Thought Catalog, The Rebel, Before Sunrise Press, Your Daily Subvert, Moon Project, and others. Follow @JaymeKarales on Twitter.

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