Mission to Mars
The brief for this project was "create a 1 minute film about a large scale engineering project." In the list of possible engineering projects our eyes focused in on "first manned mission to Mars." One of the most exciting elements of filmmaking is that with a camera and an idea you can travel anywhere within comprehension. So with our sights set to the sky we started developing a storyline that would work within the criteria given.
Instead of focusing on the tech side of a mission to Mars, we were really interested in exploring the emotional elements that would go into motivating a person to risk so much and go so far. A father and son story quickly emerged and the vision of what this small project could be quickly captivated our imaginations.
We shot the father and son sequence just outside of Gateway with Robert and Dallas. They jumped on the project with little prep time and did an amazing job. As the light began to fade we broke out our LED light bar with some CTB to add in a little fill. We chose to shoot the majority of the film on a shoulder rig to give a kinetic energy to the whole thing and provide quick transition points to cut between the two timelines.
The most time consuming aspect of this project by far was that of costume design and fabrication. Aaron and myself spent several hours a day for about two weeks creating the space suite from scratch. We used left over EVF foam from our Star Wars film to create the air tank and to customize the helmet, which we recycled from the space scene in Cardboard. The design was closely based the suites in Interstellar. After hours of inhaling hot glue and spray paint fumes we finished the suit hours before we were scheduled to film the Mars sequence.
Finding a location to stand in for Mars was a challenge we really relished. One of the amazing things about where we live is that within a 4 hour driving radius you can find extremely different climate and landscape types. After scrubbing through Google Earth we found an area with the colors and topography we were after. Just outside of Graybull WY is an area know as Devil's Kitchen. So we loaded up the cars and road tripped down on a sunny Saturday afternoon. After getting lost of some sketchy Wyoming back roads we finally made it to location. Jumping out of the car and seeing the real place after staring at pictures of it for weeks was exhilarating. The smooth mud and sandstone reminded us of the Goblin Valley in southern Utah. We were blessed with great lighting and were able to get everything we needed before sunset. After a quick bite to eat in a local dinner we hit the road, getting home early the next morning. Huge thanks to Robert and Hillary Hershey and Abigail Barmore for jumping into the adventure on a whim and making it a non-stop party.
After a day of recovery we had only until Tuesday to edit and submit the final film. We reached out to Tom O'Bedlam who had a recording of the poem we wanted to use. As always, he was super gracious and gave us permission to use his amazing vocals on our film.