Zenisphere Films Presents: ‘Thieves’ – Review and Interview!

I have always been a fan of science fiction. I love futuristic films, and I have always appreciated a good original story. In March, I saw a short film called Thieves. This film can only be described as a thought-provoking cyberpunk thriller. It is rare to see a 14-minute long piece of art and crave so much more. As it ended, I wished that I was a wealthy woman, and could fund a full-length film. The reasons I would like the world to see this fourteen minute mindf*** are plentiful.

I cannot stress to you enough how much I despise spoilers, especially for works with such a small amount of tangible content. This is why I must not reveal much about the plot. In a futuristic world of New Detroit, there is a condemned building. The movie begins with an interrogation between Jason Arthur (Sheldon Simmons) and Butterfly Agent Janice Monroe (Kelly Kirstein). Also in the room, the Extractor (Didrik Davis), bodyguard to Janice.

The agency called Butterfly has been put into place to ensure a stimulated economy and obedient, loyal citizens. They use the citizens with bright, original ideas and talents to meet their goals. Butterfly is after Jason Arthur. For what?

The 14 minutes this film lasts go by far too quickly. Little portions of the truth are peeled back as the dialogue continues, and it made me really think. Imagine that… not only a film that made me think, but left me with questions, intrigue, and a smile. All of this in such a short amount of time really gave me a feeling of hope. In a world full of sequels and shitty Tim Burton films, here lies a gem.

One of the things I loved about Thieves is that I thought about the film for far longer than it actually lasted. My eyes were glued to the screen for 14 minutes, but my brain rolled film and screamed ideas at me for hours afterward, and hours since.

If you still aren’t convinced that you should see this film, consider its origin. The film company Zenisphere produced Thieves on a budget of around $300.Written and Directed by J.G. Barnes, Zenisphere founder, Thieves has a collection of special effects, intelligent dialogue, and some pretty incredible acting. Check out the full credits on the IMDB page: Thieves IMDB

I had the pleasure of interviewing the writer and director, J.G. Barnes. He is a very talented and interesting person.

  • I asked Barnes to tell me a little bit about himself. Kind of a cliche question, but we need to know.

I’ve always been a spaced out kid, fascinating about the most crazy stories with giant monsters and the Martial Arts wielding robots that would defeat them. Nothing in this world makes me happier than creating art; especially stories, and I honestly think I can make the world a better place with my work and I don’t care how ridiculous that sounds. Art is an addiction for me no matter the medium. Life without art is a life not worth living.

  • I then asked what some of his favorite movies are. The answer legitimately surprised me, in a good way. How fabulous.

You’re lucky I’m geeky enough to already have written a Top 50 list which is in a perpetual state of being unreliable. Yeah, I’m as geeky as it gets. I’ll give you a somewhat random ten: Speed Racer, Fight Club, Martyrs, Love me if You Dare, My Sassy Girl (the original South Korean version), The Fountain, The Cell, Brothers Bloom, Gladiator, Braveheart.

  • I asked Barnes if Thieves was something that just clicked one day, or if it was a long creation process. I wanted to know his inspiration for this film.

Like all of my ideas, Thieves started as a basic set of emotions I wanted to convey and a very core idea: one room, people hate each other, motivations are vague until the climax. I knew I wanted a sense of unease, mystery, and to give the audience a lot for their brain to chew on. Then I start thinking about tone and that’s when I look to my favorite directors: think Fincher, Abrams, Tarantino. Took me roughly three months to write, although, a very large chunk of the script was omitted from the final cut.

I never come up with an initial idea and stick to it. That’s creative suicide. You have to treat your ideas like children. Once you pop them out, you kinda have to let them scrape their knees on the playground a bit. This idea took me to a dystopian future with genetic modification abuse run amok, ya know, classic cyberpunk stuff with an Orwellian vibe, maybe even 1984-ish. A terrorist. An agent. They hate each other and are trying to strike a deal. The terrorist is a genius, almost a Tony Stark kinda guy, with huge ideas that could save the human race or destroy it depending on who gets their way.

It started getting really big and that’s when I decided to just make it a prequel to a novel I’ve been working on the last couple of years called Phantom City. The complete Part 1 is available on my personal website: jessegbarnes.blogspot.com. Big sci-fi opera, very summer blockbuster-like.


You may attend the premiere of Thieves at the Mitten Movie Project at the Royal Oak Main Art Theater (in Royal Oak Michigan) on July 3, 2012. Tickets are $10 at the lobby. I strongly recommend you see this film for yourself.

As a final thought, I must say that I have suspended my cynicism for new films. There is hope for art, yet.

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