A new dinosaur film made in Montreal

A new dinosaur movie made in Montreal

UPGRADE DAY

Like many filmmakers of his generation, Montrealer Aristomenis Tsirbas grew up watching E.T. The Alien, Back to the Future and other famous sci-fi classics from the 1980. Featuring Timescape: Back to the Dinosaurs, the 55-year-old director wanted to revisit this genre in his own way by writing a family adventure film that mixes time travel, flying saucers and dinosaurs.

Shot in Montreal and Rawdon in the fall of 2019, Timescape: Back to the Dinosaurs tells the story of Jason (Sofian Oleniuk), a young geeky boy who accidentally discovers a mysterious flying saucer that just landed in a forest near his home. 

Upon entering the machine, he meets Lara (Lola Rossignol-Arts), a young girl who has also just discovered the device. By trying to understand how the UFO works, the two children will unwittingly trigger a function allowing time travel, and will be immediately propelled to the age of the dinosaurs, to the beginning of their extinction. 

“When my producer [David-Alexandre Coiteux] gave me the idea of ​​making a family film, I thought about the kind of film I myself liked to watch when I was young”, confides Aristomenis Tsirbas, in a telephone interview granted to the Journal.

“I immediately thought back to the science fiction classics that marked my childhood and my adolescence. So I tried to revisit this genre by giving it a modern touch. There are elements of that in my film, with time travel, science fiction, humor and archetypes. But ultimately, my goal was to write a story about trust. Throughout his adventure, Jason's character must learn to trust others.”

Benefiting from a modest budget for this type of production, Aristomenis Tsirbas shot the film in just 21 days with a small crew, mostly Canadian and Quebec. The filmmaker, who worked for several years in the field of visual effects, then spent more than two years polishing the post-production of his second feature film (after Battle for Terra). 

“We all worked very hard to maximize the film's budget,” says the filmmaker. It was teamwork. Personally, I have acquired a lot of experience over the past thirty years in visual effects and story-board,so I was able to use all this knowledge for the making of the film.”

At the school of James Cameron

It was by working in the field of visual effects that Aristomenis Tsirbas made his debut in the world of cinema. And it started in Montreal, his hometown.

“I got my start in visual effects right here in Montreal, working for the International Auto Show in 1996!” he says with a laugh. 

“The same year I moved to Los Angeles and the first project I worked on there was Titanic by James Cameron. I then participated in several projects, including My Favorite Martian (Disney) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was my way of making my way to a directing career. Visual effects allowed me to put food on the table while I aspired to be a director. It's not the easiest way to make your way and it can take a long time. But I liked working in visual effects. It's an asset that serves me a lot today.”

Aristomenis Tsirbas makes no secret of it: as a Canadian director trying to find his place in Hollywood, James Cameron remains a model for him.

“He is extremely passionate and he is definitely one of the hardest working people in this industry,” says Aristomenis Tsirbas of the director of Titanic and Avatar

“It is first and foremost this work ethic that I retain from him. He is very demanding of himself and of the members of his team. It takes a lot of work and perseverance to carry out projects as ambitious as his. It's admirable to see what he's managed to do.”

Timescape: Back to the Dinosaurs hit theaters yesterday in the original English version and in the French dubbed version.