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Jake Paltrow directed the genre-bending independent drama Young Ones, which stars Kodi Smit-Phee as a son who looks to his father for guidance as they try to survive on the arid plains in a post-apocalyptic America.

Jake Paltrow, Kodi Smit-Phee On ‘Young Ones’

Young Ones, which stars Michael Shannon as the drunk-turned-teetotaler father, explores family dynamics, the effects of widespread draught and the potential of technology. The central story arc of Young Ones is that Shannon’s character believes that if he can convince drillers – with whom his built relationships with transporting supplies with a donkey and then a robot – to direct water towards his farm, his dried out farm will become fertile and his family will prosper.

“I just like to describe it as a futuristic Western,” Paltrow told uInterview.

“First and foremost I wanted to tell this sort of love story between the father and son. There’s a lot of my father In the Mike Shannon character and we were very close and he died when he was young,” the director elaborated. “I’m not very interested in writing about literal interpretation of our friendship or anything, but I liked the idea of putting it into this genre piece. […] Then there were lot of other interests – the global drought issues and certain things in robotics – and they all came together to form this story.”

Check Out uInterview’s ‘Young Ones’ Review HERE

For the robotics part of the story, Paltrow wanted to create something that viewers could really invest in as another character, and that the actors would easily be able to work with. “It’s half puppets and it’s half CGI,” Paltrow explained. “So we had the torso of the robot built and there were two performers under it and then we digitally removed them and we animated the legs. We just wanted to try to have the center point perspective of the movie be a real thing, that Kodi or Michael or the other actors could put their hands on or put something in.”

Smit-McPhee chimed in, “It was kind a of huge help and I think that’s also what made it extremely realistic watching it onscreen; you can’t really tell what’s visual effects and what’s real.”

The world in which Young Ones takes place in is harsh and overrun with depraved behavior. To exist within it – particularly while keeping one’s moral compass in tact – would be a difficult task. Both Paltrow and Smit-McPhee hope they’d fare reasonably well in the environment, though they admit they can’t know for sure.

“I’d like to think I’d figure it out, but I wouldn’t guarantee it,” said Paltrow.

McPhee noted, “It’s more surviving,” adding, “I would hope to do good, but I’m not sure how I’d do.”

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Q: How would you describe ‘Young Ones’ as a film? -

Jake Paltrow: I just like to describe it as a futuristic Western. I mean, I see it as a Western sort of in general. Mike Shannon plays a father in a future version of the American West in a catastrophic drought doing everything he can to help his family survive, while he tries to convince these men who are drilling water wells above his farm to bring water back to his farm, which is fertile but dry. Kodi Smit-McPhee: That pretty much sums it up, but I would also say, out of that, from an audience point of view it’s a very unique story and something that’s extremely enjoyable.

Q: How would you fare in the world ‘Young Ones’ takes place in? -

Paltrow: I’d like to think I’d figure it out, but I wouldn’t guarantee it. McPhee: Yeah, definitely. It’s extremely interesting because the world that they are forced into has almost degenerated them and taken them back into this Western civilization. They are not so much simply living through a controlled, categorized way of living. It's more surviving. I would hope to do good, but I'm not sure how I’d do.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the film? -

Paltrow: First and foremost, I wanted to tell this sort of love story between the father and son. There’s a lot of my father in the Mike Shannon character, and we were very close and he died when I was young. I hadn’t written anything about it. I’m not very interested in writing about a literal interpretation of our friendship or anything, but I liked the idea of putting it into this genre piece. So, that is sort of where it started. Then there were a lot of other interests – the global drought issues and certain things in robotics – and they all came together to form this story.

Q: What’s the technology that goes into creating the movie’s robots? -

Paltrow: It’s half puppets and it’s half CGI. So we had the torso of the robot built and there were two performers under it and then we digitally removed them and we animated the legs. We just wanted to try to have the center point perspective of the movie be a real thing, that Kodi or Michael or the other actors could put their hands on or put something in. It would be the parts that you are not necessarily looking at directly with your eyes, sort of below what you’re looking at, that would in fact be the visual effects. I think that’s a very real quality. McPhee: It was kind a of huge help and I think that’s also what made it extremely realistic watching it onscreen; you can't really tell what’s visual effects and what’s real.