Move over, Star Wars – this spring, Eric Hayes ’18 is bringing some sci-fi movie magic of his own to Princeton.
Hayes released a trailer for his film The Observer Effect a few days ago on Facebook.
The 35 minute-long movie follows a Princeton student who heads into senior year with his sights set on a finance career path that doesn’t interest him.
When he loses motivation and his grades drop, he’s offered the opportunity to work in a mysterious lab with a former professor for extra credit. There, he gets mixed up in a dangerous time travel experiment that forces him and the professor to confront the realities of their situations.
“Time travel may just be fantasy but a lot of the inspiration came from real ideas in physics [and] their philosophical implications,” Hayes explains.
Hayes, who is from Calgary, is majoring in physics and pursuing a certificate in screenwriting.
The central scientific concept and namesake of the film is the observer effect, which refers to the fact that observation of a phenomenon changes its original state.
Time travel also raises questions about the fundamental nature of the universe, Hayes says – do we have free will, or is the universe a determined set of events set in motion long ago? Is there any real variability in the universe?
“I wanted to explore these ideas in an entertaining time travel-esque story, with familiar characters and settings,” Hayes says.
He describes the process of creating The Observer Effect as “rewarding but also very challenging” – he researched the concept and developed the script over the summer, and in September applied for and received funding from the Physics Department and Council on Science and Technology, among other groups.
The film was shot on campus over two months with the help of a cast and crew of Princeton students (and one faculty member).[caption id="attachment_17725" align="aligncenter" width="744"] Cast photo (Kathleen Ma)[/caption]
“Finding time for assignments and class was tough,” Hayes says – the first three days of shooting took place during midterms week.
He plans to premiere the film on campus and possibly in the Garden Theatre this spring as well as submit it to several film festivals and events for consideration.
Hayes is no stranger to filmmaking – he started making animated films and stop-motion films around ten years ago.
“When I discovered what it felt like to show something you’d produced to an audience I was hooked,” he says.
Before his senior year of high school he also started a business producing media, such as advertisements and music videos, for companies and arts groups.
However, his main passion remains telling stories and making films for the big screens. According to his photography and film Facebook page, Hayes’ short films and animated movies have been shown in 20 film festivals around the world.
Hayes says that filmmaking is “one of the most collaborative and immersive forms of storytelling and, in my opinion, the most powerful way to explore ideas, big or small.”[caption id="attachment_17726" align="aligncenter" width="433"] Hayes on set (Kathleen Ma)[/caption]