New SF Movies 2013: Interviews

Atlantic Rim





                        Coming up for cold release this summer and now available as you read this are two Films of a somewhat experimental nature, well worthy of the attention of science fiction readers.

            ATLANTIC RIM stars Academy Award-winning Graham Greene, as well as David Chokachi (Baywatch) and Anthony “TREACH” Criss (Naughty by Nature).  The movie is considered by some a “mockbuster” of the upcoming mega-budget, summer tent pole Pacific Rim. It’s about sea monsters vs. giant robots. The ATLANTIC RIM trailer may be viewed here.

             SURPRISING presents an interview with its director, Jared Cohn:

Surprising:  Will the film be released to general motion picture audiences, or televised?

Cohn: The movie ATLANTIC RIM aka ATTACK FROM BENEATH will be officially released worldwide to audiences via VOD, Redbox, DVD, and, hopefully, after this initial release, it will play on either Chiller TV or maybe even SyFy channel.  But since it was produced by The Asylum, they have quite a bit of outlets to release a film on. They're a major independent production and distribution company. They have been around fifteen years so they have their distro game-plan in place.

Surprising: Where was the shooting of the film done?  What filming techniques were used?

Cohn: The movie was shot in Pensacola, Florida. This place is like ten minutes from the border of Alabama. It was nice there, lots of white sand on the beaches. The filming techniques were to move fast! We did not have a long schedule or a lot of money so we had to hustle to make sure we got enough footage to tell the story.  We wound up shooting quite a bit of footage.  There was a lot of computer-generated imagery used so we have to incorporate ways to shoot live action with the intent of adding CGI to the final shots (to add the sea monsters and giant robots).

Surprising: Is the film one you consider apocalyptic in nature?

Cohn: I would say yes, since once these giant creatures come out from under the sea, they could easily destroy the planet. They are sort of like dinosaurs in a way, meaning that if dinosaurs really came back to life, we, the humans, would be in grave danger. So, while the creatures are the bad guys, if they win, then it would for sure be the apocalypse. It definitely has some apocalyptic themes in it.

Suprising: What are some of the inspirational sources of the film?

Cohn: For me, this movie was always about the characters. The creatures and robots are of course the highlight to the movie, but at the end of the day you have to care about the people involved. If you don’t, no one will care what happens to them.  So, the inspirations were the actors themselves, getting to know them and what makes them unique, and then taking those characteristics and fleshing them out and incorporating them into the story. Although I will admit I am a fan of Godzilla, so for me I imagined that creature running around, creating chaos in the streets.

Surprising: What prompted you to make a film of this type?

Cohn: The wonderful guys at The Asylum gave me the opportunity to make this film. This was a project that was slated to go forward, so they essentially brought me on to direct…I, of course, expressed an interest in the project because it was a badass idea. I love being on set and making movies, so for me it was an easy decision to take on the challenge.  I am proud of it and the trailer can be seen on my website and also the site people can follow me and see what I am up to!

Surprising: Do you have a background in science fiction? If so, how much does the science fiction background have to do with the film and what went into the film?

Cohn: I love STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. I enjoy science, and have written a couple of science fiction scripts.

Surprising: Is there something the film has to say to its viewers, something you’d like them to take with them after they’ve seen the film?

Cohn: I would just say to enjoy the movie; it’s got some science fiction to it, but all the technology and creatures are founded on reality.


HEREAFTER is a new sci-fi thriller that has just been completed by a group of young film-makers, that stars Anthony Head (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE  SLAYER/MERLIN), Rob Ostlere (GAME OF THRONES), and Lydia Wilson (NEVER LET ME GO/BLACK MIRROR). It was shot in a week and is being distributed online by Channelflip. It may be viewed in full here or on Youtube.

The makers of the film have this to say about it:  “Hereafter Films and Channelflip are thrilled to announce that ‘Hereafter’, a new supernatural sci-fi thriller from award-winning young film-maker Johnny Kenton, will be released on YouTube channel ‘The Multiverse’ on June 20th.

“The film follows the story of Katcher (Lydia Wilson) in a near-future world where the Internet feed in people’s heads is being possessed by an elusive figure called ‘The Ghost’. We follow Katcher as she attempts to pass brutal initiations to join the genetically modified Police Force, known as ‘The Guardians’. As she progresses and discovers more about her past, she is forced into ever more high-stakes decisions on her future and the very future of ‘The State’.


“The film was shot on the smallest of micro-budgets, yet has an incredible cast of both up-and-coming and established talent including Anthony Head, Lydia Wilson, Rob Ostlere, Morgan Watkins, Taron Edgerton, James Garnon, Akemnji Ndifornyen, as well as hot new talents Eloise Lovell Anderson, Ashley ‘Spyder’ Holland, Julia Vandoorne, Harriet Catchpole, Olivia Morgan, Flora Berkeley, YouTube star Emma Blackery and Hedydd Dylan.


“It also features mind-blowing stunts from the Storm Freerunning Team, who, as ‘Guardians’, jump off buildings for real—without wires, safety harnesses, or even crash mats. The film was written and directed by Johnny Kenton and shot in a week by a crew that includes Dan Nightengale (Director of Photography), Ed Clark, and Daniel Lawson Johnston.

“The film is already attracting a great deal of attention from sci-fi fans, action freaks and film-lovers alike, and is already being considered for a potential Hollywood upgrade. The film will debut online on the Youtube Channel ‘The Multiverse’ June 20th.”

            Surprising presents an interview with its director, Johnny Kenton:

Surprising: I am unfamiliar with the cinematographic background to this movie. Could you tell me how you became interested in sci-fi film-making, where you studied it, and where and how you obtained your break, who sponsored it and what the deal was with YouTube?

Kenton: I’ve always been interested in sci-fi. As a writer and a director you ask the question ‘What if…?’  a lot and sci-fi seems to have a lot of interesting and exciting What ifs! My only training in film was a month-long introductory film-making course at the London Film Academy, but where I learnt most about film was making music videos. As a former guitarist I had a lot of friends in bands, so I made videos for them, and it was a great playground to learn and experiment. I got my break when I met Shine Group’s Kate Ward, who was interested in me as a writer and director. She put me in touch with CHANNELFLIP, who run a lot of great YouTube channels.  Channelflip’s Sci-fi channel The Multiverse and YouTube put up the initial money to shoot HEREAFTER.

Surprising: The story is said to be set in the near future. I’m curious about this—the near future of what? Where do you find the materials which are extrapolated in this picture in present-day life?

Kenton: HEREAFTER is set in the near future of a fictional state…and has technology that will be possibly available to us in ten or twenty years’ time, the most prominent of which is “sync”, an Internet in peoples’ heads. When you look at how people’s mobile phones have “become a part of them” to the point where when people lose them they feel a panic at their lack of connection, or at the implications of Google Glass, it’s not too hard to imagine a place where this is possible or how this “syncing” could be used in both exciting and scary ways. The other advances written about in Hereafter are those in genetic engineering. The technology available for this is available now and as you look at the Eugenics plans that some governments have tried to implement in the past, it’s not hard to imagine this technology being abused to form a social hierarchy.

Surprising: I notice a resemblance to the Nazi concentration camps and Russian stalags in this film. Do you have either of these in mind?  Would this be a post-war re-emergence of Nazis?

Kenton: Close…a lot of the world of Hereafter was a re-imagining of what it might have been like if modern and near-future technology had been available in the eastern block totalitarian regimes such as Ceausescu’s Romania. As a small child I was in Germany the Christmas when the Berlin Wall fell and Ceausescu got shot, which I guess triggered an interest in this part of European history. I also had a friend who volunteered in an orphanage in Romania and told me and showed me photos of how the weak, disabled, mentally ill and motherless had just been left in these places.  This haunted me and some of it has bubbled through into HEREAFTER.  Being interested in ethics and having read a lot of Warnock and Singer and all, I also found out about the Eugenics programmes like the one in Sweden in the 60s and 70s. Also some of the social constructs such as the behavior in Lotus Houses (HEREAFTER’s concubines’ pleasure dens) came from reading about Edo-period Japan.  The Rejectors who feature more heavily later on in Hereafter’s story were first triggered by researching the Baader Meinhoff gang. Hereafter’s world is a melting pot of all these things, plus a healthy splash of imagination.

Surprising: Does the film carry a message?

Kenton: Most writing about the future is actually about the present and I guess that HEREAFTER is no exception. I certainly feel like I’ve got a lot to say, but I don’t like storytelling to be too didactic, and so feel that all the statements are better told in the film than I could express in prose here. The themes that Hereafter looks at are the boundaries between state and citizen, the way the technology affects these relationships, female rivalry, and the search for identity.