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Hugh Sullivan: The Infinite Man


After establishing himself with a handful of well-received short films, Australian filmmaker Hugh Sullivan makes his feature debut with the melancholy sci-fi romantic comedy, The Infinite Man.

Rather than a sprawling, spectacular science fiction popcorner, The Infinite Man operates on a very intimate scale. The film centres on Dean (Josh McConville) who wants nothing more than to spend the perfect romantic weekend with his girlfriend, Lana (Hannah Marshall) – and his access to time travel technology means he can go back and try to fix any mistakes or remove any impediments to happiness. As the paradoxes stack up and quantum doppelgangers begin to multiply, it soon becomes apparent that Dean is his own worst enemy – quite literally.

“I had a desire to make a time travel film, “ Sullivan explains. “Time travel is something I’ve always enjoyed, and something I wanted to try my hand at. But I also wanted to look at a relationship as experienced by an insecure and ruminative mind. Dean is someone who has a very difficult relationship with the past and with himself, and time travel allowed me to approach these ideas quite explicitly.”

Working on a tight budget meant that Sullivan had to discipline himself with the minimal narrative elements he allowed himself – three characters (Dean, Lana and Lana’s ex-boyfriend, Terry, played by Alex Dimitriades) and one location, an abandoned motel. “I’m sure there were moments were I was tempted to introduce more characters and locations,” Sullivan muses. “It certainly would have made the development process a little easier. But then it would have made production more difficult.

“I think placing certain constraints on myself necessitated a good deal of creative problem solving, and perhaps took the project in a more interesting and unexpected direction than may otherwise have been the case.”

Although spatially constrained, The Infinite Man deals with big ideas and big emotions – not to mention a time travel conceit that gets more convoluted and confusing as the film progresses. “In many ways I wanted to embrace these complexities. Dean’s mind is a confused and confusing space – it’s unnecessarily complicated. I wanted the film to reflect this psychic turmoil. I wanted it, structurally, to feel like a mind turning in on itself, circling back to some unresolved past. It’s rumination, really; it’s a mental process. Time travel just makes it all more physical, and hopefully a little more fun.”

Fun though it may be, the film’s structure meant that the writing process has a challenging and at times tedious one. “ I’m not sure exactly how many drafts were written, but it was certainly quite a few. Due to the nature of the project, even the smallest change to a scene would reverberate throughout the entire script, and necessitate many more changes. Repeatedly. Perhaps it is appropriate that a film about repetition and revision be written in such a way, but it wasn’t really something I appreciated at the time.”



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