Interview - Cosmic Sin – Let’s talk with Edward Drake

By Mulder, Zoom Event, 04 march 2021

Cosmic Sin is a visually brilliant movie from writer/director Edward Drake (Apex, Broil) and co-writer/producer Corey Large (It Follows, The November Man, Breach). Starring Bruce Willis, the film opens several hundred years into the future, when man has colonized distant planets. An alien encounter gone awry motivates a group of rogue soldiers to take matters into their own hands. They teleport to a planet more than 13,000 light years away, essentially invading, to launch a pre-emptive strike. Among their ranks is a dissenting voice who calls into question their actions, suggesting it breaks the law be committing Cosmic Sin—the destruction of an entire civilization. The exemption for this sin is the greater good of saving humanity.

Though set in a futuristic world, with robot bartenders and the backdrop of space travel, Cosmic Sin follows a classic horror narrative. Rather than depicting the aliens as the enemy, it explores another perspective; perhaps man is the monster, the invader, the seeker of war.

Cosmic Sin is the second feature film from award-winning Australian/British director Edward Drake. Utilizing the visual medium to its fullest, Edward has masterfully created alternative worlds in this thought provoking film.

Q : Edward, do you mind talking again about the movie that you're filming in Georgia right now just so I have it ?

Edward Drake : oh absolutely. I'm super grateful, very lucky to be filming with Devon Sawa, Luke Wilson and Bruce and it's on this—so, it's very close to my heart called Gasoline Alley which looks at sex trafficking in Los Angeles and the ways that, you know, the heroes that are supposed to be entrusted with protecting us often get corrupted along the way. I mean Devon Sawa is a powerhouse phenomenal actor and working with him has given me such a second wind, and I’m just so grateful for the entire whole cast and crew. This is a very special project.

Q : Did you also write this ?

Edward Drake : no, it was written by Tom Sierchio and then I came on to do a little polish just before production and—but Tom is a brilliant writer, and I'm so grateful that you know they've trusted me with his vision and his story.

Q : that's really beautiful—I was enjoying, I was looking over your imdb, and I see you've risen quickly really as a filmmaker. I noticed, you know, it was a handful of years ago you were supporting those who were doing what you're now doing; I don't know if you want to talk a little bit about that.

Edward Drake : yeah, no one is more surprised by how the course of events than me, so I am very grateful for the opportunities. I mean I was—it doesn't feel quick—it feels like the culmination of a lot of hard work paying off and hopefully audiences have a good time with the stories that we're looking to tell, and that's my main thing; it's just making sure that the performances like are on track because if the characters don't feel real, then everything else is just spectacle and so that's my number one thing. So I’m very grateful for all of the opportunities that have come my way in the past 18 months, and I’m very excited for what for what's to come as well. 2021 is going to be hell of a year.

Q : I can see you you've just gained so much momentum with because you're now working on your third Bruce Willis movie. What was it like to you know going and working with him a second time on Cosmic Sin was this character designed for him since you had worked with him prior ?

Edward Drake : absolutely, yeah, I wrote it for Bruce and I think we were able to tap into this gruffness and this very severe energy that he can bring of being the guy that gets the job done, and he was very passionate about Cosmic Sin because he loves sci-fi. Bruce is actually a massive nerd. I don't think many people really talk about this but he's like absolutely brilliant and so well read, and like I was trying to like, talk to him about some of the influences for Cosmic Sin but do it in like an abstract way just in case he hadn’t seen some of these things, and it's like—I watch everything, just hit me with everything. So yeah that's awesome.

Q: I didn't know that about him.

Edward Drake : yeah, very smart guy

Q : I have a question about the visuals so one of the things that really stood out to me pretty immediately and i realized was consistent was the use of darkness and night accented with this beautiful pop of colors and it reminded me of like a like a video game or a comic book, and I wonder were there influences like that?

Edward Drake : oh absolutely. Yeah, I think one of the saddest trends in a lot of sci-fi is to go too desaturated and dark in color, but I structured this film as a horror, and if you break down how the narrative works it's a horror movie strategy..

Q : well you were saying so it was something you were very conscious of that you wanted in terms of the colors …

Edward Drake: and yeah making sure it felt vibrant because i think so much of what we grew up on. I'm 30 and I just remember like being a kid watching movies that had color and vibrancy, and it just draws you in and it's such a new world and i miss that because it's just this beautiful way to you know, I don't know, that's what movies are for.
So I worked with the cinematographer Brandon Cox a lot to create a visual look. I ride the camera department harder than any other camera or any other department, and so I was able to really get into the skin and create a new look for each of these films ,so I’m very grateful.

Q : I really enjoyed it. I also noticed so there was one moment where we basically get daybreak and its on Elloria and there's also nature—the trees—and I felt i realized i was like wow this is the only moment in the film really when we have those two elements i wonder if you could talk a little bit about that.

Edward Drake : yeah, showing the natural side of the way that a civilization goes into a, you know, a foreign land and then proceeds to take it over was also playing into the themes of like civilizations dominating other civilizations, and whether it be going into you know the Spanish coming into the Incan territory and that sort of stuff that was just a little way of being able to—you know at that point in the story all you've seen is this man-made world and you you've heard about this threat, but we haven't identified the threat just yet, and so it was a really important way to just bring to life that world that brings

Q: that takes me to another question I had which is who do you see as the main enemy ?

Edward Drake : Humans. the humans are the bad guys of the story and i think that's what is annoying a lot of audiences because they're used to being spoon-fed like this is the big shiny hero and he's going to save the day but there's none of no right from the outset we wanted to look at the idea of what the point of view would look like from the humans being able to launch a preemptive strike and i have to choose my words carefully here because a lot of—you know a lot of the film is structured around the timeline and the course of events and so when you break it down, humans fire the first shot. Humans are the ones that decide to launch an attack first; when there's an opportunity for peace talks another soldier kicks things off and starts another conflict, and so we see this you know this kind of thing brought you know going back and forth in our in our own world today so hopefully it speaks to—hopefully that helps people understand that point of view on perspective is critical to understanding these stories .

Q : It was interesting because there was talk of someone being a parasite and I asked myself which side is the parasite.

Edward Drake : absolutely, yeah what's the virus? I mean there's a great there's great paper about grain and how grain is incredibly addictive because when you look at how it changed the what the fabric of society turning us into a farming culture from a nomadic society and pushing that forward—but what if you apply that to other civilization? What if you apply that to this whole idea that we are just seeking to like plant ourselves on the world and move on and move on and that sort of thing? So that was, yeah that's a really good observation about the parasites.

Q : Thank you. It kind of covers one of my other questions which was about—but you could still maybe talk a little more about the moment in the cave which seemed very like metaphysical and like an opportunity for the two leaders to talk to one another.

Edward Drake : yeah and that was always supposed to be this idea that your hero has entered in a fragmented mental state; he has a concussion and so what is he saying and what we were attempting to show? and it was a, you know, we shot a lot more that unfortunately didn't make the final cut—was this idea of them creating a safe space where it can be as though he's talking to a loved one, someone that he deeply cares about but then that moment is ruined, and then the moment is snatched away, and that and it's those defining turning points in two civilizations trying to learn how to speak with each other learn how to you know open some means of communication that are ultimately going to change the way that and dictate the course of events going forward

Q : you know another, you talked about how there were certain moments in the cave that you wanted to be able to include that you just couldn't. I’m interested what aspects of the world building were the most interesting or rewarding and what parts of the world building were you not able to get to that you wanted to ?

Edward Drake : All of the thought process that went into looking at what humanity looked like, you know, this far down the line in the future, I applied all of that thinking to what does the alien civilization look like? What is their music? What are their, you know, are they a kingdom or a republic? Are they zealots? What do they want? What are their needs as a society? And I was able to create a mirror to what a lot of the characters strive for in on the humans versus aliens, so you have the blood general who just wants to fight. He longs for war, and he's faced with this culture that is primarily built around the domination of other cultures. And so there's a part of him that can completely empathize with these aliens. And then on the flip side you have the aliens themselves that you know if things had gone differently, would they have launched the preemptive strike?

Q : right, because there was talk at one point where the alien leader says basically we are a culture of war, right?that she was speaking of themselves so then that's a great question would they have ?

Edward Drake: well that's exactly right and but is she speaking from the point of view of the human inside of her or from the alien?

Q: Right, because there's that fusion.

Edward Drake: so she’s a hybrid of thought.

Q : Very interesting. Now what about—you know you use a lot of really interesting technology like the robot in the bar. Oh, do you want to talk about that ?

Edward Drake :My favorite character, oh my God, Bobby the robot, yeah, Bobby the bartender. They do you have no idea production was like hey you don't need a robot bartender—just makes it a human and I’m like no, absolutely not. Bobby is staying in the script; do not even question it. So i put my foot [down] the one fight that I died on the hill for was making sure we had a robot bartender. I used to work bar; I grew up in hotels and around the bar scene, and I always wanted to be a robot bartender

Q : well I’m happy that the robot bartender made it. I enjoyed the character and I also thought it made it so cool because here you've got—here we are hundreds of years into the future—we’ve got Harley Davidsons, right? And we've got robot bartenders—it was a very…

Edward Drake : this is the thing that I think with a lot of presentations of the future, there needs to be a handoff; because you have to take ,you know, remember anything that any advancement is really just stepping on the shoulders of what came before, but what came before doesn't immediately disappear unless it's a zoom so you know there's little different ways that we can take, you know, these classic images I mean like the Mustang is the coolest car of all time. I hope to god in a hundred years it's still present in the popular culture, and that was just the same thing with the bike. You know the bikes, you know that kind of cool is undeniable, and I think that they're going to live on beyond us.

Q : and the jukebox also was a bit of a even a throwback

Edward Drake : but then we had the holographic interface and that was a play by a great guy called Frank Cronin. He is one of like, Frank is a superstar in Ireland—he’s one of Ireland's best comedians; he's amazing, he's such a great human being—I love the dude, and I called him; I was like dude do you want to play like five different characters that like get cycled through on the stage? and it was like—absolutely, when do you need me? But and that's just stepping on the shoulders of what came before, you know, instead of live music we have this like you could you could have hit another button and programmed in Nirvana; you could have had the Foo Fighters, you could have had the Killers.

Q : I really loved that. Also because you were dealing with these pieces of technology, I just wonder were there some funny fails, things that went wrong, that everybody had a great laugh about ?

Edward Drake : yeah, the teleporter sequence was supposed to be a lot more involved, and the thing—so it's a fiber optic cable. What we ended up using was a fiber optic cable thing, but we literally found that lying in the back of the factory that we were filming in, because the teleporter that we had structurally wasn't sound and I was just like let's go with this seat. Everyone was like okay thank you Ed for not putting the actors in danger. This whole thing with lights and like you know it was going to be a Tesla coil and all this other stuff, and they're like Ed this could blow up, and i was like I know right? But at least we'll be filming it, and then they were like no. i know I was like okay you win that one. I’ll keep the robot bartender, you get the new teleporter, that’s it.

Q : oh very good. Edward, I really enjoyed talking to you.

Edward Drake : thank you Nicole

Q : and I loved getting some of my questions answered. I had a lot of questions. it was a great movie, it leaves you thinking.

Edward Drake : thank you that's amazing. You made my day, that's awesome.

Synopsis :
Seven rogue soldiers launch a preemptive strike against a newly discovered alien civilization in the hopes of ending an interstellar war before it starts. After a mining crew on a far-off planet makes a disastrous first contact with an alien civilization, General Eron Ryle (Frank Grillo) and the leaders of Earth’s Alliance of Governments debate if there can be peace between “us and them”. Notorious war-hero Gen. James Ford (Bruce Willis) is called upon to lead a squad of elite soldiers to an alien-infested Alliance Colony, Ellora, and find the coordinates of the invaders’ home world in the hopes of launching a preemptive strike to end a war before it can begin. Along with ethnologist Dr. Lea Goss (Perrey Reeves), bull-headed Specialist Braxton Ryle (Brandon Thomas Lee), demolition expert Dash Wick (Corey Large), and quantum engineer Lt. Fiona Ardene (Adelaide Kane), Ford’s mission goes awry and the squad is forced to reckon with the idea that they could be colonized by the invading army.

Cosmic Sin
Directed by Edward Drake
Produced by Corey Large
Written by Edward Drake, Corey Large
Starring Bruce Willis, Frank Grillo, Luke Wilson, Adelaide Kane, C.J. Perry, Lochlyn Munro, Brandon Thomas Lee
Music by Scott Glasgow
Cinematography : Brandon Cox
Edited by Justin Williams
Distributed by Saban Films, Paramount Pictures
Release date : March 12, 2021 (USA)
Running time : 88 minutes

We would like to thank Edward Drake for answered to our questions

(Source : press release)