Interview with Danny Buday, Director of Five Star Day
Last year I heard that a new astrology-themed movie called Five Star Day had recently premiered at a film festival in California, and I’m pleased to announce that the movie finally opened in theaters today.
In the movie the main character is on a mission to disprove astrology by comparing his experience of a specific day with that of three other people who were born at the same time. There is a more detailed synopsis of the film and a trailer in the previous article that I wrote about Five Star Day.
I got a chance to see the movie recently and I was really impressed by the way that it portrayed astrology in a somewhat more accurate light than I’m usually accustomed to seeing in movies.
Just in the first few minutes of the film alone, it gives one of the most accurate definitions of astrology that I think I’ve seen in any film to date:
Modern astrology is based on the natal chart, which is essentially a galactic snapshot of the universe and the alignment of the planets and stars relative to your location on Earth the exact moment of your birth. The core belief is that this information is then interpreted using the twelve zodiac signs as indicators of behavior to predict individual personality traits.
As an astrologer I had a number of questions after watching the movie, and I was fortunate enough to be able to pose them to the writer and director of the film, Danny Buday.
Chris Brennan: What is your birth data (if you feel comfortable sharing it)?
Danny Buday: I was born on February 8, 1977 at 10:32 pm at St. Ann’s Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina.
Whose birth data did you use for the main characters in the film? It is given as February 6, 1982 at 10:32 PM in Chicago, Illinois. Is that a hypothetical chart, or is it connected to a real person somehow? I noticed that according to your page on Wikipedia this is only two days away from your own birthday, although in a different year.
The birth data for the main character Jake Gibson is based on a hypothetical natal chart. Though I did specifically want to make the main character an Aquarius and from the Chicago area, the actual data used was not based on a specific person. I’m an Aquarius and my extended family is all from the Chicago area, (which is where I also grew up and lived from ages 2 to 9), so that’s where the city and sign information for the natal chart data used in the film came from. The date Feb 6th was the date that I started writing the first draft of the script and I was born at 10:32 pm, so that’s where that data for the time and date of birth came from.
When did you write the script? I noticed that you were going through your Saturn return when you graduated from the American Film Institute a few years ago, and I was wondering if you weren’t already starting to make plans for it during that time.
I started doing research for the script in November 2007, but didn’t actually start writing the first draft until Feb. 6th, 2008, a few days before my actual birthday, so I chose to make the date Jake’s birthday since his character was effectively ‘born’ on that date.
How much do you know about astrology, or where did you learn the information about astrology that ended up in the film?
When I initially started doing research during the script stage my knowledge about Astrology was fairly basic. I’d read horoscopes and knew what a natal chart was, but I definitely had a lot to learn and spent a few months researching not only Astrology, but other facets including biorhythms and detailed zodiac cycle research in order to try do my best to learn about the topic of Astrology as if I myself was going to give a presentation to a grad school level ethics class on the subject like Jake Gibson in the film.
Do you think that astrology is a legitimate phenomenon, or do you give any credence to it?
Making this film really challenged me to think about whether or not Astrology is a legitimate phenomenon and as a result, I actually have invested in building a website dedicated to finding out that result. Just like the central thesis of 5 STAR DAY – do people who share the same sign share similar experiences? To find out, we’ve built a Facebook-style social network website called Zodiac Tracker to help people around the globe connect and find out as a global experiment how people who share the same horoscopes interact.
Zodiac Tracker – http://www.zodiactracker.com (an online social site designed to help people connect and discuss Astrology).
Did you encounter any resistance from skeptics either in the making of the film or after its release at film festivals? That is to say, have you received any criticism for portraying astrology in too positive of a light?
Yes, we’ve definitely encountered some resistance with both festivals and some reviewers who’ve said that the topic choice of Astrology in general in not substantial enough to make a film out of, or ‘why didn’t the main character just call the other 3 people?’ kind of criticism, but that doesn’t honestly bother me because I believe anyone who actually takes the time to watch 5 STAR DAY will see that the message of the film should be one of empowerment, which is a universal theme regardless of your belief in Astrology.
What was the message that you were trying to convey with the film, particularly with respect to astrology? It seemed like you were going in a certain direction with it for most of the movie, but then I was kind of surprised by some of the statements at the end.
I hope audiences leave 5 STAR DAY questioning how their own choices and decisions every day influence and affect their own destiny and their individual fate, including how their horoscope and astrology influences their lives. I hope audiences take something away from the story and let the journey Jake went on in the film influence them and/or affect them in some positive way, which is what I hope people take away with respect to Astrology – that while a horoscope can point you in the right direction, we must take responsibility for our own actions and take control of our own destiny as well.