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Interview: Daniel Mitura and More Talk New Sci-Fi Short Film LAUNCH AT PARADISE

What are the costs of creating a unified perspective that could end racism, violence, and insurrection?

Interview: Daniel Mitura and More Talk New Sci-Fi Short Film LAUNCH AT PARADISE

New York based actor and producer Daniel Mitura is best known for THE HOBBYIST (2016) and LOYALTY (2018). During the global pandemic, he wrote and took part in the filming of his latest short film, LAUNCH AT PARADISE. The new science-fiction short explores the costs of creating a unified perspective for all humankind that has the potential to end racism, violence, and insurrection. We sat down with Mitura, members of his cast, and a producer for an inside look at the soon-to-be-released film.


What was the initial inspiration for LAUNCH AT PARADISE?

Daniel Mitura (Writer/Actor): The initial inspiration came from a profound love of the science fiction genre and its ability to create strikingly beautiful images while asking the deepest of religious and moral questions. In a year where everyone faced a sense of disconnection, it created a desire to re-evaluate what human connection means and what we can achieve with it; the other side of that equation was a desire to probe the deeper implications of how we use the power of connection to better understand ourselves and our own souls.

The film questions if ending racism, violence, and insurrection is worth the price of killing individual thought. What about exploring this question drew you to this particular project?

Daniel Mitura: Science fiction allows us to explore the idea of how we might be able to make humanity better by using the technology we have created on ourselves. If we think of advancements in medical science that attempt to elongate our lives and make them healthier and more productive, why not use that same scientific genius to expand our brains and thought processes-not just in a mathematical or fact-based way, but what if technology could also improve our moral reasoning? So much of violence and hate comes from a limited perspective, why not use technology to broaden the capacity of our minds to see beyond the limits that cause us to misunderstand and fight with each other?

Zainab Jah (Actor): The themes employed in the film, particularly towards ending racism, is highly prescient for this time we are living in. Not just in America, but worldwide. It brings up how we live with the consequences we face when our moral codes are put to task. How far are we willing to go to get the results we need? Can we live with our decisions?

Dee Dee Perry (Producer): While the film doesn't explicitly address racism, it certainly asks whether ending ignorance, which is a common denominator for a host of insufferable societal horrors, warrants destroying the free-thinking mind. This question also more cryptically asks what kind of society can be created out of people whom have no individuality? A society of zombies, if you will. I don't claim to know the answer to these questions, but I find them unfortunately timely as our world struggles to save itself from itself, while still preserving the best of our humanity, which is arguably inseparable from one's authentic and unique identity.

Interview: Daniel Mitura and More Talk New Sci-Fi Short Film LAUNCH AT PARADISE
Daniel Mitura and Catherine Curtin in a still from LAUNCH AT PARADISE
(courtesy Launch at Paradise).

Another prevalent theme is the sheer power of technology. In your views, why is this so relevant?

Zainab Jah: Technology is the god we are governed by in this modern world. It's worth exploring how much of our agency, especially with regards to privacy, is being taken from us in exchange for instant access to information.

Dee Dee Perry: We live in a moment when billions of people walk around with devices that can track their every move and record their every conversation. So, the relevance of asking "when is enough technology enough" lands squarely on the digital nose. Furthermore, if technology "progresses" to a point where it equips people to inflict irreversible harm, does the society have to be abandoned altogether for peace-or Paradise-to be realized? Food for thought!

Daniel Mitura: As human beings we develop our character through our actions, with the actions we choose being determined by our morality and what outcomes we hope to achieve. The power of technology to multiply our options and enable actions, both good and bad, that we could not accomplish under our own capabilities puts our morality under greater and greater pressure. The more connected we become, thanks to technology, the more profound our effect can be on others, for good or evil, something we must take responsibility for-we must look far beyond our motives or intentions and consider the larger implications at all times.

James Harkness (Actor): Technology is changing our lives at a rate that could be considered alarming if you stopped to look at it. Its value is obvious, but what may not be as obvious are the ways it hinders. That people use a device to tell another device to pop their popcorn or to turn on a light that you walked right by is worrisome to me. Technology that is meant to help us communicate, help us connect is in other more important ways separating us. We don't even know what other things are waiting to be unveiled that could further removes us from the things that make us human.

What was it like filming LAUNCH AT PARADISE during the global pandemic?

Daniel Mitura: Our fearless and brilliant director Carrie Ann Quinn made the filming an absolute joy. Her vision and leadership certainly carried the day! Sharing scenes with these amazing actors made many of the difficulties disappear during our long shoot days.

Zainab Jah: Making this film, for me, was a welcome and needed endeavor. As artists, we thrive in a collaborative environment and coming together on this project presented a sense of hope that we will get through this here pandesonic-pandemonium, dagnabbit!

James Harkness: For me the pandemic was not the issue. It was cold! I think it took two days for my toes to thaw out from standing on that roof with Daniel.

Interview: Daniel Mitura and More Talk New Sci-Fi Short Film LAUNCH AT PARADISE
James Harkness and Daniel Mitura in a still from LAUNCH AT PARADISE
(courtesy Launch at Paradise).

Naturally, the pandemic created a lot of hardships for many. Were there any elements of this project that were made better or easier because of the pandemic?

Zainab Jah: Personally, making this film was a no-brainer. I really love and admire Daniel's writing and thought process in terms of storytelling, and I always welcome the opportunity to work with him.

Daniel Mitura: I think that everyone was thrilled to be in a room working with one another again, which lent a wonderful degree of focus and gratitude which made the environment one of the nicest sets I have worked on!

James Harkness: Focus and connection were easier in my opinion. With life being slower, things were more in focus for me.

Dee Dee Perry: Filming this was the most exhilarating experience I had all pandemic, hands down. The energy of shared gratitude, excitement, dissipating cabin fever, and joy was rich in the air. After being confined for a year, it was like opening a window in a stuffy, old, cobweb-infested, attic!

Without being prescriptive in meaning/interpretation of the art, what do you hope audiences will take away from seeing LAUNCH AT PARADISE?

Daniel Mitura: So much of last year was incredibly difficult, painful, and frustrating for so many people. I hope that through the beauty of the images, delicacy of the performances, and overall sweep of the story that people will understand that the life and consciousness we currently have-and that has been so heavy on all of us this past year-is but a small fraction of the experience and life of our souls and spirits. We should widen our perspectives and broaden our viewpoints to the degree that we believe all can be overcome in this world and the next. The human spirit is inexhaustible and points towards expansion, freedom, growth, and positivity, so we should ride that wave no matter the challenges that we face.

Dee Dee Perry: I hope they savor THE RIDE on a visceral level as much as we do! I also hope watching the film plants seeds in viewers' minds about the possibilities of societal resets.

What advice would you offer to others hoping to make films?

Daniel Mitura: It takes a lot of work, but when you have an absolutely brilliant and ridiculously talented team like we did, anything is possible!

Dee Dee Perry: Go for it! A great team and a leap of faith are the ingredients for magic to happen for anyone!

Zainab Jah: As an actor aspiring to make and direct my own films, working with Daniel was inspiring. It just told me so clearly that one should trust in what one has to offer, and to surround oneself with like-minded individuals who respect and share that vision. Just go for it! Anything is possible.

For more information about the film please visit www.djdlproductions.com or www.launchatparadise.com.



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