Behind the scenes: Breaking the Bond

We’re going behind the scenes of Breaking the Bond, the film that won both the People’s Choice prize and the judges’ Runner Up spot in Quantum Shorts 2014. The film tells the story of a man addicted to teleportation and time travel achieved – in the filmmaker’s imagination, at least – through use of the new wonder-molecule graphene. The judges that year described the film as "funny, with imaginative twists and quantum leaps" with an "impressive mix of live-action and graphics" and editing that is "clever and captivating." We interview the filmmaker Adam Welch to find out more. 
 
 
Tell us about the team behind Breaking the Bond. Who are you all?
 
We had a great group of talented folks who helped out on this film. The script was written by me, my old film school buddy Sean Kelly (who also plays the lead), and another friend of mine, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tom Jackman.
 
Joe O’Brien, who shot the film, is an accomplished writer/director who’s been doing this stuff for a long time. My wife, Leslie (a published author), played the female lead and offered invaluable insight into the characters through her onscreen performance and script/dialogue suggestions. The elusive Rocco Benzini provided sound recording services. Lucas Craig and Joe’s son Connor provided production assistance.
 
Leigh Cooper (former coworker, great friend, and Renaissance Woman) edited the film and was responsible for media management and much of the sound design.
 
A musician friend of mine, Ben Licciardi of the band Roofwalkers, created the moody, atmospheric score for the film. Another film school buddy of mine, Jeremy Fernsler, created the graphene and teleportation effects. He lives a few hours away from me, so we collaborated remotely by sending shots and effects via Dropbox. My mom, Christine, was in charge of keeping everybody fed.
 
What inspired you to make a film around the theme of quantum physics?
 
The strange and sometimes mind-bending world of quantum physics is teeming with potential stories. The study of the very large and the study of the very small fascinate me. I like the idea of exploring the limits of things, and then pushing even further. Things start to get really weird the more you drill down!
 
How did you settle on graphene as central to your story? What else informed your storyline? 
 
I’ve followed graphene in the news for a few years. It seems like every few months someone discovers another unbelievable trait of the stuff. When I started to write the script, I re-read the articles I’d saved about graphene and scoured the Internet for more.
 
Graphene tickles me. Especially the story about how it was first created – by sticking a piece of Scotch tape on the tip of a pencil and peeling it off to create a one-atom-thick layer of graphite? I don’t know if it’s really true, but it’s the story I’ve heard. (QS notes: the story is true! Read this account in Scientific American co-authored by Andre Geim, one of graphene's co-discoverers.)  
 
It seemed like such a mundane way to create a substance with such amazing properties. So I thought, “What else might graphene be capable of?” Of course… time travel!
 
The larger theme of this story is the idea that we dream of some amazing future, or look back wistfully to better times in the past. But, in reality, THESE are the days! I’ve caught myself not appreciating what is right in front of me, instead looking forward or backward. We’ve gotta live in the moment — it’s the only time and place we can live!
 
Can you describe the process of making the film?
 
Whew. We had a very aggressive schedule, so overall we finished this thing in under three days. We shot the film in one day – that was a long and stressful 16-18 hours! Editing took another day and a half. Exhausting, but rewarding!
 
Here are the team's outtakes...
 
 
Did winning a prize in Quantum Shorts have an impact for you? 
 
Any time your work is recognized, it’s a great feeling. Winning prizes in the Quantum Shorts competition was especially meaningful, because my work was reviewed and judged not only by media professionals, but by scientists, as well. I’m no physicist, I’m just a lowly filmmaker, so knowing that my piece would be judged by people who actually know what they’re talking about when it comes to quantum physics? That was a little intimidating! So, yeah… winning a prize meant a lot to me.
 
Do you have any other works you would like to share with the Quantum Shorts audience? 
 
I just finished my most recent project! It’s a trailer for my wife Leslie’s first published book, The Goodbyes. If you’ve got a spare 90 seconds, take a look!  Ben Licciardi, who did the music for Breaking the Bond, also did the music for my wife's book trailer with TJ Lipple. 
 
Do you have any favourite movies with a physics influence? What are they and why do you like them? 
 
One of my favourite movies is the sci-fi thriller Sunshine. The main character, played by Cillian Murphy, is a physicist whose job it is to monitor and deploy a nuclear bomb intended to reignite the dying sun. I also love Darren Aronofsky’s directorial debut, π, about a mathematician who’s obsessed with using number theory to explain and predict the machinations of the stock market.