Back in Time is the story of the movie that changed science fiction. An official selection from more than five film festivals (including The Big Apple Film Festival and Fantastik) Back in Time already looks to be a crucial addition to the Back to the Future pop culture pantheon. It’s surprising that in 30 years of history, there has yet to be a documentary about the film series that changed science fiction. Thankfully, the Back in Time crew was more than happy to take the challenge.
Word of the Nerd was lucky enough to sit down with the three major players of the film: Director Jason Aron, Executive Producer Louis Krubich, and Producer Lee Leshen. Before Back in Time is released worldwide on October 21st, get a look behind the scenes of a film that takes you… well, behind the scenes.
The idea for the film came to Aron in 2012, when he was working on a film with a prop Delorean. “The day we were filming, I noticed that people were literally get out of their cars in the middle of the street and taking pictures of it,” he recalls. “I’d always loved Back to the Future. And just to see that this wasn’t my own obsession and that people loved this film, that was it for me. I knew that day that I should make a documentary about Back to the Future.”
From there, Aron brought Krubich on board. The two have been coworkers and friends for years, and Krubich was interested in this project from the get-go. This is their first full-length feature film together.
In 2012, Krubich had just launched Malka Media Group, a digital content studio. Their work can be found at their website, here. Krubich recalls waiting for the next big project, and funnily enough, receiving the phonecall from Aron at 1AM. “Let’s go to the community,” Krubich said, when he discussed the decision to Crowdfund the film. “See if this is something they want us to make or if it’s something that the community would support.”
Leshen came onto the film a bit further into production. “I found these guys online . . . I was looking for a documentary, I was really into documentaries. One of my favorite movies is Back to the Future, and I said ‘You know what? I would really love to watch a fan documentary. There’s so many out there, I wonder if anyone’s done something for this. And nobody had! So I found their Kickstarter . . . we started talking around then, and ultimately got together around then.”
Leshen was working with his own group, Patchwork Media, in brand partnerships, but wanted to get back into production. “First of all,” Leshen said. “The trailer that was on that first Kickstarter is beautiful. It’s beautiful. And I fell in love with it instantly and I said, ‘These guys get it. They know what they’re doing, they know how to put a story together.’ Anyone can just shoot footage and put it in there. You’ve got to know how to tell a story.”
And that seems to be the heart of Back in Time: a story not just about the making of the movie but of the influence it had on its fans. Said influence was clear with the Back in Time production team, but what came as a surprise was the eagerness of the Back to the Future cast and crew, most, if not all of whom were more than willing to participate in interviews for the documentary.
“I think that’s what surprised us the most,” Aron said. “That everyone was so super nice . . . for [Michael J. Fox] to give us the amount of time he gave us in his busy schedule, he doesn’t have to do this.”
“Exactly,” Krubich continued. “You know, I’m sure everyone understands it’s not comfortable to sit down and do an interview for that amount of time, he did it because he’s a truly inspiring and amazing man. And the fans are so grateful that he did take that time to do that. And we’re very appreciative.”
“It should absolutely be said that nobody was paid to be in our film,” Aron added. “That’s not where the Kickstarter money went.”
“They did it because they wanted to, not because they had to,” Leshen said.
“Everyone was appreciative,” Aron said. “I think it’s the general consensus among the cast and crew is, ‘Wow, it’s so great that people appreciate our work so far down the work from when we did it.’”
Interviews for the documentary include parts large and small, including an interview with the big man himself, Steven Spielberg.
They were also nice enough to give us a behind the scenes exclusive to the film.
“We got robbed in San Francisco,” Kubrich said.
“Yeah we did,” Leshen added.
“Thirty of them,” Aron joked. “They had guns! We tried to fight them off, but it was too much.”
In all seriousness, no one was actually hurt, and there were no guns involved. The guys didn’t want to deal with rush hour traffic in San Francisco, and chose to see a movie instead of heading home after filming.
The movie, by the way, was Nightcrawler.
“It was just bad from the get-go,” Aron said of the event. “Our shooter got out of the car and slipped on the marble, it was raining, literally almost died. I watched a man almost die.”
The movie screen, additionally, was tiny. Just adding insult to injury, really.
“And we come out of the theater and I come around to the driver’s side to get in the car, and like, it was a weird delayed reaction. I was like, ‘Oh, we left the window down. Oh, there’s broken glass everywhere. Oh, the window of the car is broken. Oh shit, we got robbed, oh my God our bags are gone!’ And luckily criminals are so stupid, they stole my bag and Lee’s personal bag, my clothes and laptop and stuff like that. They left all of our equipment in the truck.”
Which, if you know anything about film equipment, you realize it really is an incredibly stupid thing not to take. So thankfully, that was good luck on top of bad luck for our Back in Time crew.
“It was a bit a of a nightmare afterwards,” Aron added. “But that was definitely the story. Because had they stolen our equipment, we had to shoot the next day. What would we have filmed on? iPhones?”
Thankfully, they didn’t have to shoot on iPhones, nor did the rest of the film see as much trouble as the crew did that one particular day in San Francisco.
By the way, their interview the next day happened to be with none other than the makers of the Hoverboard.
So not losing the equipment? A stroke of time-traveller’s luck.
“How can you do a film without the hoverboard people?” Leshen said.
“[Greg and Jill Henderson] gave us a very rare tour, actually,” Aron added. “They don’t do a lot of interviews.”
“That was a moment for us where we thought we’d contact them . . . They had gotten New York Times front page coverage, they were a huge news topic. And I told Lee ‘We have to reach out to these people,’ but we thought they were too big for us. And it’s funny, because they took our call! And Lee had said they were so inundated that they were screening all of their calls… And they called us back immediately!”
“We sent the email out,” Leshen continued. “And then something had happened when I sent it out, I don’t remember if my computer crashed, or something . . . I was just thinking, ‘What if the email didn’t go through?’ I know that Jason and Louis were also depending on this so I called and just left this really nervous message saying . . . And thank goodness they called us back. And they are terrific! Jill and Greg Henderson are two of the nicest people out there who could have egos the size of Montana and they just don’t. It’s all about the work and all about making things better for people.”
You can be certain that the crew of Back in Time definitely got passionate about the hoverboards; Leshen, Aron, and Krubich are long time fans with deep and fond memories of the series.
“My first recollection of the trilogy was watching it with my brother,” Krubich said. “I was born in Moscow, Russia, and I moved to Brooklyn in 1987, I was a year and nine months old, my brother was seven years older than me. He didn’t know the language, had to go to school, and so he would watch a lot of TV to try to learn how to speak English. And so ultimately he watched a lot of Back to the Future and me being the younger brother I was sitting there with him the whole time, every time and it’s kind of how I learned to speak the English language as well.”
Aron said, “I have such early memories of being in third or fourth grade, and I had one of those red microphones, one of those Sony things with a microphone on the side, and I would come into school and record Back to the Future line by line with a friend of mine. We’d just go through the whole movie. And as much as I like movies, I typically only see a movie once. I don’t usually have a desire to see a movie even twice. Let alone five times, ten times. I’ve seen Back to the Future 100 times. Easily.”
And Leshen, who actually saw the film in theaters, recalled, “I was seven years old when it came out, I went to the Manhasset movie theater with my father, and this movie just blew my mind. And we walked out of the theater and my dad is trying to explain time travel to me… And we get into his car, which is this old Italian sports car, for some reason it was just the two of us, and I’d just seen the Delorean for an hour and a half. So I said ‘If all we have to do is hit 88, we can do that in this car!’”
Feel free to have your heart explode a little at that one.
Even though all three men are film professionals, this is no less a fan work. These guys really put themselves and their passion into this film, and it just happens to be our luck that they’re experienced in this field.
Back in Time comes out digitally on October 21st. That means you can stream it on Netflix, Hulu, the like, as many times as you want! For more on Back in Time, check out their website. And be sure to watch the trailer here!