Sophia Bank’s Sci-Fi Thriller Proxy shares the horrors of living the life – of someone else.

What inspired Dominick Joseph Luna to write this film?

Dominick had come across an interesting article about how in Japan, boutique services have been springing up in the cities where you can “rent” a person to be a stand in for anyone you want. It was such an interesting concept and he brought it to me and we created a story based on that.

What then drew you to the idea?

I have always been a huge Sci-Fi fan and I love Black Mirror as well as Blade Runner and it seemed like a great opportunity to blend those two.

How much input did you and Dominick collaborate on set?

It was a really great cohesive collaboration from the start — we knew we wanted to work together on something and it all happened in a very serendipitous way. We developed the story together and he wrote the film script and within a few short weeks following that we were off and running.

How did your direction help Emma Booth delineate between the different characters she played?

I loved working with Emma Booth because she really has her own talent at creating those nuances you see across the “Characters” she played in Proxy. I could give her an overall direction and goal for the scene and she would fully immerse herself in the scenario. It was really special to watch her creative process and see where she took it.

How much is the film directed at social media in terms of reinforcing and enabling bad behavior?

It’s funny because that is an underlying message to the film: the more connected we are becoming through Social Media and the Internet, the further we are growing apart from each other. Proxy explores the dark side of that and a strange solution to becoming connected again. But the truth is, there is no substitute for real human connection within reality.

The move that Christopher (Shaw Jones) makes with the spoon is unnerving. How did that emerge and what does it mean?

Shaw was amazing to work with. We shot the scene and at first, it was fairly mild. Throughout the takes, he naturally fell into the character and the situation and continues to escalate his reactions to what was going on in the scene. I think we were almost all surprised when he did grab at the spoon because it wasn’t written in the script but that intense moment that he took us to really worked and Emma’s reaction to it was perfect in that moment. We ended up keeping that take because it ended up being perfect for the film.

All these characters should be in counseling. How much background did cast and crew seek out in terms of psychiatric therapy?

It’s an interesting question — we didn’t really get into exploring the realms of therapy necessarily. I think we wanted to really stick with the idea of the disconnection due to our over stimulus. The research we did was really thoroughly into the Proxy business they have going on in Japan and a projection of that into the future.

The ominous, calculating score is very good at elevating the drama. How did you direct James Burkholder to write the score and then describe how it developed off the initial drafts.

It was such a fun experience to work with James on this one — we really only had a few notes to go off of in the beginning and were happy to give him a creative outlet with the film. I wanted to keep the score along the lines of ebbs and flows throughout the film (sometimes silence can be intense in and of itself) and James really got that.

What are you trying to say in regards to how disconnected we are as a society?

I think that as I said earlier, the more we are becoming connected through social media outlets the further we are disconnecting to reality and what is happening right now, in front of us. It’s creating a society that would rather stay in their own world rather than live the one we are in. Sometimes that can maybe be helpful — to have a place to escape to — but when that becomes your only means of interaction, a new reality sets in. Proxy explores the idea that sometimes that reality is a sinister one.

What visual effects did Christoph Roth contribute?

He did all of our visual effects which was such a great experience to work with him again. He really understands the genre and knew exactly how I wanted our future world to look. The details he added in the Visual Effects was the perfect touch to transporting the audience to a not to far off distant future.

The setting of the last palatial estate is pretty upscale. How were you able to gain access? How did cast and crew prepare so they could complete the scene as quickly as possible?

I actually dressed my backyard for that scene. I had a pool at the time and a little hang-out area in the backyard and we thought it would be the perfect place for our final scene. We weren’t expecting the rain that day, especially living in LA, so by the time we were set up for the shot, it starting drizzling. Our DP Josh Reis wanted to go with it and I think it turned out really interesting with that extra unexpected element.

What does the tattoo say on Victoria’s wrist and what does it mean?

It’s actually a personal tattoo of Emma Booth! We decided not to cover it up because it made sense that she might have a tattoo.

What was involved for Nana Fischer in delivering the make up artistry for all of Emma’s different looks?

Nana is a real pro and a good friend of mine so I was so thrilled to get to work with her on the film. She had an amazing inventory of wigs and prosthetics, which is her specialty having done Prometheus and World War Z as well as many other incredible films. She brought her vision to the characters and I loved the options that we went with — she really helped to make that final transformation and by the second scene I have had people not realize it was the same actress.

The actors (Emma Booth, Erika Christensen, Marcus Coloma, Shaw Jones, Madison Mason) all have pretty substantial resumes. How did you make the connections and what generally attracts them to a small independent short?

Emma Booth is a fellow Aussie and her and I had always wanted to work together on something. She happened to be coming to LA after wrapping on her show The Gloaming and the rest of the talent were already in LA. Erika is actually a long term friend of mine as well as Marcus so I knew I wanted to have them a part of it. I was lucky to work with Shaw and Madison through a connection with one of our amazing Producers, David O’Donnell. It was really a collaboration of friends and it made it all that much better working with people who are just as passionate about the end result of the film as you are.

Actors have a very similar job description as Victoria. What did cast members have to say about how they may use their acting skills in everyday life?

An interesting question! I haven’t explored that with them but I do believe that Actors are a cut above the rest in that they are very fluid — they understand people more than the average person does because they spend so much time studying them and perfecting personalities. I would think that could come handy in a lot of different ways.

Given how Victoria remains in her own personal trap, what hope does this film holdout for people who are stuck in dead end spirals?

It’s a message for people to get out and live their life. Live it in the now and to look around, make real connections and experience life in the present.

You’ve seemed to take a turn for Sci-Fi in your last two films. How did this happen?

Yeah I think Unregistered was such a huge project and was so involved. We did over 300 visual and special effects on that short film alone. I wanted to get a little more grounded on my next short film and this was the perfect story for that. I also really wanted to create some mystery around the timeframe — were we just 5 years into the future or 50? I like that we created that environment and when I worked with Rene Navarrette for our Production Design he used really interesting set design to create little worlds within our scenes that gave you a little room to imagine where you were.

What’s next for you?

Currently I am in Australia, on prep for my first feature film with Thunder Road (Sicario and John Wick) and Asbury Park Pictures. It’s an action thriller titled Blacksite and I am thrilled to join the ranks of female filmmakers in the genre.