For Curtin alumnus Dean Israelite, director of the found footage science fiction thriller, Project Almanac, life couldn’t be more successful.
Israelite’s directorial debut film follows five teenagers – David, Jessie, Quinn, Adam and Christina – who MacGyver a time machine from an Xbox 360, hydrogen canisters, copper wires and a smartphone, based on schematics found in a character’s basement.
The resulting story mixes plenty of comedy and drama, as the teenagers attempt to solve their problems and become popular, whilst inadvertently unleashing a butterfly effect of ramifications upon their friends and family.
The film has been heralded a time travel story for the modern audience, where the characters’ actions are all skilfully captured on the shaky cam aesthetic prevalent in online video-sharing websites.
But for the South African-born director, who had the opportunity to work with producer Michael Bay on the movie, the offer to direct Project Almanac almost didn’t come to pass.
“I had a movie fall apart three weeks from shooting and if that never happened I would never have gotten the opportunity to direct [Project Almanac]. You can only connect the dots backwards,” he says.
For Israelite, the dots started to take on their shape when he began studying at Curtin University.
“I love that Curtin afforded me the opportunity to go out and be really ambitious with my films,” he says.
“My proudest moment at Curtin was completing my third-year short film. It was incredibly ambitious and it’s a movie I still feel very proud of. The scope and scale taught me valuable lessons in my development as a young filmmaker.”
Israelite’s career only continues to grow, with several opportunities on the horizon, including the chance to direct a remake of the 1983 film, WarGames, in which a young hacker plays a nuclear war simulation that almost triggers World War III.
“As the director of the film, you are in charge of every creative decision that ends up in the final piece. It is your vision that ends up on screen,” he says.
“The best part of directing movies is the fact that you need to be versed and involved in so many different art forms: photography, acting, music, design, choreography, writing. Creatively, it is a very rich experience.”
Project Almanac has been released on over 3000 screens in the United States and internationally and grossed more than $32 million worldwide.