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Cunningham heats up with 'Centigrade'

Friday - August 29, 2008 | by David Read

Colin Cunningham has been busy! Aside from appearances in Stargate: Continuum and television series like jPod, he has been promoting his short thriller "Centigrade," in which he writes, directs and stars.

GateWorld caught up with Cunningham at Gatecon 2008 in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he was happy to tell us about the concept and inspiration behind the film, and where he plans to take the project next.

"Centigrade, in a nutshell, is about a guy who lives in an old dilapidated, busted-up trailer," he told us. "There's no wheels on it. It's just laying dead in the weeds. [The owner] does a bad thing, and he wakes up in the morning and [the trailer is] rolling down the highway. It's being towed by a big, black pickup truck.

"The doors won't open and the windows won't break and he can't get out. That's essentially what it's about. It's about a man trapped."

"Centigrade" was one of three scripts Colin wrote more than a decade ago. He has kept them sealed in a box waiting for the appropriate time to bring them out.

"There's maybe three or four lines of dialogue throughout the whole film," he said. "It's all basically visual imagery and telling the story through images. In a way it's an homage, a tribute to Steven Spielberg's 'Duel.' " Other sources of inspiration for the writer included Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, a series which was known for bringing justice to characters who deserved it.

Cunningham openly admits that acting the part was not his idea. "I wanted to focus on just directing it," he told GateWorld. "My lead actor, the guy that I wanted, basically was blowing me off. 'Fine, great. I'll do it.' I don't want to say it worked out better, but it worked out quicker. I didn't need to spend a lot of time talking to the other actor. I knew what I needed ... But it's hard to flip back and forth."

Cunningham plays a man whose dark deeds catch up with him.
GateWorld asked Colin to elaborate on what the "bad act" had been, but he wasn't going to reveal that part of the story. "I think the trick for me directorially was to create a guy who was a bad guy. Just a bad guy that you would not feel sorry for at all, and take him through the process of basically being trapped like an animal, and seeing if I can get the audience to have some compassion for him.

"Here's a guy you'd never think twice of, just a real dirt bag, and yet because you're trapped with him you've got to go through everything that this guy goes through ... There's definitely a bit of judgment day, atonement. At the end of it you become him ... He definitely gets his comeuppance. There's no question about it. And sometimes it's not a pretty site. But that's what it is."

And the message of the film? "Hopefully everybody thinks twice about the decisions they make," Cunningham told us. "Maybe a bit of karma. Who knows? Maybe at the end of the day there might be something waiting for you. The message is to maybe think twice, no matter where you come from."

"Centigrade" has already won several awards, and now qualifies for an Academy Award. "It's opened up doors," he said. "We're developing it into a feature ... We basically started off making a short, but we're developing it into a feature film. We should have that done within the next six months."

Stay with GateWorld for more updates surrounding "Centigrade" in the coming months. Be sure to visit the official movie Web site, and Cunningham's blog, at!

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