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Gideon Homes [Interview]

23 min read

The touching film debut of director Gideon Homes.

In 'Return To Planet Underground,' director Gideon Homes presents audiences with an enthralling glimpse into the Dutch underground techno scene, delivering a gripping dark milieu drama filled with intense moments and poignant human tragedies.

The narrative revolves around a former underground techno DJ navigating the labyrinth of a prestigious law firm, only to spiral down into the shadows of a society already at war. Caught in moral gray areas, he confronts the past while glimpsing an uncertain future, stirring amidst the remnants of the real underground.

This film is not merely a visual feast; it's a compelling exploration that immerses viewers in the lives of its protagonists. Set against the backdrop of driving techno beats, 'Return To Planet Underground' takes audiences on a rollercoaster ride through the highs and lows of human desires, drug-fueled escapades, social pressures and the pursuit of perfectionism. It's a cinematic intoxication that lingers.

Drawing inspiration from iconic films such as Trainspotting, Berlin Calling, and Human Traffic, Gideon Homes' work stands out with its unique stylistic devices and unconventional storylines. The film touches the soul in ways distinct from its influences, promising an unforgettable experience. Grounded in true events and personal experiences, 'Return To Planet Underground' faced numerous legal challenges before finally breaking free to captivate audiences worldwide. Prepare for an immersive dive into a world where music, morality, and the human spirit collide.

With the premiere of 'Return To Planet Underground' set for April 4th, Progressive Astronaut caught up with Gideon to learn more about the release of the film, the backstory behind it and much more. Enjoy.

Hi Gideon, thanks for joining us today, how was your holiday and new years? And what are your plans for the week?

Thank you for having me. My holiday was good as it was spend with family. Plans are to recover from a period filled with pressure and after that hopefully a positive new adventure.

Your directorial debut ‘Return To Planet Underground’ has just come out, so firstly, how did you become interested in directing films? And what are your favorite movies and why?

If you do not believe in coincident, this path was laid out for me and I hope I did not squander it. So I think having said this, Dune (2021) is my favorite movie at this moment. The Matrix (1999) made in big impression and Trainspotting (1996). I think subculture has always been interesting to me, so I think it reflects in my favorite movies.

Further I did not have any interest in directing films but I watch a lot of movies. To be honest the first day I took over the project, I cried within myself not having any experience and having fired the previous director. My first day on set, I found myself in a scene with a lot of sexy girls dressed in latex. I thought what did I get myself into, but this was just day one and it would get so so much worse.

Tell us a bit about ‘Return To Planet Underground’, it’s been described as a look at the techno scene in The Netherlands during the late 90’s is that right? Is that what inspired the film creatively? And if so please tell us why that moment in electronic music history is so fascinating for you.

I think the framework is set in a more surrealistic time-setting. A dimension you do not see but is there I think. The movie has different layers but leave room for the views interpretation I think. Topics like slavery/modern slavery, judgment, social imbalance collide within the circumstances, which the many characters find themselves.

Concepts in the movie are of course techno/electronic music which can be seen in the movie by a different way of story telling a bit more abstract that normal, I would not compare myself with Christopher Nolan but the non linear story telling appeals to my as I think noting in linear in real life.

Other concept in the story is Underground, what does it mean, I think connection this word in the music scene to a more society based definition make it interesting and something to think about.

I understand there was some legal push back due to the story, which delayed the release date of the film, please tell us about those and how they got resolved.

The law and concept of judgement is a important part of the story, if there was no push back, it would not have been what it is. Hopefully the push back within the process gave a good result for the viewer.

Can you describe your creative process and how (if at all) did it evolve over the course of this movie?

The creative process was one of adjustment and constantly reshaping. The team I assembled where a group of people from different cultures, ages but all with a mind set of getting it done and helping each other out on set as we had a relatively small crew for the production. I needed people how knew the illegal party scene and where not afraid of doing something over the line.

Aside from the legalities mentioned previously, what were the most difficult obstacles when directing ‘Return To Planet Underground’ and how did you overcome those obstacles?

The were so many obstacles I think this is normal making a creative film but I think when you have people who are go beyond than you can finish the project. So and this will sound unlikable you have to cut the people from the project who do not have the creative mind set and I just are working for the money.

Can you explain the process you use to create a visual story arc for ‘‘Return To Planet Underground’?

Visually the movie should be like techno / electro it should not be like the normal everyday life people know. It should be something you do not see every day or have not seen. And than it should not be done in the typical movie cinematography that most use. So every scene should have it’s own color spectrum without having looked at it form the point of the whole movie. It was approach like making a song/track and after that incorporating it in a dj set, that you will see that the tracks so not fit at all places in the mix so there come a challenge telling the story.

You had a cast and crew of well over twenty people. How did you manage a large cast and crew to ensure that everyone was working towards the same vision?

I think nobody really knows what the vision for the movie was. I think the people I worked with ,gave me room to do my thing as I was still searching for it within the process. But with a the relatively small crew and a relatively big cast for this production, key on set was keeping a nice friendly vibe which made working in the dark possible.

Can you describe your approach to directing actors and bringing out authentic performances?

For me actors I approach as artists whom you drive from the airport to the hotel, have dinner with and escort to their gig as host of the event. You talk to them, try to give them a good time and give them for information about the culture and the people of the city. Hopefully as professionals they will incorporate this in the music they will play that night. So with the actors I gave them some background insight of the characters and I asked them to make there own version of the character.

In terms of the budget for shooting a film like this, how did you manage that and did you ever feel constrained by budget limitations?

Personally the limited budget is part of the DNA of this project. To me it would be strange to make a movie about the underground with a big budget. But I think shooting your debut movie during corona was also a challenge. All with all it took 2,5 years to complete is, because all the setbacks we had.

What other directors have influenced you and your style and more specifically ‘Return To Planet Underground’?

Maybe someone else can tell who they think I am influenced by. For me I just hope at this moment people will have a great 90 minute experience and experience something different than most think that are out there at the moment. And when having seen it they will not think I wasted their time and mine.

Looking back on the process of directing this film, are there things you would done differently now and if so what?

I have thought about this so many times during the process because some scenes were re-done. When looking back on the footage you are always looking at scenes with the eye of how could we have made it better. But I also know that re-doing some scenes would not give a better result as the vibe within the scene would change. So and the end of the day, I just hope it turn out the way it was supposed to be and I did not fuck it up with stupid shit.

How different was what you initially envisioned the film being like before the process began to how it turned out in the end?

This idea came to me in 1998 when visiting an illegal party and a guy was filming the whole night. The same guy helped me with this project. But it turned out to be something more than just underground techno. No it is about something more, maybe something spiritual and about having nothing, being the biggest loser and an outcast.

You are also a well known techno DJ and producer of course, so how did those skills help you in your directorial debut?

Thank you for the kind words but I had a long break form dj-ing. I think I stopped doing gigs in 2012 with a few expectations. My techno period is long over after having played the mayor techno clubs in Europe. At this moment I am having more feeling in the studio with NON techno stuff, more progressive spacy with some Detroit and electro influences. But about the movie I think my skills helped me out in many parts of the movie. Doing the editing and the music part in the movie is the most obvious part in which these skills are very useful.

This was only Part 1 of ‘Return To Planet Underground’, so many will wonder if there will be a Part 2 and if so when would the shooting start on that?

Like Dune, the Matrix and trainspotting the all have sequels. Looking at the story of “Return To Planet Underground” I think it should have a sequel. But the first movie took almost 2,5 years to complete, so I am first taking a vacation to think about what is next. But you will be one of the first to know on PA!

What tips would you give aspiring filmmakers who are just starting their careers?

Goodluck! And Godspeed.

'Return To Planet Underground' will be available April 4th via Vimeo: https://tinyurl.com/yjuh6mzy

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