Sharlto Copley and Tony Stone Aim For “Deep And Dynamic Tale” Of ‘TED K’

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Director Tony Stone and Sharlto Copley team up for Ted K, a locked in narrative that centers on The Unabomber. During the interview, the pair elaborated on why Ted K offers completely different insights into the mindset of Ted Kaczynski. Full video and Q&A is featured in the post!

Sharlto Copley in ‘Ted K’ (NEON)

What were the keys to collaborating on Ted K, which is a very stylistic yet insular narrative?

Sharto Copley: I was quite surprised that the Ted that I could research through interviews or the only YouTube interview with him where you hear him speak (and) the diaries that were available and the volume of the material that was available on Ted . . . I was quite surprised how different portrayals of him have been.

In talking to Tony, we were on the same page with that. It was kind of like, no one has really captured this guy properly although there have been some versions of his story told in the media.

No one has really done it as accurately as, just as basically, how he speaks and what his accent is like. As we went, we had that same perspective. Let’s unravel this guy and sort of capture him as realistically as we could with some degree of stylization on top.

Tony Stone: We’ve seen so much content that seemed to oversimplify the story. Sharlto and I realized how much more was there. We had tens of thousands of pages of his diaries to look through and really understand the person. The more we dug, the more interesting the story got.

Literally almost to the last day of filming we were finding out new information that we wish we could put it. It’s a very deep, dynamic tale that we wanted to get right and get the balance of this guy and not have this simplistic, vilification (portrayal) that we are used to seeing.

If we felt that way, others probably feel that way too. Let’s just make this film and see if people are interested.

Can you talk about creating the sound design for Ted K? It immediately locks you into the narrative.

Tony Stone: Sound is so crucial to the movie because obviously that is what drove Ted Kaczynski mad. We really needed to hear sound the way he heard it.

It was over amplified. In a way, was it louder than it actually was? Of course, but when you’re obsessed with it, you hear it a certain way. We really wanted to have the sound be as subjective as possible. You’d hear it from where Ted was in the land but hear it more in a grating level than you and me would hear. A lot went into that.

But then to contrast that with the beautiful nature – the idyllic part. (It was a combination of) deep industrial sounds with euphoric nature sounds. And then have this sonic overload of music that Ted Kaczynski liked – the baroque mixed with this kind of oversaturated, synthetic analogue sound to reinforce what Ted was feeling.

Sharlto Copley in ‘Ted K’ (NEON)

‘Ted K’ also spotlights how technology has encroached on our every day lives. Can you discuss that element about the feature?

Sharlto Copley: Very much for me, that was the reason to make the film. I realized how much technology is in control of my life. How little there is I can do about it. 

Before the movie, I had a friend of mine tell me that, I think it was around 2012 when the number of suicides globally eclipsed the number of deaths by murder or warfare or basically human on human violence. 

And now it’s something like 4 or 5 times higher. Our society is not happy globally. As much as everything has gotten better and easier, somehow we are not happier. That is an interesting question to ask why.

Tony Stone: The environmental degradation we’re going through and sure it’s one man who is upset on what is going on in his backyard. The scale of the actual environmental degradation of what is happening worldwide right now and the climate cliff we’re about to go off of, this story has become far more relevant.

His ideas about technology eventually controlling us, I think that has happened. It’s been a slow, incremental acceleration of technology ruling our lives in a way 30 years ago we would have never accepted.

The fact that it’s been slowly creeping up on us – we’re locked in a system that has a lot of issues and has created a lot of unhappiness. 

We review TED K on the latest episode of Find Your Film:

Can you name one of your favorite films and what is it about this specific movie that still resonates with you today?

Sharlto Copley: You go first Tony

Tony Stone: You want me to pick one? How about five. Maybe they all made their way into Ted K

Blade Runner. Heat. Taxi Driver. The Shining. Barry Lyndon. And Repo Man

Sharlto Copley: The one that leads to my mind for me is Dead Poets Society just in terms of the effect that it can have. I saw that movie change my father’s whole life, his career, and everything. He was an educator and it moved him to that degree that it kind of really changed his life.

For me, it’s that Carpe Diem, seize the day boys, make your life extraordinary. The whole idea that you are going to be fertilizer and daffodils. That scene is just entrenched in my mind. I think about it often. 

Tony don’t you think Barry Lyndon is the most underrated Stanley Kubrick film?

I totally agree. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if they have the patience for it – in a way it’s my favorite. But obviously everyone of Kubrick’s films are rewatchable. That is the goal of films – and all the films I’ve listed are rewatchable cinema. Barry Lyndon is an absolute masterpiece.

And Sharlto, did watching Stone’s Peter and the Farm inspire you to work with him on Ted K?

Sharlto Copley: Peter and the Farm was profound and it was very good moments and there was intensity to it. Yeah definitely check it out.

Tony Stone: By the way, Peter and the Farm was the training ground for this Ted Kaczynski tale. The nonfiction version.

Thank you guys for your time and I really love the film.

Sharlto Copley: Thanks Greg

Tony Stone: Thank You.

Ted K is now out in theaters and is available On Demand.

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