‘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