How to Make an Epic Movie on a Shoestring

BACKGROUND~
SCI FI SOL is adapted from the album of the same name produced in 2003 in Amsterdam by indie electro-pop wunderkind MELODY NIFE.

Originally conceiveLuv Ur Shade TRAX ICONd as a soundtrack for an imaginary science fiction epic, SCI FI SOL (The Movie) was a dream nearly abandoned before MELODY NIFE met underground moviemaker JOSEPH R LEWIS while they were both touring the United States performing educational theatre for schoolchildren.

JRL & MN began a close friendship and occupied idle times by discussing what a possible SCI FI SOL movie adaptation may look like.  After many years of daydreaming, they agreed to undertake the mission of creating “the most epic no-budget science fiction fantasy of all time.”

SCI FI SOL was shot as a silent movie and uses the original album of music, played from beginning to end, as the entirety of the movie’s soundscape.  It is being released online for free as a music video adventure series and you can watch it RIGHT HERE wheneva U  want.  Trailer below:

NOTES FROM JRL~
“Getting Loaded” is my fave song on the album.  I think it’s one of Melody Nife’s very best tunes, and out of a catalog of hundreds – that’s something.  I’d always thought it had an eerie anthemic quality, like good Pink Floyd.  When we went into production, I reserved it a special place in my heart and my mind.

QUEEN B XOXWriting sessions usually consisted of Nife talking, me listening, and then me saying back to him what I heard.  He often disagreed with what I had to say.  In this way we were able to quickly discern our disparate ways of thinking and conceptualizing material.  I would take the ideas we dished about and write out sections of the screenplay and send them to him and we would argue and then I’d rewrite and then we’d argue less and eventually we weren’t arguing anymore.  Time-wise the writing process went pretty quick, maybe 5 months from start finish- But we went through more drafts than any script I had ever written before.

For instance:
Nife kept talking about these images for “Getting Loaded”:  students rising from their desks and walking out of class, empty offices like deserted ruins,  throngs of people spilling out into the streets and heading toward the beach.

Since the goal was to make an epic sci-fi movie without money, I would mull over the images Nife suggested and distill them down to their emotional content.  And then I’d just wait until I thought of something that would 1) express the same emotion 2) fit in the world 3) be possible.Emily Tunnel

For me, the song was about needing to separate from the world that is, and pursuing a world that could be.  Freedom, I guess.  Since we couldn’t do big crowd stuff or expansive exteriors due to our resources,  I thought it would be a good idea to magnify our focus and show scenes of individuals experiencing this captivity.  This was how I usually side-stepped the “problem” of not having much to work with:  Instead of shrinking the idea down I would magnify the focus and give my performers the responsibility  of creating the feeling of bigness and epic-itude that I needed.

Babydoll TRAX ICONI didn’t storyboard SCI FI SOL as I did with SCUMBABIES.  Each movie existed in a fantasy world, but instead of a single location SCI FI SOL took place throughout a whole CITY!   I knew that the bigness we wanted to pull off would require a completely different kind of shooting style, where my eyes would need to be WIDE open on set and always hunting for found material and the right kind of in-the-moment image that would hopefully make the movie feel like bigger than it really was.

For this reason “Getting Loaded” was particularly fun to shoot.  We shot the entire video in a single day in a single huge room.  The scenes and the images built themselves up piece by piece, and I never had any idea what it was going to look like until the cameras were rolling.

XOXJRL

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