What happens to our consciousness after we die has always been one of humanity’s greatest mysteries. From reincarnation to eternal nothingness, it’s one question that will never truly be answered - but it hasn’t stopped people from theorising. In this instance, award-winning director Ben Brand offers a new perspective on life after death and humanity with his powerful new short film ‘Re/Entry’, based on the short story from bestselling author Andy Weir (The Martian).
The nine-minute short is adapted from literary text ‘The Egg’, which originally premiered online in 2009. Having been translated into over 30 languages, it is the most popular short story from Andy Weir, whose latest novel ‘Hail Project Mary’ has recently been acquired by MGM with Ryan Gosling attached to star in and produce.
The story follows a man who dies in a car accident and, upon reawakening, strikes up a conversation with God. As all his questions are answered, we are given a powerful insight into the meaning of life - and where we will end up after we pass away.
Director Ben Brand was inspired to adapt the short story after reading it online when it was first published. After immediately connecting with the narrative, he reached out to author Andy Weir directly and received a response half an hour later, giving him permission to adapt the short. After years of working on the perfect script and exploring just how to translate the dialogue-heavy narrative into a film, Ben found his inspiration in the form of actor Johnny Bang Reilly.
Ben Brand comments: “Every year I’d work on the script, and every year I’d throw it away. Last year whilst I was trying again, I heard the voice of Johnny. It just clicked in my head: this is the voice of God. It wasn’t like Morgan Freeman or the classical ‘God voice’, it was a vulnerable, understated man from England. I pitched the idea to him, he really liked it, and I asked him if he could record the voices of both characters so I could listen. He recorded it on his iPhone and sent it to me, and it was brilliant. We actually stuck with his original recording for the final film, slightly adapting the second voice to make it sound a little different. It’s perfect in a way, because they’re ultimately the same being - it really plays into the idea that the man will one day become a God himself.”
In order to capture the truly universal experience of life embodied by the protagonist, the crew travelled across the world to Namibia, Thailand, Iraq, and Belgium during a five-month period. Exploring remote jungle habitats and war-torn cities, the 20-day shoot allowed Ben to showcase a stunning range of human experience whilst intercutting with the atmospheric scenes in the forest.
Ben Brand comments: “One thing I always maintained from the very start was that I didn’t want a single shot in the film that we hadn’t captured ourselves. It was very important to me that each moment in the film was natural, not just random shots put together from stock footage. Nothing in our film, aside from the scenes of our protagonist in the forest, was fabricated. The cast were predominantly non-actors, the footage is authentic, and every shot plays a role in the narrative. Travelling all over the world in such a short period of time and meeting all these people made me realise we really are all the same - it was wonderful to actually experience the connectedness that we explore in the film.”
The film, which is Ben Brand’s fifth Vimeo Staff Pick, is available to watch online.
Ben Brand is represented by Great Guns in the USA, UK, and Asia.