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Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Exclusive Interview: Kenny Carpenter - Salvaging Outer Space

I posted the trailer for Salvaging Outer Space a while back. The comments posted for it where both positive and negative. I was intrigued by the thing.

Then I got an email from the Kenny Carpenter, the filmmaker behind Salvaging Outer Space. He provided me with lots of information about the making of the film and was also happy to do an interview for the site.

I think it gives some idea as to what goes into making an independent film. Hopefully this will inspire some budding filmmakers out there to go out there and make that film they always wanted to make.

Have a read about the making of the film followed by my interview with Kenny Carpenter, then whack your thoughts in the comments section. If you have seen the film then let people know about it. Now over to Kenny:

With a sci-fi feel like "Startrek The Motion Picture", "A Scanner Darkly", & "Serenity", this stylish feature film combines live acting & anime to deliver a comic-style universe.

It's a film that's unrated, yet very family friendly!

While Captain Laruge (Kevin G. Cooper) & his crew are in search of a valuable salvage in deep space, armed ships appear out of nowhere & attempt to destroy them. Proper teamwork means success or death. However, in space.......trust is a rare find!


This is an independent feature that cost less than $20,000 US to produce, but was all that we had and treated it like a million, considering most Hollywood flicks cost 100M+ to make these days. It was done using HD cameras and live acting via greenscreen and almost all the cast were shot separately, eliminating scheduling issues and any cast switches. This is why greenscreen is awesome to use in filming independent features where no unions are involved to protect all parties involved during principal!

CGI was used for backgrounds and blended with live acting into pseudo cartoon using rotoscope type software, which we had to wait a year to catch up with our editing system's compatibility. All dialogue was captured like interviews, using consistent clip-on mics. While one documentary filmmaker was getting genius praise in magazines for using Cineform's Intermediate codecs to efficiently edit High Definition on PC's, we were already doing the same on an effects heavy scale in 1080 resolution. It was the only way at the time to keep resolution pure without noticeable video compression.

Storywise, when I wrote the movie, I wanted to fill a gap in Sci-Fi that was lost. That 70's into 80's space flick feel went out with all these space marine and horror/scifi one-offs. Many Startrek/Star Wars fanmade films were made, but let's face it...they are simply that! Salvaging Outer Space is original as I could get it, with exception to there being a ship in outer space with a captain and crew, albeit.....very small ship...the size of a large yacht, which it kind of looks like. It begged to be a pieced together look.

I wanted paranoia, mutiny, tragedy, love, friendship, greed, dark comedic humour, long-winded tech talk, advanced technology that could exist in the future even when watching the movie a few years from now, a darker time in a semi-post apocalyptic setting, comic book-style look and feel, sequel possible, classic sci-fi feel, getting personal with the characters, having the audience use character interactions to guage the 3D perspective of the background environment in the ship to get acquainted, good mix of music from symphonic keyboards to progressive rock, and honestly...a way to pull the audience away from their everyday lives altogether.

Making independent films is a tough business just to get produced, let alone making money back with hopes of some profit to share with cast/crew. Making a niche market product, like a science fiction piece, can either totally make or break you, I've come to find out.

Live for Films: Salvaging Outer Space makes the most of modern technology on a limited budget. Apart from the money side of things what was the most challenging aspect of the shoot?

Kenny Carpenter: Making the characters converse smoothly, despite most never met each other on shoots. The acting was mostly monologue style or acting off of me. They were all greenscreened. The other part was keeping all the angles matching between acting and virtual set backgrounds. Keeping everything pure High Definition from start to finish was challenging as the whole movie was done using limited computer resources available during HD's infancy! We also had to cartoonize the cast, which wasn't available in batch renderable software until a year after the initial cut.

LFF: What will you do differently when making your next feature?

KC: I always push the envelope, but part of that is increasing quality in image/sound, story continuity, acting, edit flow, budget constraint and allocation, and more. It's not about doing it differently as much as a continual growth and progression towards meeting Hollywood's set quality standards on budgets that they use for production's toilet paper.
It's most independent's dream to make the best movie with no budget, right??? Imagine what we could do WITH a budget!!!!!

LFF: If you could pass on one piece of advice to a novice film maker what would it be?

KC: Be paranoid to complete your art and maintain your own visions. (mostly for indie filmmaking, not large studio productions) Don't trust everyone with your project. A cast member could lose interest after signing on, a fight between actors could break out and they refuse to work together, or any number of problems and times where you rely on others to help. Unless you are unionized and working on a stronger budget that can support/handle dramas, keep as many aspects under your control as possible! I can't stress or say enough about this topic, but there's no time in this to do it justice. That's why I write, direct, edit, partially score, do visual effects....mostly myself!

LFF: What are your top 5 science fiction films of all time?

KC: Aliens, Star Wars episode III (despite some points), Fifth Element, Startrek II, Jason X.

LFF: Your favourite science fiction novel?

KC: Robot City.... it's a spin-off from the original I Robot novels. It's not edgy enough for theatrical, but I'd love to make it for Direct To Home Video.

LFF: What are your views on the current legal wrangling going on between Fox and Warner Bros over the distribution rights for Zack Snyder's Watchmen film?

KC: I only glanced at the controversy, but if 20th Century Fox had purchased rights to DC in the 80's...it would almost seem a shut case! Everyone involved should have been smart about it from the beginning and checked who owned what! Same as getting your cast/crew to sign proper waivers...you just do it!!! Hey...it keeps the giants at each other's throats and from attacking the little guy for a moment, right?

LFF: To the general public science-fiction is often looked on as something a little geeky, yet big budget science-fiction films are often incredibly successful. Why do you think this is?

KC: When you get cool actors to use cool gadgets with cool special effects and plenty of cool television and print promos tied into everything, the nerd factor goes out the door. We all use computers now, but before...it was strictly nerds and businesses. It's all about peoples' comfort levels and perceptions! Look at the Matrix... get rid of K.Reeves, the sunglasses, fancy clothes and unrealistic karate hype and you are left with a very bleak world that almost resembles a horror movie more than a sci-fi. The oracle belongs in horror genre more than sci-fi anyways...with all those predictions. It's all perception!

LFF: What is your favourite piece of science fiction technology in film or TV?

KC: Definitely the lightsaber as you can rob banks at night in 2 minutes! I wouldn't want to pass gas near a saber, though!

LFF: If money was no object and you could have any actor alive or dead to star in it, what film would you make?

KC: Christopher Walken! He's just badass! What he does with voice and attitude is phenomenal! I'd make any movie I could with him in it, but if I had to choose a role.... supernatural twin brothers, one evil and running half of a post-apocalyptic world, the other an outcast sorcerer gathering a team of powerful misfits to take him down. Cliche in many ways, but a good story and movie experience can be made out of it.

LFF: What was the first film you ever watched? Do you think that it has had any influence on your later work?

KC: You know, I've been watching soooo many movies with my folks as a kid that I don't even remember the first. I will say that Ghostbusters and Return of The Jedi were very important to me as a kid. Special and Visual effects are strong with me.

LFF: Star Wars v Star Trek?/span>

KC: If this were about who'd win, I would say Star Wars...only because the jedi and sith could hyperdrive directly to Earth and the federation, seduce and knock up all the women they could with their mind tricks, and with all the children being born, well...the federation would have to collapse.

LFF: If you were going to be killed by any movie villain or monster who or what would it be? What would your last words be?

KC: 20th Century Fox's Aliens..... I wouldn't have words, as I'd be the victim that gets the inner mouth through the skull!

LFF: If you were Supreme Overlord of the Earth what would your first decree be?

KC: Get me a venti cafe mocha and cancel all 90210 style television programming

LFF: Who would you thank in your Oscar acceptance speech?

KC: I would thank George Lucas for creating and pushing the envelope on great digital tools we all use, despite the competition and segregation that also spun off of it in instances such as Avid versus Adobe. Without his contributions, we'd be completely stuck without visual effects and less chances of independents showing off their talent. Also, science fiction would be more drab without his visions.

LFF: Where and when will we be able to see Salvaging Outer Space?

KC: For the moment, www.Createspace.com is home to DVD sales until Salvaging Outer Space gets picked up by distributors. We may just split rights globally and keep control, but we'll see.

LFF: What is your next film as a director going to be?

KC: It depends on people and money! If I don't get stronger industry or financial connections, it will be a tight science fiction flick that will mostly be photo-realistically done in computer with some chromakey live acting mixed in. There are 2 concepts going in separate directions, but feasible on micro-budget. I would like to be brought into a remake or sequel to low-budget horror or sci-fi of popular 80's titles, personally as a step.

LFF: What film are you most looking forward to seeing in 2009?

KC: I think the Terminator IV film or Transformers II. I love robots destroying robots and things like that! It's one thing to watch a person shoot another person, but to watch high tech things whip out lasers or huge machine guns....hand me some popcorn!

LFF: Thanks very much Kenny. Good luck with the film.

Check out my previous interviews with Neal Asher and Will Stotler and Marc Robert who are the creators behind the zombie movie, Able.

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Paul said...

top interview. id not heard about this film until LFF delivered, as usual. but Jason X man? you dropped points there, but extra points for the lightsaber bank robbery.


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