Director Alex Garland, as well as stars Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander talk about their approach to bringing Ex Machina to life in this Film4 interview.

There is a little bit of everything in the interview, but there were a couple of discussion points that I thought would definitely benefit indie directors and screenwriters.

Give your audience someone in the film to relate to

Film is a mirror. When we watch films we want see ourselves in the characters (mostly the protagonist) to the point where we allow our emotions to reflect theirs. This is why it's so important to create characters that are relatable on some level so that the viewer can experience the struggles, triumphs, changes, and sentiments of at least one of the characters. It allows them to engage with the story on a deeper level than if they were just merely being entertained by flashing lights and loud noises. Garland took great care to employ this concept in Ex Machina, namely with the title character Caleb. He says:

Ideally, if the film functions, something is happening to the audience which is equatable with what is happening to the protagonist -- So as he's being seduced, we're being seduced. And as we're being confused, he's being confused.

Alex-garland-ex-machinaDirector Alex Garland directing Alicia Vikander

Don't over-rehearse, but come prepared

Until a film is finished it's pretty much a living, breathing thing. Sure, we write scripts and draft shot lists in an attempt to be prepared when it comes time to shoot, but Garland explains the delicate balance between over-rehearsing and under-rehearsing. Essentially as a director, you want to be ready to answer any and all questions that may pop up on set (something echoed by director Kevin Smith), but you also want to let the project breathe and develop naturally as a piece of art. In Garland's words, "You don't want to kill the thing -- but you don't want to have big conversations about motivation on the day." He suggests giving actors three takes: one to "get it right" the way it was planned beforehand, and two to explore new possibilities in performance. Remember, actors are professionals, too. They can give you so much if you just give them room to work.

Source: Film4