[San Diego Comic-Con '12 Interview] ‘Branded’ Director Jamie Bradshaw

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While at the San Diego Comic-Con, Bloody Disgusting stringer Evan Dickson had the chance to sit down with Branded co-director Jamie Bradshaw to talk about their sci-fi thriller that takes on advertising in a big way. Roadside Attractions will be releasing in theaters this September.

The film starring Ed Stoppard, Leelee Sobieski, Jeffrey Tambor, Ingeborga Dapkunaite and Max Von Sydow “is a dark and mind-bending sci-fi thriller into a surreal, dystopian society where mega corporations have unleashed a monstrous global conspiracy to get inside our minds and keep the population disillusioned, dependent and passive. One man’s quest to unlock the truth behind the conspiracy will lead to an epic battle with the hidden forces that really control our world.

You used to work in marketing. Was there something about your job that disenfranchised you and inspired the critique in Branded?

I wouldn’t call it a critique of marketing. I would call it a mind bending journey through our very dark and hallucinatory world. It’s a dark place but it’s the world we live in. I’m not criticizing it. To criticize marketing is to criticize the world. I feel you like you don’t criticize the fundamentals of the world you live in. You express the way it is. It’s the way we’ve chosen to live our lives.

Everyone is complicit in it.

We live in an era defined by that complicity. The model of advertising is different now. Social media has changed us all into brands and we spread the advertiser’s word for free. We are making the system, authorizing it and making it a success.

And how does this play out in the movie? How does someone navigate it?

The dark and mind bending journey that the hero of this film has to go through takes him through ancient rituals that are graphic in nature that allow him to tap into powered that we don’t see that we have. Powers that allow us to redefine ourselves as people and to fundamentally change the world we live in. There’s a lot we don’t know about being human. There’s a lot we can learn that can empower us to change the world and become true individuals.

The film looks pretty epic in scope.

We tried to put every dollar we could onscreen. Most films pay so much up front for stars or directors, 95% percent of our budget went below the line. We made a movie that was epic in scope and is R-rated. We ca show a lot more. The content is often ambiguous. The dark, weird rituals. In the middle of nowhere with a cow and an axe. Stuff you can’t do here.

Were you inspired by They Live at all?

I don’t think it’s an inspiration. It’s an influence. John Carpenter is a great director and They Live is a very strong film. I think both films are trying to look at the world that affects us. But the world has changed so much since then. That kind of story structure and style doesn’t apply anymore, because we’re all more complicit [than the characters in that film]. I tried to make a very entertaining edge-of-your-seat film that you can go see on a Friday night but that still makes you think. There’s some visual stuff in here that I have literally never seen. It’s so graphic and powerful.