With the new Sci-Fi Adventure film Rim of the World hitting Netflix today, we sat down with Screenwriter Zack Stentz to talk about seeing his story come to life, working with Director McG and Composer Bear McCreary and what sets his film apart from other Alien Invasion movies.
Starburst: Congratulations on the film it looks like a lot of fun! How pleased are you to see your vision come to life?
Zack: Beyond pleased! I’ve been writing screenplays since I was 21 years old and this is the first original, solo movie not based on an underlying property that I’ve seen reach the screen. It feels like a bit of a unicorn and may never happen again, so I’m savouring the moment.
Where did the inspiration for the film come from? It seems to have a lot of the killer elements of other genre films which surely is a concoction of success.
Rim of the World is definitely inspired by Stand By Me and of course the great Amblin kids’ adventure movies of the 1980s (E.T. and The Goonies in particular) but what I really wanted to do was take that format and bring it into the 21st Century. It was important to me to not set this film in the 1980s like Super 8 or Stranger Things or even Bumblebee, because I wanted to put contemporary kids in a life or death adventure scenario and watch them cope with it.
How was it working with Director McG and composer Bear McCreary to bring the film to life?
McG is an absolute force of nature as well as a generous and thoughtful collaborator. He and a young writer named Jimmy Warden did their own pass on the script to more reflect his edgier sensibilities, and then during production, we all were constantly discussing how to balance the tone between that and the more Amblin-esque sweetness I had brought to the initial script. In the end, I think we ended up with a finished film that reflected both of our sensibilities. And what can I say about Bear other than he’s a dear friend as well as my favourite working composer, and I practically begged him to score this film for us. And in doing so he delivered something people haven’t really heard from him—a warm, melodic and orchestral score that recalls the best of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith while being distinctively his. The score might be my favourite thing about the finished film.
It’s safe to say that these days the bag stigma of working with kids is long gone after the success of Stranger Things, Summer of ’84, etc. Did you have any input on the casting of the four teenage leads and how was it working with them?
McG had the deciding vote of course but I was involved in the casting process and was VERY happy with the four kids we ended up with. They’re all incredibly talented, have fantastic chemistry with each other, and I think are going on to very big things after this.
What can audiences expect from the film that sets it apart from other Alien invasion genre films?
I don’t think we’ve ever seen an alien invasion movie that combines kid protagonists, a very clear and defined mission of getting an important item from point A to point B across a dangerous landscape, and a tense chase/pursuit story in the vein of the original Terminator. Hopefully, all of those elements complement each other instead of warring!
Could you share some of your favourite moments either when writing the script or in the finished product?
My favourite two moments in the production (aside from getting the green light from Netflix) had to be driving to the Mammoth Lakes set of the film and seeing the big wooden sign for the camp, the tents behind them and the kids all in costume, realizing that a whole bunch of talented people were bringing to life something that had only existed in my imagination. And the second was getting Bear’s first music cue (for the kids’ bike ride down the mountain) and realizing that it was both exactly the kind of music I had heard in my head as I’d written the scene but somehow even better than I could have imagined.
RIM OF THE WORLD is available to stream via Netflix on May 24th 2019.