Director Zal Batmanglij Talks SOUND OF MY VOICE, THE EAST, His Writing Process, Favorite Movies, More

     April 25, 2012


One of my favorite films from last year’s Sundance was Sound of My Voice (which opens this weekend in limited release). Directed and co-written by Zal Batmanglij, the film follows a documentary filmmaking team made up of Christopher Denham and his girlfriend (Nicole Vicius) as they investigate a cult lead by a supposed time-traveler (Brit Marling who also co-wrote the film).  While they start the investigation intent on exposing her and freeing the followers, as they get further inside, they start to question their objectives.  For more on the film, you can watch the first twelve minutes here.

During the recent Los Angeles press day for the film, I sat down with Zal Batmanglij for an extended interview.  We talked about what it’s been like waiting for the film to get released, financing the project, digital filmmaking, his writing process, if he’ll make a sequel, and more.  In addition, Batmanglij recently finished shooting his next film The East which stars Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page and Brit Marling. He talked about what that film is about, when it might premiere, and more.  Hit the jump to watch and make sure to check out Sound of My Voice this weekend!

sound-of-my-voice-zal-batmanglij-movie-image-set-photoZal Batmanglij Time Index

  • In between the Sundance 2011 premiere of Sound of My Voice and now, Batmanglij has been working on The East.
  • 1:10 – Talks about how he and Marling developed the movie.  They finished the script in 2009 but had trouble with financing before deciding to make it with whatever money they could scrape up.
  • 3:30 – Used the 7D camera on the recommendation of Like Crazy director Drake Doremus
  • 4:40 – Laying out the ideal plan for financing a movie through Kickstarter.
  • 5:30 – Says he’d “love to make big action movies.”  But he’d rather make whatever movie he can than wait for financing.
  • 7:30 – They spent a lot of time on the script to build a very precise structure.  Not much is on the cutting room floor.
  • 8:30 – The movie works as a standalone film, but Batmanglij says he would be interested in revisiting the world in a sequel or a TV series.
  • 9:30 – The East is about anarchists, so he thought they would make it guerilla like Sound of My Voice, but Fox Searchlight wanted to acquire it.
  • 10:50 – He’s working on editing The East right now.  Praises his stars Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page.
  • 12:20 – Calls The East a “sprawling, ambitious film with so many different genres mixing together.”  They are finding the tone in filming and editing.
  • 13:20 – Speculation about whether The East might premiere at Sundance or Toronto.
  • 14:30 – Lists The Conformist, Terminator, and Terminator 2 as favorite films along with many other favorites.
  • 17:00 – Talk about the great things that are happening on TV.


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