5th Passenger: In Conversation with Morgan Lariah

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Now filming has finished on the 5th Passenger set, Morgan Lariah, co-writer, producer and star of the film, took time out to speak with our own Gail Williams about the progress of the movie.

"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."
Starring Doug Jones, Marina Sirtis, Tim Russ and Armin Shimmerman. Read Gail's previous article about 5th Passenger.


Gail: Hi Morgan. You raised some money for the project via KickStarter where you managed to achieve your stretch goal - kudos on that by the way. How did you find that process? Would you recommend it to other film makers?

Morgan: Thanks for the kudos! I would absolutely recommend raising money on a crowdfunding platform if you have a project you are passionate about as sometimes that is the only way to move forward with it. My personal favourite sites are Kickstarter and Seed&Spark. Kickstarter is great for any and everything and Seed&Spark is solely for independent film - docs, features, and shorts - so they are a little different but both great in their own ways. I have supported many friends in their crowdfunding campaigns but prior to the 5th Passenger campaign, had never done one of my own. Scott [Baker, co-author, director and producer] and I were extremely lucky to have brought on our co-producer and actor, Ryan T. Husk, who has participated in several successful crowdfunding campaigns. Ryan helped us out a lot. The process of running a campaign is very intense. You don’t really have a life when it is happening, as it’s a full-time job in itself. If anyone is seriously considering doing one, I would say make sure you have surrounded yourself with a great team and make sure that your fans know about your project and the upcoming crowdfunding campaign. I was/am extremely humbled by the people who supported us from all over the world and made it possible for us to film this movie. I still talk to many new people I have met while doing the crowdfunding campaign through social media. It’s great.

Did funding 5th Passenger by KickStarter allow you more artistic freedom than a major production company would have? What do you think might have been different if you had gone the production company route?

Yes, we had more artistic freedom. We were only beholden to our own personal expectations and standards and the promise of making the best possible film for our fans. Throughout working on this script with Scott, the very real threat of one of us being replaced to make the film a reality was something that never went away for me. Scott and I are both unknown commodities and therefore we are a risky investment. This is something I understand completely from a business standpoint but I love this script so much that I wasn’t going to let it go. I am really grateful we found a way to film it as we did.


You had a tight filming schedule of just 3 weeks which I'm sure required a lot of careful planning for the shooting script, but all work and no play makes for a dull report, what were your highlights for the lighter side of the shooting?  (I believe there was at least one crew birthday in that time frame)

Yes, filming was intense! I think the entire cast and crew got about three hours of sleep cumulatively during the duration of the shoot :) Prince (our editor, B camera operator, co-producer) had a birthday while we were filming so there was singing and cake. It was really sweet. There was also a lot of joking and playing around as there is on most of the sets I have been on. It’s always a balance between joking around and then focusing and working really hard to make sure we get the next shot.

Did the restricted time in the studio, or indeed any part of the process, kick out any issues that required any changes to script or innovations of shooting?

Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. There were a lot of things that Scott and I wanted but had to alter because we just didn’t have the budget for it. Even when we were writing the script it was something that we kept in mind. That’s the reality. One example of innovation is this: We were really lucky to have Marc and Elaine Zicree of Space Command Studios generously allow us to film on their sets. One of the stipulations though was that we couldn’t alter the sets irrevocably. Even with this and our extremely lean budget, our brilliant Production Designer, Robert E. Poe, came up with some pretty genius ways of dealing with these restrictions while still delivering a top notch set. Some of the white panels on the upper deck of the pod were just taped on and sometimes during filming a panel would come loose and slowly start falling down - it wasn’t a safety issue as they were really lightweight, it was just funny. After we cut camera, someone would have to press the panel back in place until it adhered so we could once again roll camera.


Now for the all important question, when will the film be released?

We hope to have a finished film by the end of this year. After that we will find the best way to distribute the film and get it to our supporters. Please follow us on twitter: @5thPassenger and on facebook: www.facebook.com/5thPassenger to stay updated on all of the news.

Thanks for your time and best of luck with the release.


Gail 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!

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