Exclusive Interview: Director JAMES FOX Unveils the Digital Dystopia in CRYPTO SHADOWS – A Cinematic Journey Through Isolation and Connectivity


In an exclusive interview with INFRARED MAG, visionary filmmaker James Fox delves deep into the heart of CRYPTO SHADOWS, his latest cinematic endeavor that masterfully captures the essence of our digital era’s complexities. With a career that bridges the realms of literature and film, Fox’s transition from the written word to the screen brings an unparalleled depth to his storytelling, making CRYPTO SHADOWS more than just a film—it’s a reflection of his artistic evolution. Rooted in his experiences at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and his leadership at Dawnrunner Inc., Fox’s work stands out for its intricate narratives and compelling visual style, making CRYPTO SHADOWS a poignant exploration of technology’s pervasive shadow over our lives.

Through the lens of CRYPTO SHADOWS, Fox embarks on an exploration of digital age anxieties, drawing inspiration from the early days of internet phenomena like the SETI@home project to the modern-day intricacies of cryptocurrency. The film, through its central character Cara, navigates the treacherous waters of digital connectivity and isolation, offering viewers a unique perspective on the psychological effects of our increasingly online existence. Fox’s methodical research and passionate storytelling breathe life into the complex themes of CRYPTO SHADOWS, making it a compelling call to action for greater awareness of our mental well-being in the digital age.

Watch the Official Trailer for ‘CRYPTO SHADOWS’ Here:

INFRARED MAG: First and foremost, thank you for joining us. What inspired you to create CRYPTO SHADOWS, and how does it reflect your artistic journey?

JAMES FOX: CRYPTO SHADOWS was born from a desire to explore the darker aspects of our digital age, particularly the intersection of technology and self-isolation, and its overall impact on mental health. The initial inspiration came from the SETI@home project from 1999, primarily the crowdsourcing of decryption, and how it echoes what we have today with cryptocurrency. As the concept evolved, it became a vehicle to examine digital age paranoia and the psychological effects of isolation. This film reflects my artistic journey towards creating narratives that not only engage with contemporary issues but also offer a deeper look into the complexities of mental well-being in an increasingly connected yet isolated world.

INFRARED MAG: Your films often weave intricate narratives. How did you approach the storytelling aspect of CRYPTO SHADOWS?

JAMES FOX: I was really focused on Cara and her personal journey. It was crucial for me to keep her isolated from other characters, making the story uniquely hers and hers alone. This approach meant that the audience experiences everything solely from Cara’s point of view. It’s a bit like we’re in her shoes, feeling her isolation, her confusion. You’re left wondering alongside her – is this reality, or just her perception? I wanted to create a narrative that’s not only immersive but also personally resonant, where the audience is directly in tune with Cara’s experiences, questioning everything as she does.


INFRARED MAG: Considering your literary pursuits, how does your approach to writing influence your filmmaking, particularly in CRYPTO SHADOWS?

JAMES FOX: My passion for science fiction and fantasy, which I also explore in my book series “The Sol Saga,” really came into play. These genres are like my sandbox for exploring big, personal themes in a way that feels safe yet expansive. You’ll see a bit of that crossover in the film – Cara even has a copy of “The Sol Saga” on her desk. In both my writing and filmmaking, I love using these imaginative worlds to delve into deep, meaningful conversations. It’s about creating a space where we can talk about the tough stuff, but through a lens that’s a bit more removed from our reality, making it a bit easier to tackle.

INFRARED MAG: CRYPTO SHADOWS delves into complex themes. What message did
you hope to convey to your audience through this film?

JAMES FOX: With CRYPTO SHADOWS, I aimed to open up a dialogue about the impact of technology on our mental health, especially in this era where digital and real-life often intertwine. I wanted to show how easily our perception of reality can be distorted, not just by technology, but also by our own minds when left in isolation. It’s a reflection on how we navigate the digital world and its effects on our psyche. The film is really a call to be more aware of our mental well-being in this digital age, and to recognize the importance of staying connected in meaningful ways, beyond just the screens in front of us.

INFRARED MAG: CRYPTO SHADOWS seems to explore digital age anxieties. What drew you to this theme, and why do you think it’s important today?

JAMES FOX: We’re all caught up in this digital whirlwind, and I think it’s important to step back and look at how it’s affecting us mentally. The idea was to take something I’m personally grappling with – this constant digital connection – and weave it into a story that maybe helps us all think about finding a balance. It’s a theme that’s super relevant today, and I wanted to shine a light on it in a way that’s relatable.

INFRARED MAG: Can you talk about the research process behind the cryptocurrency themes in CRYPTO SHADOWS?

JAMES FOX: In crafting the cryptocurrency themes for CRYPTO SHADOWS, Amy Kay Duboff and I embarked on a thorough and multifaceted research journey. It began with us delving into the essentials of blockchain and cryptocurrency, through a mix of reading, documentaries, and even attending webinars. To capture the cultural and psychological nuances, we immersed ourselves in online forums and social media, keenly observing the dynamics within the crypto community.

Jeremy Highhouse, our cryptocurrency advisor, was an invaluable resource in this process. His deep
understanding of both the technical and societal aspects of cryptocurrency greatly enriched our perspective, ensuring our portrayal was both authentic and insightful.

Amy and I were particularly focused on striking the right balance in presenting this information. With Jeremy’s help, we aimed to keep the technological details accurate and intriguing, yet approachable for our audience. It was essential that the intricacies of cryptocurrency were woven into the narrative in a way that was compelling and understandable, without overwhelming viewers with complexity. This careful balance of depth and accessibility in our research was a cornerstone in our storytelling approach for the film.

JAMES FOX Director of CRYPTO SHADOWS at Film Quest
JAMES FOX Director of CRYPTO SHADOWS at Film Quest

INFRARED MAG: Can you share how your background in directing at the Academy of Art in San Francisco influenced the visual style of CRYPTO SHADOWS?

JAMES FOX: Directing at the Academy of Art in San Francisco really shaped my approach to the visual style of CRYPTO SHADOWS, and collaborating with Alex Simon, our cinematographer, was a key part of bringing that vision to the screen. At the Academy, I was immersed in a world of diverse artistic influences and learned the importance of using visuals to tell a story, not just to fill the screen.

Working with Alex was fantastic. We really clicked creatively. Together, we focused on giving the film this isolated, almost eerie vibe to echo Cara’s journey. Alex has this incredible talent for capturing emotions through the lens, and his input was crucial in achieving the unsettling atmosphere we wanted. Our shared goal was to make every shot not just look good, but feel right, adding depth to the story.

There’s a bit of the Academy’s eclectic energy in our work, and Alex was instrumental in blending that with the unique, slightly futuristic feel of the film. Our collaboration was all about making the audience feel what Cara feels – that sense of being alone in a digital world. It was this personal, creative journey for both of us, and I think that really shows in the film’s visual storytelling.

Huge shoutout to the AAU and all my instructors there!

INFRARED MAG: The film’s aesthetics have been praised. Could you elaborate on your creative process in achieving the visual tone of CRYPTO SHADOWS?

JAMES FOX: Oh, thank you so much for that! So, for CRYPTO SHADOWS, we really played with the color palettes to match the different settings and what they represented in Cara’s world. In the tech bunker, we went with cold metals, cool colors, and that harsh artificial lighting to create a sense of detachment and artificiality. It’s stark, it’s uninviting, and it really mirrors the isolation of the digital world she’s entangled in.

Inside her grandfather’s cabin, it’s a whole different vibe. We used warm earth tones, bathed the scenes in welcoming light, and even used firelight in a few scenes to give it this cozy, safe feeling. It was all about creating a sense of comfort and nostalgia, a stark contrast to the tech bunker.

Then, for the outdoor scenes, we leaned into natural, soft, diffused lighting with lots of greens and pale blues. It was important to make the outdoors feel like this refreshing escape from the other two environments – more real, more serene.

Dessiree McFarland, our editor, and Mihika Padbidri, our colorist, were key in bringing these contrasts to life in post-production. Dessiree’s editing made sure the transitions between these different worlds kept the audience questioning Cara’s reality, while Mihika’s color grading tied it all together, enhancing the narrative and really driving home the interplay of these different settings. Their hard work was crucial in making these visual contrasts so impactful.

INFRARED MAG: How did you go about selecting the music, and what role does it play in the storytelling?

JAMES FOX: Working with Arhynn Descy on the music for CRYPTO SHADOWS was amazing. She’s not just brilliant; her ability to capture the emotional essence of a scene and translate it into music is incredible. Her score played a huge role in the storytelling, guiding the audience’s emotions and perceptions, especially in those moments where reality gets a bit fuzzy. Collaborating with her was a real joy. She brought so many fresh, creative ideas to the table, and her music became a vital part of the film’s narrative. Her talent truly took the project to the next level.

INFRARED MAG: Your Native American heritage and California upbringing have enriched your narratives. Can you discuss how these aspects influenced CRYPTO SHADOWS?

JAMES FOX: Besides just growing up in an environment that not only expected, but loved storytelling, my heritage and growing up in California really influenced CRYPTO SHADOWS in a variety of ways. The Native American respect for interconnectedness helped shape how the film looks at the link between our environment and mental health. Plus, being from California, where you’ve got this mix of natural beauty and tech everywhere, really inspired the different settings in the film – like how Cara moves between the outdoor spaces and tech-heavy environments. It’s all about showing her journey in a world that’s changing fast, drawing on my background to make the story richer and more grounded.

INFRARED MAG: In crafting the characters for CRYPTO SHADOWS, how did you draw upon your expertise in creating captivating personas in your literature?

JAMES FOX: I love making characters that feel like someone you could run into at a coffee shop, but with that extra layer of intrigue. It’s like, ‘Hey, you might have your quirks, but so does my character, and they’re trying to decipher a crypto conspiracy!’ It’s about blending the everyday with a hint of the extraordinary, making them relatable yet fascinatingly complex.

INFRARED MAG: Crypto Shadows is aims to engage the audience emotionally. How did you approach character development in CRYPTO SHADOWS to ensure a deep emotional connection with the audience?

JAMES FOX: I approached character development with the goal of making them feel like old friends to the audience. I wanted each character to have quirks and qualities that were relatable and real. It’s about crafting these moments where you think, ‘Yep, I’ve felt that way too,’ or ‘I know someone just like that.’ This way, when the characters experience the highs and lows, the audience is right there with them, feeling every bit of it.

INFRARED MAG: Collaboration is key in filmmaking. Can you discuss a memorable collaborative moment during the production of CRYPTO SHADOWS?

JAMES FOX: One memorable moment of collaboration on CRYPTO SHADOWS was during a particularly tricky scene. Mikayla Iverson, who was just sensational as Cara, brought this incredible depth to the moment, but something was still off. Suddenly as a light was being moved, it passed over Cara’s face. Almost instantly, me and Tyler Farr, the incredibly talented assistant director, and I shared a look. Headlights! That was what it was missing! I called out a request to the gaffer over the radio, and that iconic moment at the door was born. Jeffrey Scharberg, the gaffer, was excited to setup a “special” that enhanced the story, even though it was off schedule. And boy, did it pop! That day really summed up our set’s vibe – it was all about being all hands-on deck, open to ideas, and totally committed to making the best film we could. Everyone was really into it, and it showed.

INFRARED MAG: As a director, how do you navigate the challenges of bringing complex, multi-layered stories like CRYPTO SHADOWS to life on the screen?

JAMES FOX: Woah, that’s a tough one! Bringing a complex, multi-layered story like CRYPTO SHADOWS to life is a bit like solving a giant puzzle while riding a roller coaster. For me, it’s all about staying true to the heart of the story while managing the intricate details. I rely heavily on my team – we brainstorm, troubleshoot, and sometimes just go with our gut. It’s a balancing act between honoring the script and being flexible enough to adapt when a scene evolves naturally. Keeping the end goal in sight and remembering why we started the project helps steer the ship through those choppy creative waters.

INFRARED MAG: Given your diverse creative outlets, how does CRYPTO SHADOWS reflect your growth as both a filmmaker and a storyteller?

JAMES FOX: CRYPTO SHADOWS was a real leap of faith for me, especially with its single-character focus. In today’s market, where audience attention is hard-won, centering an entire feature-length film on one character is a huge risk. It’s challenging to keep viewers engaged without a lot of external action. But this project was about trusting my instincts as a storyteller and filmmaker. Allowing myself the freedom to tell the story in the way I felt it needed to be told was a significant step. It pushed me to explore new depths of character development and narrative engagement. This film reflects my growth, showing that I’m not just about complex plots or multiple characters, but also about diving deep into a singular, immersive experience and making it resonate with an audience. It’s been a journey in honing my skills to create something that’s both intimate and captivating.

INFRARED MAG: Your work often features rich, imaginative worlds. Can you share how you envisioned and brought to life the world of CRYPTO SHADOWS?

JAMES FOX: Bringing CRYPTO SHADOWS to life with Amy Kay Duboff was like a sci-fi writer’s dream come true. I’m certain this will not be the last time we collaborate on something epic. We both thrive on creating vast, intricate worlds and her input was invaluable. Picture us, two sci-fi buffs, weaving this cool tech and insanely complex conspiracy into a cohesive universe. Amy’s genius in large-universe-spanning space opera development perfectly complemented my vision for the struggles of Cara, making this collaboration a real blast.

INFRARED MAG: Finally, what’s next for you after CRYPTO SHADOWS? Are there any themes or stories you’re eager to explore in your future projects?

JAMES FOX: There’s a bunch of cool stuff coming up, and I’m super excited about it! All my stories have some kind of subtle message to deliver or questions that are posed. So, be expecting that. As to what’s currently on deck, I’ve got two horror films in the pipeline that are seriously creepy, and I’m itching to get started on those. Plus, exploring some avenues for bringing “The Sol Saga” to the screen, which will be so incredible! On top of that, I’m juggling three new book series – a Viking-inspired fantasy, another sci-fi adventure, and a wild supernatural urban fantasy. It’s a whirlwind of projects, twenty-four in total, and honestly, it’s amazing that this is my job. Never a dull moment, and I love it!

CRYPTO SHADOWS Behind the Scenes
Director JAMES FOX taking a break in his car.

As CRYPTO SHADOWS shines a light on the digital whirlwind that encompasses our lives, James Fox stands as a beacon of creativity and insight in the film industry. His commitment to exploring contemporary issues through a creative lens not only marks CRYPTO SHADOWS as a significant addition to his body of work but also opens up vital conversations about the impact of technology on our psyche. Looking ahead, Fox’s enthusiasm for tackling new themes and stories signals a thrilling future for cinema, inviting audiences to reflect on the shadows cast by our interconnected lives in an increasingly digital society.

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