Last year, William Eubanks built the International Space Station in his parents’ driveway and garage. This caused his father some consternation, though it was a little easier on the whole family when he filmed the Civil War in an outer stretch of the family’s small Santa Ynez ranch.
Eubank, as you might have guessed, was working on a film, which he created almost literally from ground to cosmos. The film is a surreal journey: It begins in a Coen Bros vein with a rustic narrator describing from a civil war bunker how he escaped shelling to visit some strange structure, continues to interviews and interludes until the story takes us into orbit around a planet, ours, that has destroyed itself. At least that seems to be the plot and Eubanks, who wrote the script based on a CD by the Los Angeles super group Angels & Airwaves is happy that anyone sort of understands it.
But the true marvel of Eubanks’ near solo accomplishment is the visual splendors he managed to create at his parents’ home. And since he hasn’t watched the film with an objective audience, he’s more than a little relieved to hear it justly praised. “It was kind of like if you build it, they will come,” said Eubanks from his new offices in Los Angeles last week describing the spacey-unlikely origins of his film, Angels & Airwaves Present Love, which will have its world premiere at the SBIFF on Wednesday, Feburary 2 at the Metro 4, and was also just named as the big Thursday night offering at the Arlington Theatre.
Eubank grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley, and even though he attended UCLA and Brooks cinematography school, he dropped out of both and went to work for Panavision where he became sucked into the world of digital photography. “They used to let me borrow a camera,” he explained, and it was there he began to experiment doing spec commercials and other short video projects.
Then one fateful day Eubank met Tom de Longe who most people remember as the singer for Blink 182. Eubank showed him some work he had done on YouTube and a reel of material, funny stuff. “And he said, `Oh my God, you need to come with me.” De Longe brought Eubank down to a big studio he kept in Carlsbad, California filled with “space stuff.” It was also where De Longe’s new band Angels & Airwaves worked, and then and there Do Longe hired Eubank to do a filmed accompaniment to his new CD entitled IEmpire. “So I made 10 music videos,” explained Eubank, who liked each piece individually, but viewed in a row changed his mind. “This was just so boring that way. So I went down and talked to Tom and told him I wanted to do a film,” he said. “And he just told me to go for it.”
More than a mere green light, De Longe actually gave Eubank his credit card, which the young filmmaker employed to the tune of about $40,000 in the next year, ransacking places like Home Depot and Lowes to buy hardware and miscellaneous items like 30 fans he bought to create the realism and poetry of a space station with a single astronaut stranded going slowly nuts inside. “Sometimes I would get phone calls from their accountant asking me stuff like, ‘Did you just buy 30 fans?’ and I’d say `Yeah,’ and They’d say, ‘Okay,’” Eubank laughed.
For the next year, Eubank built and then filmed his 90-minute surreal epic, learning things along the way — useful things like shooting the scenes where actor Gunner Wright has a beard first, rather than waiting for whiskers to grow; how to put the set on wheels to make it versatile; and what to do if it rains on your Space Station set. (Go out all night and sweep the water off the roof of it.) The results have to be seen — there is little doubt that Eubank working on his own surpassed the work of a lot of big budgeted sci-fi extravaganzas while keeping his film focused on the band’s underlying message of human contact.
“I learned a lot on Love,” said Eubank who can’t wait to see an audience see his work. “I don’t want to talk about how well I know the Home Depot store, I know where everything is. I tell you one thing; I can probably build anything now. I own nine nail guns now. I never thought I’d own one nail gun.”
The world premiere of Will Eubank’s Angels and Airwaves Present Love is Wednesday, February 2, 7:20 p.m. at the Metro 4. It also screens on Thursday, February 3, 7:30 p.m. at the Arlington Theatre and on Friday, February 4, 1:40 p.m. and Saturday, February 5, 8:05 a.m. at the Metro 4. The schedule is subject to change, so see independent.com/sbiff for updates.