Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Post-blockbuster Summer Movie Guide

        Entertainment | Behind the Scenes

A Scanner Darkly
"A Scanner Darkly"
"A Scanner Darkly"
Image courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
  1. According to his Web site, Philip K. Dick is now "the most adapted SF author in the history of film." Other novels by Dick that have been made into successful movies throughout the years include "Bladerunner," "Imposter," "Minority Report," "Paycheck" and "Total Recall." "A Scanner Darkly" and "Bladerunner" are the only American-made films based on full novels rather than short stories.
  2. The novel "A Scanner Darkly" was based on Phillip K. Dick's personal problems with drugs and addiction. It is set in the near future, where surveillance is pervasive. Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arctor, a secret agent trying to uncover a drug ring.
  3. Both Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder accepted the Screen Actor's Guild minimum payment for the film: $72,000.
  4. The total budget for the film was $8 million.
  5. The film uses a method of animation known as interpolated rotoscoping, which lays animation directly over the real film. This technique was first pioneered in Linklater's "Waking Life." Rotoscoping is simply animation traced over each frame of film. Interpolated rotoscoping, however, uses vector keyframes and other advances in computer graphics to create a very distinctive look.
  6. To make "A Scanner Darkly" look even more unique, comic book artists provided the illustrations instead of traditional animators.
  7. Despite the low budget, the film boasted a large animation department, using five teams of ten animators to complete the interpolated rotoscoping process. One of those teams works only on Keanu's "scramble suit," which his character uses to evade detection. The "scramble suit" is a mask that generates an array of human faces of every age and race.
  8. Many rumors surrounded the film, with one of the most popular concerning the movie's soundtrack. British alternative rock band Radiohead was supposedly composing the score. The rumors turned out to be false, although Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke's song "Black Swan" is featured in the credits.
  9. An official "A Scanner Darkly" trailer remix contest was held by RES Media Group and Warner Bros. Entertainment. Fans were given the challenge of taking the official movie trailer and, using software from the RES Web site, recut a new trailer from the material. Members of the movie's creative team judged the contest, which ended June 7 (one month before the movie's release). The winner received a trip for two to the U.S. premiere of the movie, plus a Microsoft Windows video editing workstation. Fans can view all of the submitted remixed trailers here.
  10. San Diego's 2005 Comic Con included a panel on "A Scanner Darkly" featuring producer Tommy Pallotta, four of the film's animators, and an animatronic robot of Phillip K. Dick. The robot, modeled after the late writer, looked and sounded like Dick and was even able to respond to simple questions asked by attendees using a special microphone. One of the audience members went up to the mic and asked Dick if he dreamed of electric sheep. After asking the article again, Dick went on a 90 second monologue about the differences between Ridley Scott's "Bladerunner" and his original book, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

Opens on July 7, 2006