Your new movie Starship: Rising - in a few words, what is it
It is a sci fi gothic epic war space opera film.
It tells the story of John Worthy, a young man who mutineers the
most powerful starship in the galaxy and holds a corrupt federation at
What were your inspirations when writing Starship: Rising?
and Dune. I love epic
stories. I love stories that show their true depths after they have
been watched a few times. Also Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan.
With Starship: Rising being a science
fiction movie, is that a genre you're at all fond of, and some of your
I care only for sci-fi, but I like
everything… when it comes to devoting a year of your life to a project
though, it has to be sci-fi to keep my interest.
What can you tell us about your
directorial approach to your subject at hand?
that I do is different. All have different textures and flavors … some seem to be loved more than others by an audience, but I tend to do
what is close to my heart and soul. I used the emotions of anger,
frustration and rage, and challenged them in the actors. I wanted a
complex story that would move fast.
features quite a few quite spectacular special effects - so
what can you tell us about that aspect of your movie?
pretty much did all that myself. It is not perfect visual FX-wise
but I am glad that we won a couple of awards for this. It has
texture and grit and dirt. Was all done in After FX and Cinema
Took me a year … there are way too many visual FX for a movie of
this budget, but I kind of get obsessed.
talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
budget is small, but the idea is to try and find the best you can for the
money involved. I was proud of 80% of the actors we have. They
were punished daily by me. Darren Jacobs is someone who should be
cast in Game of Thrones or something similar, he is one of those
actors who you know is going to be huge one day in a Michael Fassbender
kind of way. Don’t let my crappy film cloud how great is abilities
truly are … I just wish I had better words and a bigger budget to show
off his talent. Then there is Emii, a famous singer/songwriter …
turns out she is a trained actress and a huge sci-fi nerd. She kind
of steals the film. Then there is E.J. de La Pena, who was in many
films like Jingle All the Way with Arnold Swarzenegger. He steals
the second Starship film. Ralph Guzzo, who plays General
Gustav - simply perfect in the role. And then there is Christian
Anderson who was in The Office. Awesome guy and so natural. And
of course Brooke Lewis who flies the starship … she is surprisingly
talented as the sarship pilot - and so perfect in the role. Love
her enough to want to become a cannibal and make pasta sauce out of her.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
There were a couple of assholes, whom I fired quickly, and one whom I
should have fired ... but those who remained standing were wonderful
people. We moved fast and made jokes most of the time. Everyone
wants to work again on another film, so it is always great in this way.
Kind of like a family … I miss my family.
A few words about critical and audience reception of your movie?
have no interested in the critical response anymore. Until they
watch part 2 of Starship, which should be out next year, there is really
nothing anyone should say. The 2 films are meant to be seen as one
big epic. That being said, ALL my films have started with bad
reviews, and after 5 or so years, the reviews get better and better,
because people see there is more to it than the first viewing. Humanity’s
End is a good example. It was 1.3 on IMDb in the first year, and now
is is 3.9. I have no respect for internet trolls because these
people have nothing to say. They are cowards and their opinions are
far as I know, there's already a sequel to Starship: Rising
in the making - want to talk about that one, and other future projects
you'd like to share?
Starship: Apocalypse was shot at the
same time as Starship: Rising. It is much more fun and humorous
and it completes the saga. I am also finishing off Death Machine, a film shot in the UK about the fall of London. Then there
is Descent into the Maelstrom that is currently in pre-prodution, a film
that I am just producing. Plus there is a TV series called Nobility,
which is a Sci-fi comedy.
What got you into moviemaking to
begin with, and did your receive any formal education on the subject?
the age of 2 I had an inkling that I wanted to do space movies, and then I
saw Star Wars at the age of 10, and I was hooked. I went to film
school and graduated in 1986. This was the days of film and bad
video tape. Am so glad those days have passed …
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Starship: Rising,
and your evolution as a director?
To date I have directed 10 feature films, 500+ music videos, and 20+ TV
shows. I was the youngest television director employed at the age
of 21 in Australia and I have worked as a director ever since. Being
so young as a director, it was hard because my crew were often 10 years+
older than me, and were not very appreciative of my age.
feature film was done when I was 30, and it was one of the world’s
first digital films. For sure the first digital feature film with visual
FX. That was Demons in My Head. Following that I made To Become
One, then my first proper sci-fi film, Battlespace. That film took
me 3 years to complete, and this is how I learned to do visual FX.
It was done in high definition, which, back in 2001-2003, was
really an insane thing to do. I then took Demons in my Head and To
Become One, recut them in HD, shot an extra 20 minutes, and renamed them
Nephilim and Bipolar Armageddon. This means that all the films
would take place in the same universe from here on in. So the
order for viewing would be: Chapter 1: Nephilim, Chapter 2: Alien
Armageddon (2010), Chapter 3: Bipolar Armageddon, Chapter 4:
and Chapter 5: Humanity’s End (2006). That was
when I was done with the Nephilim Universe. I also did a
film called Alien Dawn, which is a retelling of War of the
The film from the old era that I am most fond of is Humanity’s End.
I wish I could do a prequel!
Besides movies, you
have also tons of music videos - so what can you tell us about those, and
how does making a music video compare to shooting a feature?
In my world there was more glory directing music videos. But
artistic control doing music videos is fairly low. Record company
executives always like to get their finger in the artistic pie, and this
always ends badly. I have stopped doing music videos for this
reason. It is too soul-destroying. The music videos
where I had full control and was left alone are the ones that won the
most awards and pertain to this day as quality.
would you describe yourself as a director?
constantly changing. I do not like to stick to one style or
method, because I would become bored. If you compare To Become One
to Alien Dawn to Starship: Rising
then you would not see anything similar.
who inspire you?
David Lynch, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas. George was
especially inspiring to me because after I did the first digital feature
film, he and Rick McCallum were very interested in what I did and how I
did it. Everyone else called me a fool except for these two fine
Your favourite movies?
This week it is Edge
of Tomorrow. usually it is The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens,
Dune, Eraserhead, Planet of the Apes, District 9,
and of course, films you really deplore?
I despise a film
that is made by people who don’t care about the story, or the art …
I think everybody knows these types of films and they are never
remembered and never worth mentioning. Aside from this I do
not hate any film. I have no right to judge other people’s
artistic decisions. I have nothing but respect for anyone who can
even get a film completed.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I am hiding from Facebook for the next few weeks, but usually it is
Instagram is empire motion pictures, and also Twitter is the same.
My main website is www.em-pire.com
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
The one thing I am dying to mention is that I have made instructional
DVDs on how I made my first few films. I go into extreme detail of
how I actually do things. When I was in film school, I wish
someone had DVDs like this. I could have saved an entire few years
of learning. this all can be found at www.em-pire.com.
films are getting better and better. Remember that everything I make
is done with heart and soul.
for the interview!