This week's Dazed Visionaries are Factory Fifteen, a studio of animators and filmmakers who are bringing a sense of wonder back to independent film. Jonathan Gales, Paul Nicholls and Kibwe Tavares met on an postgraduate architecture course before realising that they'd rather design fantastical sci-fi than buildings, and have since turned their skills at world-building (and a considerable knowledge of 3D rendering software) to film.
Taking a trip into the Factory Fifteen world is like taking a hyper drive jump into a parallel universe where once-familiar landscapes are given a dystopic, sci-fi twist. Just check out one of the their films for Visionaries, Robots of Brixton, which posits a not-too-distant future where South London's streets are overrun by a new android underclass. Originally created as part of Tavares' final project for his Masters, it exemplifies their bold, futurist vision – and it's one that they've continued to build with their Visionaries takeover. Find out more about what they've got planned here and check out their takeover.
Dazed Digital: Can you tell us more about the videos you've pulled together for Dazed? What's the vision behind them?
Jonathan Gales: One of the consistent variables in our work is always a focus on the environment. Most of our projects use the environment and architecture as a character to make a comment, and also as a catalyst for the narrative. In Chupan Chupai for example, we are using the environments to speculate on how technology might develop to change how we interact with the city. We explored this through a group of children playing hide and seek, showing how they could interact and subvert the surfaces of the city.
DD: How would you describe the Factory Fifteen aesthetic to a newcomer?
Jonathan Gales: Our projects are often exploring speculative near future scenarios and fantastical alternative presents. We like to bring an intensity of detail to our projects and in most cases we are looking at when things go wrong. Some people have described it as being dystopian though we would prefer to describe some of the work as cautionary tales.
“Science fiction is a really powerful tool to tell stories through analogy"
DD: Factory Fifteen's work is incredibly imaginative; how did you come up with your ideas?
Jonathan Gales: When studying architecture we were always encouraged to research and build narrative around any project we were undertaking. Architecture projects have a tendency to think about societies and cultures of people... Our projects take a similar stance to this in the same way any ‘what if’ story builds its support to create the world.
DD: There's an element of sci-fi futurism to your work – are you sci-fi fans?
Jonathan Gales: Yes, to an extent though some of us are more keen than others. I personally really enjoy futurism in film and novels both in terms of creating worlds but also exploring ideas about social conditions. Science fiction is a really powerful tool to tell stories through analogy. It can create an abstraction from the intended subject through its medium. I really like old futuristic stories that are really bold in their world creation and message they portray, Huxley’s Brave New World is a classic and still resonates strongly now considering how society has developed since the 1930s.
DD: Name some other favourite filmmakers right now?
Jonathan Gales: There’s so much talent and film making going on at the moment, it sometimes hard to stay on top of everything that’s coming out. I really enjoyed Ruairi Robinson’ Blinky, it was an incredible short. We’re not specifically sci-fi enthusiasts although we are all [Neill] Blomkamp fans. Also, I’m looking forwards to Terry Gillingham’s new film Zero Theorum, it looks like an intense world with a really interesting plot.
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