By Liz Lopez
I had the opportunity to view the feature film “Time Trap” on the big screen prior to the limited theatrical release that starts today in Austin at the Alamo Drafthouse and it is one that I highly encourage viewers to do as well while in theaters. There is no way to compare viewing this film in the theater and a small device as a computer screen or smaller. There are details about the story that I may have missed on a smaller screen, especially when archeology Professor Hopper (Andrew Wilson, “Bottle Rocket,” “The Royal Tenenbaums”) is exploring a cave, or when a group of students follow suit and make certain discoveries within the area they are wandering through. There are also great scenes of two very diverse eras of exploration in our history and what may be to come in the near future. “Time Trap” is co-directed by Mark Dennis (“Strings,” “The Alternate”) and Ben Foster (“Strings”) from a script by Dennis that I find engaging. Starting from the present time, the story also incorporates looking back in time to the 60s/70s “hippies” era, and way, way back to when the caves were man’s actual dwellings, as well as the future explorers who know what special properties the cave also has. If time travel is of any interest to film fans, this is one film not to miss as it jets back in forth in time for the very inquisitive and valiant teaching assistants who become resourceful, even if it means taking along two preteens who are all in for the adventure of a lifetime.
Mark Dennis and Ben Foster’s film of the genre works heavily based on the story, instead of depending on an actual jet or other vessel to “travel in time” while the characters are inside the strange cave system. The protagonists do not know the cave’s mystery yet the audience soon finds out without all the “Hollywood” trappings. It is evident the filmmakers are resourceful in their efforts to make a quality film within a limited means.
Teaching assistants Taylor (Reiley McClendon, “Pearl Harbor,” “The Fosters”) and Jackie (Brianne Howey, “The Exorcist” TV series) are concerned about their professor not returning timely from a cave exploration and set out to find him with the help of their friend Cara (Cassidy Gifford, “God’s Not Dead,” “The Gallows”). Cara’s help with the truck comes with a price, including taking two preteens along, her sister Veeves (Olivia Draguicevich, “Strings”) and a young friend, Furby (Max Wright, “Victorious” TV series). They trace the professor to a cave in Central Texas where they make interesting discoveries that also put their lives on the line.
“Time Trap” was an Official Selection of the 2017 Austin Film Festival and won several festival awards this year, including Audience Award Winner at the Hill Country Film Festival, a special jury prize at the Worldfest – Houston International Film Festival, the Hollywood Film Festival’s Most Innovative Feature award and lastly, the Producer Award for Foster and Dennis at the inaugural El Paso Film Festival.
The film has opened in LA this month.
Enjoy a special screening of “Time Trap” in theaters Friday and Saturday, November 9th and 10th at Alamo Drafthouse Mueller. The directors will be in attendance at Friday night’s screening for a special Q&A. Tickets can be purchased through Alamo Drafthouse’s website. It will be available on Digital and VOD November 13th.
INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTORS BEN FOSTER AND MARK DENNIS
Upon meeting the filmmakers, I told them about having viewed their film in the theater and not a device. Both of the filmmakers were very happy and said I was one of only a small group of people, one to two thousand, who have seen the film in the theater. Mark Dennis [MD] immediately responded that the “big screen is the best way” as it was “not made for the phone.”
Q – How did you start out with this film?
MD – It was the first film after “Strings” and we were working on another project, but changed to this one. It was written in mid- May and shot in August, as we kept the first date.
Ben Foster [BF] – We had to keep the timeframe. An agreement is made with the actors for a certain time and need to stay with it in order to keep the actor’s scheduled time.
Q – I know there have to have been many challenges filming given the setting. Can you each name one?
MD – The scale of the production is bigger than expected. There were all the trailers, trucks and equipment needed for the film. Before, we only had ten people on the set. With this film, there were over forty cars and seventy people on set. I think we ruined someone’s field.
BF – The challenge is probably working with Mark. When we get to the set, we get even more ideas. Some people get mad. Ultimately, we have to do what is best for the movie.
Q – What did each of you learn from this experience?
BF – Have a script and have a clear plan (even though there are many ideas on set). Storyboard!
MD – The script is not shitty. We received and email from the Oscars and they want to archive the film in their vault. I learned that I have to be prepared and know about all the jobs. On set, they all come to you with questions. We (Ben and I) discussed and then split up so each cover the different areas, and then people know to go to Ben for certain topics and me for others.
Q – Can you talk about the casting?
BF – J. C. Cantu is from South Texas and lives in California. He found the cast and the actors were recommended for the work they have done so far (and growing).
MD – They are all up and coming actors. We did not have the money for expensive talent. The casting director said these were the ones. Cassidy has been in a horror movie and Brianne is in The Exorcist (TV). One is even brother to Luke and Owen Wilson.
BF – When the cast has been in bigger shows, they know what is done from the bigger budget productions. We do things our way. They teach us as a result.
Foster, Dennis and Zachary Matz produced under Foster/Dennis’ Pad Thai Pictures banner.
Benjamin Jacob Fernandez Foster is a first generation Cuban-American film director and activist who helmed the award-winning independent films “Time Trap” (2017) and “Strings” (I) (2011) and produced the social awareness documentary “Lunch Hour.” Foster’s great-uncle was iconic Cuban filmmaker, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, known for “Strawberry and Chocolate” (1993), “Guantanamera” (1995), “Stories of the Revolution” (1960), “Hasta cierto punto” (1983).
Source: Paladin Films and Giant Interactive, TimeTrapmovie.com, Pad Thai Pictures, IMDb