Chance Muehleck

Drone cameras provide some stunning shots for the film, is this technology changing how you shoot your films?

It is. I think camera moves have a cumulative effect on the viewer, like any basic element of film. Drones allow me to do things that were totally cost-prohibitive not so long ago. And some models even allow you to swap out lenses, which is a huge development. So I’m a fan. Of course, these things are just tools and if you lose sight of your core ingredients (theme, story, character, etc.), you slide down a rabbit hole.

The film tackles some massive scientific theories in a short amount of time. What is most exciting about the challenge of an ambitious plot?

Keeping all the balls in the air! I started with a simple visual—someone finding a dead body in a forest who looks exactly like him. From there it grew into a pretty dense narrative. I love world-building, and with Beacon I wanted to experiment with how the past can impact the present and, by extension, the future. It’s always tricky to layer in history even as you move the action forward. But this is where the stakes get raised, and where we might make a connection with the characters’ dilemmas.

Was your films heavy ending inspired by any film or influence in particular?

That choice was mostly about wanting to find a satisfying resolution while leaving some questions on the table. There’s a lot going on in the film, but ultimately it tapers down to these two people: A “mother” and her most successful “offspring.” The anxiety of influence runs deep with me, and in this case I’d have to point to the postwar noirs. Unachievably great face-offs.

How did you find your lead actor, who was perfect, in this role?

Right? Brandon is the bee’s pajamas. He auditioned for my last short, and though I couldn’t cast him in that he stayed very much in my mind. We called him in for Beacon, and he blew us away. He’s so specific but also a wonderful collaborator. He keeps an eye on the whole production while never losing sight of his place in everything. And I think that’s especially important when you’re toggling between two roles. There’s nowhere to hide.