Alex Garland Interview: ‘Devs’ creator
According to Oscar nominee Alex Garland (“Ex Machina”), his FX psychological sci-fi drama “Devs” might ultimately be “about love,” he reveals. “What it is that matters to us, whether we have free will or not. Who do we love? Why do we love them? Do we stop loving them?” Watch our exclusive video interview with Garland above.
“Devs” is the writer and director’s first foray into series television after his acclaimed sci-fi dramas “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation.” It follows a young software engineer (Sonoya Mizuno) who investigates the secretive development division of the Amaya corporation, a cutting-edge Silicon Valley tech company where she works, which she believes is behind the murder of her boyfriend Sergei (Karl Glusman). Amaya and its secretive ‘Devs’ division is run by mysterious CEO Forest (Nick Offerman) and his ambiguous offsider Katie (Alison Pill), both of who we learn have developed a machine that can see literally backwards and forwards in time.
Garland suggests that every project is a complete collaboration rather than solely adhering to his vision. He does not buy into the auteur theory, which suggests that a film or series relies on the singular vision of its director or showrunner, featuring recurring elements that are unmistakably attributed to that auteur’s unique style and aesthetic.
Instead he is a collaborator, marshaling an army of artisans over the years that return to the fold to collectively bring a particular story and world to life. Over his last few projects, Garland’s team has included visual effects supervisor Andrew Whitehurst (who won an Oscar for Garland’s “Ex Machina”), director of photography Rob Hardy, musicians Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow collaborating with The Insects (otherwise known as Tim Norfolk and Bob Locke) and production designer Mark Digby, to name just a few.
“As soon as I started working in film, the whole concept of auteurship seemed ridiculous to me,” Garland explains, noting the difference to when he was started out as a novelist,which is a more solitary artistic endeavor (he wrote the “The Beach” in 1996, which went on to be adapted by director Danny Boyle and writer John Hodge in the 2000 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio). “I knew what auteurship was; it was sitting on your own in a room and this is not. It’s working with a very large group of people, all of whom are adding to the thing, elevating it, mutating it in interesting ways.”
A recurring trend on Garland’s recent work is the ambiguity of the narrative, particularly how each project ends leaving audiences guessing. It is testament to his insistence that art remains open to interpretation. “Art is only subjective. It doesn’t have any choice but to be subjective,” he explains. “In fact, it’s everything. One of the biggest problems we have at the moment is to do with different groups of people not being able to conceptualize other different groups of people’s point of view.”