Drake Doremus is a fan of bad love. Though the filmmaker started out making comedies, including 2010’s “Douchebag,” his last three outings have been about relationships that face some kind of adversity. With “Like Crazy,” it was because of immigration headaches. In “Breathe In,” it was about an affair. The lovebirds in “Equals” face the worst hurdle: Played by Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart, they live in an antiseptic dystopia where feelings are believed to be a disease. Love is forbidden, and the two try and hide their relationship, since it’s punishable by death.
This isn’t a huge film, relatively speaking, but it is big for you. Did you still have room to shoot in the semi-improvisatory way with which you made your previous films?
Yes and no. It was cool making something bigger and forcing myself to try something new. We had more tools; we had a little more time. There’s over 700 VFX shots in the movie, but it’s very practical. There’s no green screen. There’s a lot of locations we built, but a lot of them are real, too. For the most part it felt like we were in the backyard, still making our little intimate movies. It did and it didn’t feel different in the right ways. I’ve been working with the same production team for many years, and we didn’t want it to feel not us.
I always wonder what it’s like for those directors who made tiny indies and their follow-up film is some $200 million extravaganza.
I can’t imagine that. To me, this is a pretty big movie. But never say never! I’d like to make bigger films, if it’s the right story and the right time in my life. But I also miss making smaller movies, to be honest. I want to make those as well.
Were there aspects of this production that were particularly hard for you?
The effects. I don’t have a lot of patience with that stuff. I had to learn a lot. It took a very long time. We shot this movie two years ago, and it’s just coming out now. A lot of that is due to the months and months and months of working with different VFX teams all over the world. Often times you go back and forth, back and forth, keep pushing. It’s a really tricky process. But I’m really proud of the effects in the movie. They feel very real, and that’s because we took so much time to get it right. I do look forward to making movies with less visual effects, though. [Laughs]