Film Life Factory and other financiers from Hollywood, India, Bangladesh and Roswell, NM, have come onboard to finance director Asif Akbar’s science-fictioner ASTRO.
Film, featuring action vet Gary Daniels (The Expendables), as well as Jonathan Lipnicki, Louis Mandylor, Michael Pare, and Eric Roberts, will film in alien territory, Roswell, New Mexico from late November. Shoot also extended to Southeast Asia and Los Angeles.
A modern day original science fiction story of a Billionaire’s private space exploration program returning to earth with an abducted extra-terrestrial being from a newly discovered planet.
Other details of the plot are being kept under wraps until production wraps.
Ensemble also includes Bollywood star Omi Vaidya, Marshal Hilton, Orson Chaplin, Spice Williams-Crosby, Max Wasa, Gianni Capaldi, Luke Crosby, Christopher Showerman, Sean O’Bryan, and Courtney Akbar. Screenplay by Asif Akbar and Bernard Selling.
DFAT: Where did the idea come from, Asif?
Asif: I’ve always been fascinated with space exploration and have always loved science-fiction films, so obviously my curiosity over the whole idea of there being life on other planets have grown with me throughout my life. I’ve always questioned more and more about the whole UFO phenomenon and over the last couple years I have started doing some serious research on the subject and some of the evidence I have come across has inspired me greatly to bring some of the information within the UFO community to light through an entertaining science-fiction story that may not be so far fetched from where our civilization have come today with technology, science and everything that we have going on in our world. I also believe that this subject matter of discovering a new planet with life and other worldly beings is a very serious topic of discussion and belief and it has been throughout our societies for thousands of years and just now through some of our modern day technology’s a lot of evidence of what was once labeled as only science-fiction is becoming for real. I think everyone at some point or another in their lifetime question if there really is life outside of this world and this will most certainly take them on a journey that could give just one slight idea of a possibility. I’m very excited to see how the public reacts to this over all finished film as I’m sure we do have somethings that will be very unique to sci-fi fans that I can not really discuss right now.
DFAT: And how much were films like Close Encounters, The Thing, and Independence Day an inspiration?
Asif: I think those films have some way or another has inspired every film maker around, they all have broken barriers of a new kind for their times with something original. All these great films have at least one great scene that is most memorable and that is my goal with Astro, to make it memorable for generations to come. I believe sci-fi is the most fun genre to work in, because you can be creative any way you like and make it work with a rooted sense of reality, but at the same time it’s a challenge to make it original and entertaining. I believe we have all the required elements in place to serve the audience well with Astro and it’s an honor and privilege to be a filmmaker and having the opportunity to make something original in the sci-fi genre..
DFAT: We’ve yet to see any art or teasers for the film yet. Is that intentional.. or is it simply because the film’s still in pre-production?
Asif: The film is very close to filming and we have intentionally kept some of the art work and concept under wraps until the cameras roll soon.
DFAT: What do you plan on shooting on?
Asif: We plan on shooting on the Arri Alexa.
DFAT: How important is sound to a movie like this?
Asif: Sound is very pivotal to this film, just as much as the visuals. The film will also have an original motion picture soundtrack that will have six original songs and be released world-wide.
DFAT: With the cast, you’ve a very varied mix of actors here. How did you choose them?
Asif: The story required a variety of characters from all walks of life throughout as it deals with our modern society and what could happen if something like this were to happen in our real world today, so to create the believable environment of this world, we needed to incorporate actors that could relate to all sorts of people. I’m very proud and honored to have the cast we have and I think, each and everyone of the actors bring something unique to the film with their talents. I also am very hands on with my casting so it matched up to my original vision pretty accurately, let’s just see what the audience thinks now.
DFAT: You co-wrote the script with Bernard Selling. How does that work – do you pass a script back and forward continually, or does someone do an initial draft and the other do a polish?
Asif: Bernard is a great novelist and have written dozens of novels over the past fifty years, with an extensive background in writing and a great understanding in film. Our partnership is unique because we both come from two completely seperate genereations and cultures that seperate us by decades and it’s great. We have many disagreements at times as much as we agree and that is what works great in my opinion. We can freely bounce off certain ideas off of each other balancing between an older and newer generation conception, which I think helps with connecting to a much larger and wider audience. Bernard and I have worked on a different screenplay in the past, but this is actually the most recent and the one that has been green lit within the shortest amount of time. I originally had written the first rough draft of the story and screenplay of Astro and my goal was to expand the Astro universe into a novel series, so Bernard was the perfect match to partner with on that expansion into the novel series. I’m the film guy and he’s the book guy and it works great as they are two separate mediums of telling this story. After I had completed the first draft, Bernard and I went back and forth with the second and third draft and it’s been a work in progress ever since for the last one year with the actors and all other team members involved.
DFAT: Most filmmakers credit “Star Wars” as the movie that made them get into filmmaking. What about you?
Asif: I would say for sure! Again, Star Wars is a part of the many films that have revolutionised the global film industry and in most cases it’s the science-fiction genre that allows us as film-makers to cross those barriers and break rules successfully, and those are the films that inspire others to try something new. It really excites me to know that we have that opportunity for our modern audiences today. Star Wars has inspired all of us, no doubt… but my goal is to at least inspire one person with Astro, if I know that happened then it will be a great success in itself.