Last year I somehow tripped over a Kickstarter project raising donations to support a new film, 5th Passenger. This looked interesting and so I read on.
5th Passenger bills itself as...
"an original science fiction horror film featuring cast members from Star Trek, Stargate, and Pan's Labyrinth, an Emmy award-winning crew, and an award-winning screenplay."The synopsis reads:
"Set in 2151, after the Yellowstone Caldera volcano erupts throwing the Earth into chaos, 5th Passenger tells the story of a secretly pregnant female officer and her four man crew adrift in deep space in an escape pod after their transport ship explodes before reaching the new home planet. They fight amongst themselves as they run low on air, but must work together to find a vicious alien hiding aboard their craft before it kills them all."
The screenplay has been penned by Scott Baker and Morgan Lariah. Scott first approached Morgan with the idea in 2012 and they began working together on it soon afterwards. An earlier draft of the script won Best Feature Screenplay, second runner up, at the 2012 Fantastic Planet Film Festival. Morgan explained to me that they were offered the opportunity to film at Space Command Studios, but had a very small window of time in which to do so, thus they decided to go the Kickstarter route to raise the money in order to start filming within that time-frame.
Originally, the Kickstarter was set up to raise $64,000, but the campaign reached that target early and moved on to their stretch target of $77,000. Something only a small percentage of campaigns achieve. When the campaign finished on 08/11/14, it had 797 supporters, each individually pledging anywhere from $1 to $10,000 - yes one person actually did support it for $10,000 - and had raised the impressive total $80,587.
Since then the project has moved on apace, with design, costumes, score and all the pre-production activities completed.
The cast includes Tim Russ, Marina Sirtis, Robert Picardo, Doug Jones, Manu Intiraymi and Hana Hatae. So there is some good talent involved. In case you don't recognise some of these actors, the characters you may associate them with are, respectively, Tuvok (ST:VOY), Deanna Troy(ST:TNG), the EMH Doctor (ST:VOY), Silver Surfer (Rise of the Silver Surfer), Icheb (ST:VOY) and Molly O'Brien (ST:TNG and ST:DS9).
Though the cast may be heavily Star Trek orientated, the universe of 5th Passenger doesn't appear to be. The beset crew are part of the United Galactic Service looking to find a new base on another human-survivable planet. While I wanted to call this an M-class planet, that really is just a Star Trek classification, and so does not apply. (Just for clarification, as far as I can tell, you can get a Class M star, but not an M-class planet.)
Even behind the scenes there are some talents that you might recognise.
Every good space movie has to offer a believable alien, and that often starts with the makeup. Just look at the difference between Alexander Danes's “Dr. Lazarus” makeup in Galaxy Quest to that of Sarris. The 5th Passenger project has secured the services of Thomas E Suprenant, an Emmy award winner, whose credits include Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Music can sometimes go unnoticed in a movie, but it is vital for setting the mood of the piece, and the music for 5th Passenger is being scored by Ramin Kousha. I will admit the only film he's been involved with that I've even heard of is Sharknado, but I’ve not watched it, so I'm prepared not to hold that against the poor boy.
On the 5th Passenger website, there are some images of the interiors of the ship and I have to say, the hexagonal corridors instantly reminded me of one of my favourite shows as a kid: Blake’s 7. But in fairness, these are much less monochrome and oddly, less threatening. Still, I guess there are only so many shapes you can make a corridor and oblong is a bit boring.
Principle photography began on 19th January 2015 and looks like it’s going to be completed in three weeks. That initially seemed quick, but I have a friend whose book has just been filmed and it turns out that for independent movies, that’s not an unusual filming period. Unfortunately due to schedule commitments Robert Picardo has sadly had to withdraw, but Armin Shimerman (Quark from ST:DS9) has joined the project and will doubtless bring his own special feel to the role.
Okay, let’s be honest, there is an echo of another well known film in the blurb, but Alien references are everywhere. Importantly, despite this, I don't believe that this is a derivative, derivatives don't win awards.
From what I've seen I have high hopes that 5th Passenger is going to prove to be a quality original. I’m expecting good SciFi and, with any luck, some hide behind the sofa moments, I’m a firm believer that horror films should have those, otherwise, where’s the horror?
All quotes and image are taken from www.5thPassenger.com, where you can see full details of everything that’s going on as the project progresses. And a personal thank you to Morgan Lariah and Scott Baker for answering my questions and permitting the use of their images.
Gail Williams lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits and pieces are a bit wonderful. Well okay, she lives in Swansea with her husband and daughter. And the world’s most demanding cat. To find out more about Gail, check out www.gailbwilliams.co.uk - Dare you!