Your new movie The Shipment
- in a few words, what is it about?
is a science-fiction drama about a father and daughter stranded on a
wretched space port, unable to afford repairs to their ship. In order to
escape, the father breaks a promise and agrees to illegally transport
To what extent could you actually identify with Kaidan, the broken
hero of The Shipment?
Bobby Bala: The migration of people and border crossings are
urgent issues right now and important to me. There are people crossing borders
for survival and there are people working as human smugglers. Their lives
are complicated and often subjected to negative stereotypes. Kaidan Katar,
the protagonist of this film, is in the moral dilemma of transporting
alien slaves in order to save his daughter. He is a flawed but noble
character who is driven by the desire to protect his family and serve the
greater good. His story needs to be told because it challenges the idea
that human migration is a clear-cut issue. Right or wrong is not always
easy to define.
Assuming there is intelligent life on other worlds, it is a universal
concept that good people sometimes do bad things for the greater good of
providing for and protecting their families.
With The Shipment
being a science fiction movie, is that a genre at all dear to you, and
some of your genre favourites?
Bobby: Yes, Iím definitely a fan of sci-fi, however I
wouldnít say Iím a hardcore sci-fi fan. I enjoy sci-fi just as much as
other genres. It all depends on the story. I wanted to create this film
not only for the sci-fi community, but also for audiences that donít
typically watch sci-fi like my parents for example. I wanted to tell a
human story about family that all audiences could enjoy and relate to.
Ana Carrizales: I grew up with Star Wars and loved those films,
but to be honest I wasnít a big fan of sci-fi films. Iím a big fan of
great storytelling so I jumped into The Shipment
full on, because Bobby
had crafted a very special visual story.
Arun Fryer: Growing up in a small town, my dad made pirated VHS
copies of the original Star Wars
trilogy and these were the only movies we had
at home. We must have watched them a hundred times. I also collected the
action figures and dreamed of becoming Han Solo one day. Later in life, my
first two dramatic films as a student at Vancouver Film School were both
science fiction. Itís a genre Iíve always loved. Some other favourite
sci-fi favourites include Blade Runner, Alien and
District 9. Iím also a
big horror fan, especially classics like The
Shining, Friday the 13th and
Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Itís nice to see horror is having a bit of a
comeback with films like Get Out, It and Us.
Other sources of
inspiration when writing The
Bobby: One day while parked at a gas station, I saw a burly
truck driver and his young daughter getting fuel for their large
18-wheeler. I wondered if he was a single dad and I imagined how a similar
scenario would play out if he was a poor cargo hauler in space traveling
from planet to planet with his daughter.
Shipment is quite filled with special effects - so do talk about
the effects in your movie for a bit, and how were they achieved?
Bobby: We shot the entire film on green screen in a small food
Ana: We shot the whole film in a motion capture studio and made
a previz animation, which is like animated storyboards. I got to play a
few characters in the previz, including the daughter Zohra and the alien
mechanic, which was a lot of fun. The crew used the previz as guideline to
shoot the film and as road map for the place and timing of the VFX.
Arun: I had never attempted anything on this scale before, so it
was a huge learning curve. Although we had some practical sets, like the
shipís control panel and Zohraís room of paintings, most of the time
we had to trust Bobbyís vision and imagination. Heís a VFX wizard and
a perfectionist when it comes to CGI animation, so I was never worried
about the final image, but it was tricky trying to capture the all the
action in our rented warehouses. If you watch the film, he has several
specific shots near the beginning that were technically challenging to
shoot. The previz helped a lot in explaining his vision. During
post-production, we worked with talented VFX artists all around the world,
from Australia to Colombia, and they are very happy with the movie.
What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to
your story at hand?
Bobby: With a background in
computer animation, I was able to create a full previz animation of the
film complete with music and dialogue before we started shooting the film.
This was an invaluable tool with which I was able to show the crew so they
could visualize all the shots and the story we would be telling. The
previz also allowed me to edit and visualize the film so that I could see
if the story and the various cuts were working. Itís also a great way
for people to get excited about the project. I feel that every filmmaker
should use some form of previz no matter the genre.
Do talk about your key cast, and why
exactly these people?
Bobby: When I decided to pursue filmmaking, I thought it would
be amazing if I could make my first film with my daughter Ishana who was
about 10 years old at the time. With the idea of the space trucker concept
still in my mind, I started writing the script and I imagined
Ishana in the role of the daughter. I had a small window of time before
she became too mature to play the role.
Aleks Paunovic, who plays Kaidan Katar, was amazing to work with and a
true experienced professional. For a first time filmmaker, he was the
perfect actor to work with since he was so patient and understanding. We
worked really well together. My main reason for casting Aleks was because I was looking for a big,
burly truck driver type of character that also had a soft emotional side.
From his previous work, I knew that he could express the emotions I was
looking for. I also heard he was amazing to work with and very talented as
A few words about the shoot as
such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Bobby: Working with my daughter Ishana was actually quite
challenging for me and more difficult than I had expected because I had to
constantly switch from ďdadĒ mode to ďdirectorĒ mode. The
communication is just different and sometimes challenging to get the
performance I needed. Fortunately my producer Ana Carrizales was on set
and was able to assist Ishana and me when needed on some occasions.
Ana: As a first time director, Bobby had the massive challenge
of directing crew and actors in a universe that wasnít there, on a set
surrounded by green screen. It only existed in his head and in the previz.
Plus the additional challenge of directing his own daughter, Ishana, in a
lead role. Bobby wanted to distance the dadís voice from the
directorís voice to get the performance. I used my background as an
actor to suggest a language that would work for them early in the process.
Bobby did incredible work directing and Ishana was wonderful in the role
Arun: Because we were an independent production, there was an
air of nervous excitement every day on set. Collectively we were
attempting something bigger than weíd ever attempted, from the VFX to
the creature make-up. Our cast and crew were passionate about the project
and determined to make things work no matter what. Like every production,
we had ups and downs, but we sensed that we were making something special.
I can still clearly remember hugging everyone on the last day.
The $64-question of
course, where can The Shipment
We are currently playing the festival circuit,
with upcoming screenings at the Sci Fi London in May and in LA at the
Horror Haus Film Festival. After the positive reviews in Tribeca, weíre
hoping for even more.
Anything you can tell us about audience and
critical reception of The
Ana: It surpassed my expectations by far. The most inspiring
compliment came from die hard sci-fi fans who are telling us that they
wouldíve enjoyed the film even without the VFX. They truly love the
Arun: So far the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive,
which is rewarding after working on the film for five years. Itís easy
to forget sometimes after watching countless times through the editing
process, but the audience response reminded us of the magic on screen, as
if seeing again for the first time.
Any future projects you'd like to
Bobby: Iíve been dabbling here and there with some possible
storylines for a possible feature and/or TV series based on this film. I
plan to assemble a small pre-production team and ramp up development in
the coming months. I should have a package to present to potential
investors/distributors sometime in the second half of 2019. This would
include storylines, concept art, and character development and possibly
even some previz animations.
What can you ell us about your filmwork prior to The
Shipment, in whatever position?
Bobby: I worked as freelance animator on a few various things,
including Reboot, which was a sci-fi childrenís TV show.
Ana: As producer, my latest production is a documentary short
called The Day Don Died, which screened last week at the Hot Docs
Film Festival in Toronto. It will also screen in Newport Film Festival and
will continue the festival run this year. As director and writer, my film Media Luna is dramatic short that recently premiered at the
Vancouver Women In Film Festival.
Arun: I produced a psychological thriller feature called Cadence (which is currently looking for distribution) and a directed
a short documentary love story called Before Sheís Gone, which can
be seen on Vimeo.
Arun Fryer, Ana Carrizales, Bobby Bala, Ishana
How would you describe Bobby Bala as a director?
Ana: He cares deeply about every detail, no matter how big or
small. He has a stunning vision, and in that sense he is an inspiring
Arun: Bobby is one of the smartest people I know and never
settles for anything thatís below his high standards. Heís deeply
committed to making the best possible film, even as a first-time
filmmaker. What he lacked in experience during our shoot, especially in
the early stages, he made up for in determination and vision.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Ana: Just to name a few: Ava Duvernay, Shonda Rhimes, Mary
Harron, Sarah Polley, The Wachowski Sisters, Jane Campion.
Arun: Filmmakers with vision and style like Quentin Tarantino,
Christopher Nolan, David Fincher and Denis Villeneuve, plus the cinematic
master, Stanley Kubrick. For documentaries, Iíll watch any films made by
Ondi Timoner, Laura Poitras and Alex Gibney. On the producing side, Jason
Blum from Blumhouse Productions is a hero of mine. I admire his approach
and passion for the industry. Iíd love to collaborate with him on a
horror; Iíve got a couple of films ready to pitch if he happens to read
Ana: This is a hard question. There are so many. The Godfather 1
& 2, Goodfellas, The Constant Gardener, The Piano, Heat, plus many
Arun: Top 5 - Pulp Fiction, The Empire Strikes Back, Requiem For A
Dream, A Clockwork Orange, 8
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Ana: Most superhero movies.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Arun: Hallmark TV movies, although I canít knock them too
much, since they employ a lot of my friends in the Vancouver film
industry. My dad loves them.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Arun: Our website is coming soon, but for now you can find us at
@theshipmentfilm on Instagram and Twitter and facebook.com/theshipmentfilm
plus you can find me at @arunfryer and arunfryer.com
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Bobby: Thanks for the opportunity to share our film and
for the interview!