The tension is eerie and palpable as The Sound of My Voice moves with skill and alacrity into the bizarre world of futures cultism. The story centers around L.A. documentary filmmakers Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) as they follow Maggie (Brit Marling), a hauntingly beautiful young woman who claims to be a time traveler from the year 2054. Her mission: to recruit and train an army for a coming civil war.
Seeking to debunk the cult, Peter and Lorna submit to the group’s bizarre demands—a cleansing shower and being bound, blindfolded and led to a basement to meet Maggie, Klaus (Richard Wharton), the cult’s long-haired avuncular leader, and several other followers.
Shot for under $500,000 director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij indicated that he and Marling have already outlined a three-film series–with plans to shoot the final two films as a trilogy, or a TV or internet series. He noted that taking the project online would enable viewers to experience Sound of My Voice on laptops, allowing for a higher level of intimacy.
I asked Marling and Batmanglij if they were influenced by the classic sci-fi works of Philip K. Dick. Batmanglij replied, “How could you not be? We all came of age with him. ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ are stories that are within us. In making this film, my question was, why couldn’t you do a smaller film with these themes? Why relegate them to big, special effects block busters? Science fiction is about exploring the unseen, the unknown or the yet to come—these things fascinate us,” said Batmanglij.
Asked how the duo arrived at the ending for their film, Batmanglij, explained their process, “For this film, it was really a step-by-step process. If we went into a basement somewhere and were blindfolded and our hands were tied and we were introduced to this woman who claimed to be from the future, what would be the next step? What would happen? And the story sort of grew from that point.”
Batmanglij also explained their use of water as a time-travel medium, saying, “We wanted to stay away from machines, devices and other gadgetry that can quickly become dated in the viewer’s eyes. Water seemed more timeless, ethereal and organic.”
“We also wanted to tell a story where everything is grounded in the ordinary,” added Marling.
A gifted actress and writer, Marling wrote, produced and starred in a second Sundance 2011 sci-fi film, Another Earth, a complex, cerebral story about a girl who finds forgiveness on a new planet.
A graduate of economics from Georgetown university, Marling turned down a job with Goldman Sachs to pursue an artistic career. After being offered nothing but “cute blonde roles in horror movies,” she began to write and penned Another Earth and Sound of My Voice. Both offer the actress strong, substantial character driven roles.
The Sound of My Voice will be in theatres April 27th. See the 12-minute extended trailer.