A couple of days ago, I saw one of the most unique post-apocalyptic films in the past decade: A Reckoning. Focused on one man who is apparently the only survivor of some kind apocalyptic event, A Reckoning follows this man through his daily routines until he decides to finally move on. It’s one of the most compelling films that I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s something I would love for everybody to see. Well, today I have a special interview for you: Andrew David Barker(A.D. Barker), the writer, producer, composer, AND director of A Reckoning.
Hi there. Having just seen your film, A Reckoning, I have to say it’s one of the most unique and compelling post-apocalyptic films that I’ve seen in years. The way the whole thing come together was just fantastic. I would like to ask you a few questions about it.
1. First off, what drew you to the world of film-making?
I’ve always loved movies, right from a very young age. I was born in 1975 so I’m very much of the Spielberg and Lucas generation. I by and large grew up in front of the TV. I loved going to the pictures – as we called it back then – and was just in awe of cinema. I grew up in Derby, a fairly down-trodden Midland town in the UK and movies were an escape.
When we were about 13/14, a friend of mine got a video camera, and that was it, we were off. Every Saturday we’d pile round his house and remake whatever the film of the day was – so we made stuff like Die Hard and Back to the Future in his back garden, if you can imagine that? We even made our own version of Teen Wolf! That sense of creating something with others, the collaborative nature of filmmaking, really stuck with me. In fact, it has never gone away.
I loved making A Reckoning. It was tough, and man was it cold, but it was never not fun. We had the entire location to play around in and the crew were great, and Les was great. His is an extraordinary performance.
2. What do you think about the current state of affairs with the post-apocalyptic film genre?
I’m not really sure, I haven’t seen one in a while. Although saying that, I think given the times we’re living in, we might be seeing some in the future.
I’ve always loved post-apocalyptic films. They have landscapes that appeal to me. I love derelict buildings and lands gone to ruin. It’s great imagery.
3. One of the most interesting aspects of A Reckoning was its approach to the whole post-apocalyptic feel. There are some minor clues here and there that give you a tiny bit of an idea of what happened, but it’s never fully explained, yet felt like a deliberate choice. Was the idea to keep the event as ambiguous as possible an idea at the very beginning of the project?
Yeah, I wanted it ambiguous. I didn’t feel the need to fully explain it. Maybe the Lone Man doesn’t even know, and if he does, he has long since stopped caring about it – he’s just trying to get on with his day to day existence.
I wanted this film to exist in a kind of dream state. I wanted it to be and remain mysterious. This is a human being laid bare; a man clinging onto a long dead world. Normality no longer applies.
4. A Reckoning kind of feels like a very personal look at how someone would respond to an apocalyptic situation. The psychological aspects of the film feel extremely real. How important was it that the audience gets to see how The Lone Man deal with the situation in different ways?
I think I’ve always been interested in madness – in how far a person can be pushed until the mind snaps. For me, every set up, every situation, I just approached illogically, or as illogically as I could figure. I just tried to figure out how you could survive and what things you’d do to occupy your time. The Man tries to hold onto his old life – the habit and structure give him a centre. For a while, anyway.
5. Leslie Simpson’s performance was outstanding. Did he really like the script at first, or did he need some convincing?
He did like the script and came straight on board, which was wonderful. I went up to his flat one weekend and we talked it through and then we were away. It came together really fast. I wrote the treatment in the September or October and we were shooting by the January of the following year.
Les was a marvel and I loved collaborating with him. We developed a good short hand very fast and we were pretty much always on the same page. He had this down and he really is incredible in it. To carry a film – a film with minimal dialogue – almost entirely on your own is quite something. How he’s not a big star now, I don’t know. Although I do know he’s now writing and directing his own short. He’s made a couple of really good short films.
6. I really loved the visual aesthetic of the film. It was beautifully bleak. I also noticed that there was no CGI whatsoever, which is rare these days. How did you manage to get the film to look as desolate and isolated as it does?
It’s the location, which speaks for itself. It was an abandoned RAF base, an entire village just left to ruin. There was no running water, no electricity, no health and safety! And if that wasn’t bleak enough, a few days into the shoot, the snow came, and boy, did it come.
I knew going in that I would have to be very flexible with the script and would have to adapt to whatever the elements and location threw at me, so it was designed to roll with the punches.
The snow makes the film look very grand, so we got very lucky there. We also lucked out with that red sky towards the end of the film. That’s all real. There are no special effects in the film. We couldn’t afford any.
7. Often, the human aspect of the post-apocalyptic genre is set aside for the spectacle. How important was it to try and keep a very human and grounded story in a genre that has somewhat sidestepped those ideas?
Well we couldn’t afford the spectacle. This film was done on a ridiculously low budget. Ten/eleven grand maybe. I basically worked to my limitations and I designed a story that was achievable for me to make. That said, even if I’d had the money, I’d still want to make a very human story. That’s what I respond to in stories. Spectacle is great and I can be a sucker for it, but I need story and character, without it you’ve not got much to go on.
8. There are a lot of interesting themes running through the film about loneliness, habits and learning to let go of certain things. What are you hoping that the audience will take away from A Reckoning?
I just hope people see it and respond to it. I hope they think it’s something they haven’t seen before, that it’s a little different – that it speaks to them in someway. I don’t really know much more than that.
9. What do you have coming up? Are there any projects or film ideas that you would like to tackle in the future?
I’m hoping to shoot something next year. I’ve been writing and have a couple of things on the go. I just need to find the elusive money.
One project I’d really like to do is adapt my novel Dead Leaves. I’ve written a script and really would love to do that one. It’s set in the early 80s, during the video nasty media storm we had here in the UK, about a group of horror film fans searching for a copy of the notorious “nasty” The Evil Dead.
But besides that, I’ve got a lot of ideas for films. There’s a lot of things I want to do, given the chance.
10. Last question: What is your favorite post-apocalyptic film and why?
Mad Max 2. That’s a seminal film for me. It’s one of the films that made me want to make films. It’s just the coolest movie. Every time I watch it I find something new, and also, it always makes me want to go out and shoot something myself. Thank you, George.
I would like to thank Mr. Barker for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for us. A Reckoning is one of the best movies of its kind, and blows a lot of big-budget blockbusters out of the water. If you can find the film(legally, mind you. No piracy.), you will not be disappointed. It is truly a diamond in the rough. It’s been a couple of days since I saw it, and I’m still thinking about it. A Reckoning is truly a film worth seeking out.