Interview by Martin
The upcoming alien invasion movie Occupation looks fantastic! Featuring an awesome cast including Temuera Morrison (Star Wars, Once Were Warriors), Dan Ewing (Home and Away) and Stephanie Jacobsen (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Battlestar Galactica: Razor) and others, it opens in Australia on July 12 and in the US on July 20. Normally we don’t do stories on movies here at Games vs Play, but after meeting writer and director Luke Sparke and the cast at this year’s Oz Comic-Con in Melbourne (pictured left – that’s Luke in the middle in the Rebel Alliance jumper and cap), we just had to find out more about the movie. We recently caught up with Luke, who told us about his influences in writing Occupation and why he thinks Australians would do just as good a job at fighting back against aliens as Bill Pullman.
Games vs Play: Hi Luke, thanks so much for talking with us on Games vs Play. Congratulations on making Occupation – the trailer looks absolutely brilliant, and I’m very excited that a film of this calibre is being made in Australia. Maybe we can start by telling us a little about what Occupation is about?
Luke Sparke: Occupation tells an end-of-the-world story through the lives of a small group who are living very different lives. Throwing all these people together might not work …. Then again, it might. I’m drawn to themes about family and the ability to try and work together – I’m an optimist at heart! It’s also a ‘first contact’ war. But there are many themes scattered throughout the film which I would rather let the audience see what they want to see. The best art is subjective.
GvP: Yeah, we don’t want to give out any spoilers! So, how did the journey begin that led to the making of Occupation?
Luke: The idea developed quite quickly. While my first film was hitting screens, we were working on what to do next. I’ve got a slate of projects I intend to get through, but they are all quite large-scale films. I had this only as a very brief, basically one-line pitch where I said, “Take X film and Y film and mix them together. We can make it for X amount,” and the response was pretty infectious.
Luke: Being a kid of the ’80s I grew up with the best ‘fantastical’ stories put on screen, from Star Wars to The Goonies and Predator. It was a great decade for storytelling. So, whenever I think of a new project, my mind instantly goes to my childhood. I’ve also had a fondness for invasion films, with Red Dawn (the original) and Independence Day being my top shelf favourites. I’ve often day dreamed of what I would do if a full-scale invasion came out of the blue. So, this felt like a perfect opportunity to blend my ideas together as a starting point.
GvP: Occupation is set in Australia and features (mostly) Australian characters. Can you tell us a little about why you decided to set the film here?
Luke: I think the ‘Aussie spirit’ is really strong throughout this film. You could never really imagine an Australian Prime Minister climbing into a fighter jet to save the world – but a couple of mates from down the road? I think they would have a crack! For me it’s the fact of being proud to tell a huge story with the back drop of my home. James Bond is still overtly English, Indiana Jones – American. There’s no reason that Australian’s can’t take the world stage.
GvP: What do you think makes Occupation different from other movies about alien invasion?
Luke: I think its’s bringing down to a ground level with ordinary people and following their struggle to survive. It’s not soldiers, or presidents. The film is about family. I’ve also ended it on a different note to the usual invasion films, and I think that will be a talking point one way or another.
GvP: That sounds intriguing, and mysterious! Now I can’t wait to find out how the movie ends. I really don’t want to start the next question with “For an Australian film -” but … For an Australian film, what were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while making Occupation?
Luke: Time. Money. Take your pick. Always up against it. We’re completely independent so everything was a challenge. We’re also testing a whole new way to make and market films in Australia. So if this works, it could open a new world of possibilities.
GvP: Can you tell us one of the most memorable moments from on set?
Luke: Shooting for the week at Murwillumbah at the show grounds and blowing it to hell. It was a tough week to get all my storyboards done, but everyone pulled it together and we got everything intended I think. It was great to see hundreds of locals come out and support the film, being extras and crew. A very fun week.
GvP: The invasion scenes in the trailer set during the football match in Murwillumbah do look fantastic. Finally, will there be an Occupation 2? And what other plans do you have for future projects?
Luke: Yes, there will be an Occupation 2. We are in pre production now. As with most sequels, it promises to be bigger than the first. Akin it to ‘Empire’ if Occupation was ‘Hope’. It’s very fun to create a whole new world and continue to play in it. It’s probably the most exciting project I’ve worked on, and I’m looking forward to revealing more. I hope Australians seek out and support Occupation from July 12th!
Occupation opens in Australia on Thursday 12 July and in the US on Friday 20 July. Check out the Occupation website for more details on this awesome-looking film.
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