If you need a bit of grounded reality in a comic book/dystopian future driven flick, Code 8 fits the bill. Directed by Jeff Chan from his 2016 short, the narrative centers on Connor (Robbie Amell), a young man who uses his powers (he can manipulate electricity) to join a criminal outfit and use his earnings to pay for his dying mother’s (Cari Matchett) medical bills. My interview with Amell, as well as more info on the film, is below!
Stephen Amell co-stars in the feature as Garrett, the crime boss who influences Connor into joining his crew (the Amells, who also executive produced the project, are cousins). I loved the realistic and gritty approach to the material, and you can read my Code 8 review here.
Unfortunately Robbie Amell was vague about a Code 8 series or sequel during our interview, as a few hours later the eventual news was broken by Collider. That said, here’s my interview with Amell as he talks about how the passion behind the cast, crew and Indiegogo campaign backers helped make Code 8 his most creatively gratifying project to date.
There is so much world building within Code 8. Do you see a sequel or a possible series to continue the Code 8 universe?
I can’t say much, but if you look at mine and Stephen’s social media within the next day or two, you’ll be able to elaborate on my answer to that question. So yes we hope so and just keep an eye out.
Can you talk about the advantages of crowdfunding your film?
After the short film, we had a couple of studio offers. We met with them and they were good offers but ultimately we wanted to make sure that if we were going to make something, we were responsible for it.
Whether it succeeded or failed, it was on us. So that was the biggest part of the Indiegogo campaign – it gave us the freedom to make something that we would feel do the fans justice and that they would be proud of for putting their hard earned money into. We would be our own boss. The studio system is amazing and it creates a ton of incredible movies but it’s tough when you’re working with the budget (of Code 8).
We knew we weren’t going to be some big tentpole (film) so we wanted to write our own ticket. Without the Indiegogo campaign we wouldn’t have been able to do that.
We also had the perfect storm. It was the right place (and) at the right time in the world of Facebook algorithms and just having the short film be on the front page of Reddit was really big for us. It was really amazing. We got very lucky.
What’s great about Code 8 is that, amidst all the super powers and special effects, it feels like it’s grounded in reality where the stakes are very human.
That means so much that you say that. We wanted to make something relatable. Above all else we knew we had to make something entertaining. We wanted to make sure we delivered on that but we wanted to make a movie that we were fans of. We looked at movies like Chronicle and District 9 but also movies like Heat. At its core we wanted it to be a character drama about how far someone would go to save a loved one just because we knew it was something that everyone could relate to.
We didn’t want our move to live in this world of black and white or right and wrong, we wanted it to be a grey area where people would disagree about decisions the characters make. It’s easy to judge somebody when you’re not in their shoes, and with the sci-fi we wanted it to blend in the background. We wanted it to feel real and grounded and make it feel like it was five seconds in the future. The drones and the robotic police officers, I feel like we could see that any day now.
Is this one of your personal projects to date with all the work that was put in to the film?
It’s been a long journey but it’s been my favorite work experience of my life. To get to shoot with friends and family right from the beginning … the only reason the movie looks and feels as big as it is because the amount of sweat equity that all of our friends and family put in.
Everyone that worked in the project should have been working on a bigger project and getting paid more. They really cared about what we were making and they really wanted to make something special. We didn’t have a bad day on set – even when things went wrong and we had to put out fires, we were doing them with friends.
Also getting to share it with the Indiegogo backers – we had 300 people come and be extras one day on set and that is unheard of. These are people from all around the world – there were a couple from Toronto but there were a lot of people around the United States and around the world that flew in and put themselves up.
Getting to see that kind of passion from our fans and getting to share it on our little premiere tour was something I’ll never forget.
Can you name one of your favorite and what is it about this film that still resonates with you?
My favorite film probably off the top of my head is Batman Begins. I loved The Dark Knight as well but I love Batman Begins as an origin story. I dunno, it felt like the most grounded Batman story I had seen and I just loved everything about it. It ticks a lot boxes in the superhero space for me.
What is the key element that made Code 8 work you as a film?
Passion. Everybody that worked on Code 8 really gave a s**t about what they were doing every day. In our industry, there is so much stuff being made all the time and sometimes it’s easy to coast. That was the last thing everybody was thinking of. Everybody worked their ass off – everybody went above and beyond. That’s the only reason the movie worked.
I loved your movie and continued success!
Thanks so much I really appreciate it.
Code 8 hits theaters and On Demand December 13. My full audio interview with Robbie Amell is available for our CinemAddicts Patreon backers.