In Part 1 of our interview with filmmaker Sebastian Tobler, he talked about his short movie “Joyrider.” In this part, he talks about his next film, “This Time.”
Myra Dumapias: Tell us more about the characters in “This Time” and the title.
Sebastien Tobler: “This Time” has three meanings: “this time,” as in, “We have this time,” meaning right now; “this time” as in, “We can do it again this time,” because they meet again, or “this time,” like, “This time is passing.”
It’s about two international school kids who get split up because of the 1998 Jakarta Riots. They meet up again and they reconcile about a lot of things. One character doesn’t want to look back and the other character is having a hard time moving forward because they can’t let go of the past. They face that together when they meet randomly in Los Angeles. They spend a little more than 12 hours together.
MD: “Joyrider” is so powerful because it mimics your personal life a as a family. Will “This Time” go in that same direction?
ST: Style-wise will be a little different because we won’t be forcing perspective as much but we are going to be staying with just the two people the entire time. So it’s going to be intimate. We’re never going to not be with them. We are with them 90% of the film, individually just 10%.
The idea — same with “Joyrider” — was to get that sense of being present, being like you’re living in the moment with them and then being separated. Obviously, the being separated part is just as important as the being present part. They’re both very real aspects of our upbringing. That’s the emotional goal of both.
MD: Going back to your three levels of consciousness as a TCK, would you say your growth as a filmmaker and thematic focus is tied with your progression of TCK consciousness?
ST: I [directed] a sci-fi of a woman who brings back her former lover using her memories, the theory being that we are fundamentally our experiences and memories. If we can implant that into somebody else, they would theoretically become that person. That was “Animesis.” This was before I [knew about being] a TCK. . . . Before that was my very first short, “Fractured Legacy,” about a private school kid whose father blew the wealth. . . . [The kid] was ostracized by the community and his friends.
As I boiled down the themes, I boiled down production. “Joyrider” was a very important project. It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever done. In 20 years, once I get a couple more feature films in my pocket, I’ll look back and say, “That’s the film that changed it all.” [“Joyrider”] really is the keystone, the pivoting moment where the switch flipped.
Ultimately, I’m doing this for us. . . . Non-TCKs understand [“Joyrider”] as youthfulness and nostalgia, but the ones who will really get it are those who had a lot of mobility growing up. . . . This is just pure in that this is about being young and moving. A lot of have asked [about] how much of it was real. The story isn’t real. We’re still in the same house, same car. We’re still here. We just sold the idea of it, the emptiness, really well. There are universal themes, but really it’s for people like you and me, the readers of CULTURs, the members of TCKidNOW. It’s that community. Other folks will get it, but there’s a lot more context once you realize it’s about TCKs.
“Joyrider” screened at the Academy Award and BAFTA qualifying LA Shorts Festival in July as well as at the Newport Beach Film Festival in October.
Sebastien Tobler was born in Zurich, Switzerland to a Filipina mother and Swiss father, who served as a diplomat for the Swiss Foreign Service. Growing up, Tobler lived in Manila, Philippines; Arau, Switzerland; Warsaw, Poland; Jakarta, Indonesia; Bangkok, Thailand; London, England; and Washington, DC, USA. You can follow him on Twitter @sebastientobler and Instagram @sebastien_tobler to be updated on the progress of “This Time” as well as how to support “Joyrider” and check out his other films at www.sebastientobler.com.