Some Quality Time with Time Before Time Director Ryan Rambach

Spiritual Cinema Circle

We spoke with Ryan Rambach, the writer/director of Time Before Time, one of the short films on our February DVD.

What was the inspiration behind the story of Time Before Time? What is your take on the time paradox that the film presents?

I wanted to make a short film that both paid homage to classic time travel tales but also presented a unique and fresh approach to the genre. Specifically, I am fascinated with the concept of multiple timelines that may or may not exist in our universe and their possible effects on our daily lives and human interactions. Beyond the theoretical, paradoxical implications of time travel, I wanted to create a pair of impassioned characters whose motivations were driven by an insatiable desire to change the past, and in doing so stand to complicate or perpetuate the source of their inciting trauma.

While Time Before Time explores the concept of multiple timelines and the cross-interactions of characters within those timelines, the film seeks to ultimately defy as well as expand on the time travel genre by advancing a more thoughtful and complex conclusion to its story – one that considers the many possible cyclical and paradoxical implications of moving through time. Namely the attempt to correct the past further perpetuates the wound of trauma at the heart of that instinct, twisting the traditional psychic causality of the fiction film into a metaphysical Möbius strip.

In essence, I wanted to challenge myself by writing a story that intellectually stimulated and engaged the audience, getting them to think about larger questions related to nostalgic memory and temporal existence. At its core, Time Before Time is a love story about two people who will stop at nothing to change their fate, and the film is ultimately a testament to the power, strength, and fallibility of human emotion.

Tell us about the production process.

Time Before Time is a student film that was made for an advanced film production class at Occidental College in Los Angeles. The production turnaround was very quick, and the entire film was scripted, cast, shot, and edited in roughly six weeks. The film was later re-scored with original music and had an extensive sound design that was completed over an additional eight weeks.

What are some of the films that have inspired you?

I have been inspired by several independent science fiction films of past decade, most notably Shane Carruth’s Primer that was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and Mike Cahill's Another Earth that won the same award in 2011. Both films, despite being in the genre of science fiction, focus on strong narrative and character development over visual spectacle. Similarly, I am interested in making films that demonstrate intellectual rigor and are grounded in a strong conceptual basis.

What projects are you working on now?

I recently completed a short documentary film entitled Scout's Oath, about Len Lanzi, a former Boy Scouts of America scout executive who was fired after coming out as gay in a public speech. The film will be entering the festival circuit soon, and my hope is that audiences will be able to walk away thinking about issues related to social equality, gay rights in America, and the profound impact the Boy Scouts have had on young people in this country as well as the formulation of national perceptions regarding sexuality, identity, and notions of normalcy in American society.

I am also in the process of developing Time Before Time into a feature film project and have begun working with several writers to create a long form story based on the short film. We are seeking funding to produce the film and would welcome interested financial partners.

View Ryan's work on Vimeo