Filmmaker Adam Welch in the United States is a Quantum Shorts veteran, having made the festival shortlist – and won prizes – in Quantum Shorts 2014. He tells us about The Real Thing, his entry to this year’s festival.
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Did you make this film for Quantum Shorts?
Yes, I did. Originally I had a much bigger plan. We were going to have a dozen actors and shoot in different locations, but it became a bit overwhelming. Then I thought, this film is about quantum physics, it’s got to be small. Let’s just dial in it, keep it tight, and tell one succinct small story.
What is your background in film and physics?
It’s film mostly. I majored in film and video at Penn State, and I’ve been making movies since I was 14. I work for an education association in Virginia creating documentary-style professional development videos for teachers, for Kindergarten through to grade 12. That’s the economic engine. I will say that I have a little bit of a science background, but it ended essentially in 11th grade of high school when I dropped out of physics.
Who else was involved in making the movie?
There’s only three other people. Zach Bowman, who appears on screen, is my co-worker at the education association. His screen presence is really arresting. Jack Lapilusa, a former co-worker, is the camera guy. I shot some of it, and he shot the intro and outro. My friend Chris Rattie created the music, a song called “3am (Nightmare Visions of Screamin' Jay Hawkins)”. When he released his album, this song really stuck out to me. I’ve just always loved it. It’s bluesy. It’s kind of grungy. I’ve always wanted to make a music video for it. When Quantum Shorts came round in 2016, I was like, I’m ready. I have an excuse to do it.
How did the story come about?
I always reference the Quantum A to Z guide you guys have on the website. It’s good to choose one and then start digging down. I was scrolling through and saw Many Worlds and thought oh, I like that.
We worked on the film for a while, and when we had a cut, I showed it to my wife. She’s a storyteller too, and she can home in on the human element. The first idea was that Zach just pops in and starts asking about this many worlds thing. She said you need to establish that this is what he does, he just pops in and says random things. Anyone who works in an office with cubes has experienced people just popping in to say things about office stuff. But he doesn’t do that, he says random science and history facts. We’d already been working on the film for over a month when we decided to make this change — and this was the day before the film was due. Immediately I knew she was right but I was like, oh boy, tick tock.
What equipment did you use to shoot the film?
The special effects in the film - the extreme slow motion of the soda bottles flipping through the air – I shot with my iphone at 240 frames per second. The shots with the car wheels were done with a go pro. The intro and outro, the bookends, were shot with a DSLR. I kind of intentionally didn’t use any fancy stuff. I just wanted to keep it light and nimble, not be overburdened by the pressure of doing something huge.