Life Begins at Rewirement is set in the near-future, a film that follows a son as he puts his elderly mother into a nursing home, only this home isn't what we know as a retirement home today. Gateway, as it's called, combats the overpopulation of seniors in a world that has made living longer easier than ever by transferring a loved one's consciousness into a program that allows their physical body to cease, but their minds to live on—making memories last (beyond) a lifetime, the film's tagline.
Matcek is a sci-fi guy, with visual-effects previsualization credits on The Avengers and Men in Black 3, and another sci-fi short film You, Me and We, about human cloning. "My interests are more suburban sci-fi," explains Matcek, "like how your Aunt Donna is going to deal with technology's advances, not some star fighter in a galaxy far, far away. There's also a retro-future bend to my work, incorporating a lot of elements from my childhood, like how the future is seen from the late 1980s and early '90s."
Cinematographer Jaron Presant came onto the project fairly early, seeing both the first and second drafts of Matcek's script. Matcek wanted to try and do everything in-camera on the ARRI ALEXA, leaving the visual effects to a minimum, but from a practical standpoint, Presant was the one to bring his director back down to earth.
"We didn't have an unlimited budget nor unlimited time," says Presant. "An [Tran, the producer] made the resources go as far as possible, and Trevin made the creative go as far as possible. So in order to make the visuals go as far as possible, the smartest approach was a mix of in-camera and post effects."
One of the places the team felt they really benefited from using the limitations to their advantage was the downloading scene, where the mother is "put into the system." Offers Matcek, "Originally, I had the idea of it taking place inside a computer machine room, but we weren't having any luck finding that location. ARRI, who was a huge supporter of this film, owns Illumination Dynamics, which has a demo room. This room is set up to show what they can do with their event and theatrical lighting with all these programmable smart lights. So we built the scene in that room, giving it a surreal technological vibe."