Available on Apple TV +, the film Finch features Tom Hanks alone in the world, with his dog, in a post-apocalyptic universe. So as not to leave his best friend alone, he builds a robot to keep him company. Meeting with the director
With Finch, Tom Hanks replays Alone in the world but 20 years later in a very different atmosphere. Goodbye the desert island and hello to a post-apocalyptic world where almost all of humanity has disappeared after solar storms ravaged the planet. But instead of being one-on-one with Wilson, he shares his loneliness with Goodyear, an adorable dog. And Jeff, a robot he invented to keep Goodyear company after his death.
Behind the camera, this ambitious science fiction production, we find Miguel Sapochnik, the director known for having directed some of the most spectacular episodes of Game of Thrones. Meet the man who led Tom Hanks, the dog Goodyear and Caleb Landry Jones who lends his body and his voice to Jeff.
AlloCiné: How do you go from Game of Thrones to Finch? What attracted you to directing it?
Miguel Sapochnik : Actually I have been working with one of the film’s writers, Ivor Powell, for over 25 years and it was again the opportunity to work together on this film, Finch which he co-wrote (with Craig Lucj, editor’s note). I have also always been drawn to the world of science fiction. In addition, it changed me from the universe of Game of Thrones with its swarm of actors, action scenes, while here it is a more “intimate” film with two main characters, that of Finch played by Tom Hanks and his robot friend, Jeff, who is voiced by actor Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out, The Florida Project). It did me good to move on to something other than the massive production of Game of Thrones.
Have you been inspired by other post-apocalyptic films?
Yes, when you make a film like this, it’s hard not to have certain reference films in mind. One film that inspired me a lot is Luc Besson’s first film, The Last Fight. Because it’s a universe quite similar to Finch’s conceptually. But there are also references to The Book of Eli. There are many films that show a post-apocalyptic world that is totally desolate and where there is great loneliness in the hearts of the few survivors who still inhabit this planet.
But I avoided seeing all these films again and preferred to talk to a large number of scientists to be as true as possible. I wanted to understand what our world could be like with a gamma ray flare. Despite the depressing tone of the film, given the situation Finch finds himself in, we also wanted to lighten the mood of the film with a touch of humor so that the message of the film was about hope and not despair. It is a perilous exercise.
What are the themes and messages of this film?
It’s a film about maturity and old age. It’s a film about sharing human experiences, whether you’re an aging parent or a growing young one. In this sense, it is a film about transmission, about the legacy that we give to the next generation. I see how I am linked with my growing child and my aging parents, I am the link between these two generations and it is a whole family transmission that takes place between us. Sometimes we don’t talk enough about the trauma we can experience as we grow older or older. I hope this film will serve as a catalyst for better communication and conversation to be established between people.
Tell us about the different challenges you had to overcome with this film, especially with the creation and animation of the robot Jeff.
In fact, the creation of Jeff, played by Caleb, was not that difficult and we found a technical way to shoot all the scenes with him in “the skin” of the robot. Then it was in post-production that we replaced him with this fully digitally created character. Caleb has a great emotional expression and I think that’s why Jeff seems so alive.
In fact the most complicated thing was to find the funding, which is quite heavy, to make our film. Fortunately we had Tom Hanks on board which convinced Apple to support us and give us the green light. And not to mention the support of Spielberg with his company Amblin and Walden Media. It’s a real team effort to put together a film and bring it to life.
Exactly, why Tom Hanks, why is he the perfect Finch?
He was immediately fascinated by the script. I didn’t have to convince him. And then our film is produced, in part, by his lifelong friend, Robert Zemeckis with whom he had made Forrest Gump and Alone in the world. I was also a little intimidated by them when I met them because I grew up with their films which had an influence on my career.
Then I had to wait a year and a half before I could direct Finch because I had made a commitment to finish filming Game of Thrones. But surprisingly, Tom was kind enough to wait for me and we were able to make the film together. What a fantastic experience because he is an actor who is always ready but who, at the same time, knows how to listen and collaborate.