BACKSTAGE with Author Michael Brachman

5 02 2014

Today on CSReview, Michael Brachman is talking about his novels and his love for the genre of science fiction, and the craft of writing.

CS: Welcome to CSReview, Michael. Why do you write sci-fi?

profileMichael Brachman: For me writing is almost a cross between reading and writing. While I have a general idea of how the story is supposed to go, I cannot tell you how many times the characters surprise me with plot twists or observations that come out of nowhere. I am not a big fan of fantasy because of my scientific background. That leaves science fiction as the only genre where there are literally no limits. So, the simple answer is I love science fiction and writing it is just an extension of that love.

CS: I see we have this one in common. Who would you say is your ideal reader?

Michael Brachman: My ideal reader is one who is looking for some science in their science fiction. I have put in countless hours of meticulous research to make sure that every fact that can be checked will check out. I once spent several hours using an astronomy program which showed the alignment of stars in the future to find the exact right date (January 24th, 2067 AD)  just so I could one character point to the Moon and a particular star was just off to its right.

CS: I can tell you did your homework, your novels are written with a spectacular attention to every detail. Back to your readers, do you have a special message you want to share?

Michael Brachman: I write hard science fiction. No zombie apocalypse or YA vampires for me. If you are looking for action, adventure, romance and even a hint of humor within the confines of hard science fiction, these books are for you.

CS: Hear, hear… Are aliens creepy?

Michael Brachman: Certainly some of the ones I have met in real life are, sure. In my books, I don’t have any little green men yet.  That is coming in the next book. So far my aliens are titanic Dyson spheres which eat stars, “falling blankets” which can suffocate you, Piranha rats and so on. No really intelligent ones, yet. I think when the aliens come (and they will come), the people that encounter will be emotionally ready to handle their differences in form, function and motivation. Not Alien or Predator type creatures, just different from us.

CS: If aliens were to land on Earth today, would they want to stay and why?

Michael Brachman: Sure. If they came all this way, they’d have a reason. Whether it is to meet us or conquer us or eat us or just to study our world, the distance between stars is just so vast that if they went through the effort of coming here, they’d stick around for while. I’m kind of hoping that when it happens, it isn’t the eating or conquering thing.

CS: I have to ask this one – how do you come up with science stuff in your novels?

TAL_CoverMichael Brachman: As I mentioned before, because of my scientific background, I research every bit of speculation until I am satisfied that nobody could prove they weren’t true. I researched and invented two forms of interstellar travel. I quantified “legal” time travel. I invented a lens-less camera. My first novel, Rome’s Revolution, takes place 14 centuries in the future so I wrote computer software to generate a brand new language. I also wrote a computer simulation of two moons orbiting a distant planet just so the characters could look up in the sky and the phases would be right. The stories build themselves and I just make sure the science behind them is sound.

CS: Is there any hope for the human race or are we doomed?

Michael Brachman: There is always hope.

CS: What’s next in store, what are you currently working on?

Michael Brachman: My next novel entitled The Milk Run is already underway.  In a strange way, even though it is science fiction, it sort of has a religious framework.  I also write a Goodreads blog entitled Tales of the Vuduri which is only 14 entries away from a full year, 365 entry, sequence. I must admit I did miss posting one day. As soon as that is done, I am going to package it up as a single volume and sell it for free.  It will be called Tales of the Vuduri: Year One and I should have it ready in about three weeks. Right after that will be The Vuduri Companion which will be a collection of short stories, deleted scenes, some prequel-type stuff and so on that don’t fit in anywhere else. Beyond that, I have two more novels planned.

Oh yeah, the book trailer for my second novel The Ark Lords should being going up on YouTube this week as well.

CS: As a matter of fact, here it is! Michael, thank you for stepping by. Know that we’re enjoying your work and want to see more.

Copyright Camilla Stein ©2014. All rights reserved.




BACKSTAGE

1 07 2011

Gemini Rising (2011)

Gemini Rising poster design by Camilla Stein

Image Courtesy: Gemini Rising. Poster Design by Camilla Stein

Gemini Rising  is an exciting new science fiction action feature film currently in post-production in Hollywood, with a set of complex characters who are being confronted with an extraordinary situation that puts to test their integrity and everything they are.

The story begins when NASA, while on its deep space mission, discovers an alien spacecraft with a barely alive alien inside. The technology is startling and human logic dictates that a chance like that cannot be missed. The spacecraft is brought on Earth, and on a remote Pacific island, in a military installation, some horrific things start happening…

Image Courtesy: Gemini Rising. Production Design: Madla Hruza.

The movie is being produced in an innovative fashion, which was the crew’s concious choice, calling global community of artists to contribute their skills and passion to the project.  Seeking to unravel several mysteries behind its production, Camilla Stein talked to members of the Gemini Rising  crew-Dana Schroeder, film director/producer at Pathfinder Productions, and Dave Vescio, actor playing a malicious MD in Gemini Rising.

CS: Welcome to Camilla Stein Review, Dana and Dave. It’s great having you two share about your awesome work on Gemini Rising. Some aspects of the movie have been kept under a tight lid, which is understandable. Perhaps you could shed a little more light onto what has been done so far and what is being planned. Dana, you worked in different genres, from drama to comedy. Gemini Rising is your recent science fiction project. Given the movie’s objectives, what was the most demanding part to film?

Dana Schoeder: Probably the greatest challenge of film making is taking a vision and getting it into the “can”. We spend 12 to 14 hour days, working with diverse crew of production design, camera and lighting departments to collaboratively create scenes that will speak to the visual message we wish to send to the audience. It sometimes feels like organized chaos, but when the shot works, it’s like magic. I think any genre of film making suffers the same challenges, but sci-fi adds the complexity of an actor creating relationship and reaction to a green screen, where a visual effects element will be added later.

CS: What makes Gemini Rising unique? Do you stay consistent with the canon of the genre here, or do you experiment with new forms of expression?

Dana Schroeder: I think every genre has a core demographic of committed followers, like horror, sci-fi, action, comedy, romantic dramas, etc. Take Blade Runner, for instance, a core sci-fi demographic, then add an action element, strong dramatic theme, a romantic subplot, and it creates an expanded demographic and larger audience. So, to answer your question, I built the plot to fulfill the canon of the demographic sci-fi audience, and then added elements of stronger character arcs with very capable actors, action sequences, and even a romantic subplot to create more layers to the story. Hopefully that will make it more interesting to a larger audience.

CS: Your approach sounds very involving indeed, no doubt the result will be absolutely worthy. Gemini Rising has a great cast. If you could describe working on the set in one word, what would it be?

Dana Schroeder: Challenging.

CS: That says a lot. What’s the most memorable thing that happened during shooting? Most funny?

Dana Schroeder: John Savage, singing opera backstage… Lance Henriksen in character on and off camera, chomping on his cigar and being the Alpha leader of his band of elite marines, Brian Krause being a bubbly boyish jokester, then hitting his mark with outstanding professionalism when the cameras rolled, Amy Hathaway’s intense determination on and off camera especially when she was beating on the stunt performers, Dave Vescio’s method style as he evolved into the twisted, brilliant and socially inept chief scientist.

CS: Gemini Rising has a most intriguing plot. Knowing that in action movies the story often risks getting overshadowed by the action, how does Gemini Rising deal with this side effect?

Dana Schroeder: I think a plot should evolve like a roller coaster ride. There should be moments of hard pounding action, intrigue teetering on horror, touching romantic interplay, intense drama, etc. If this all works, we give the audience a great ride.

CS: There’s no science fiction without an extraterrestrial element. How much of the human-alien interaction can we expect in Gemini Rising?

Dana Schroeder: There are touching moments. There are terrifying moments. There are intense action moments.

CS: When having aliens on the set, what’s the biggest challenge? Say, a communication problem, or do they tend to dictate their terms and undermine the authority of an Earthling? That last one is a joke. Seriously though, we’ve seen these very cute alien model-hands and are eager to discover what Gemini Rising aliens are like. Are they evil or benign, or are they controversial and are here to stay?

Dana Schroeder: Time will tell. That is part of the ride the audience will experience.

CS: Sounds like you are preparing quite a surprise. Speaking of software, Blender has been chosen for this production. How would you evaluate your experience with this program? Are you planning on using it again for your future projects?

Dana Schroeder: So far, the progress is working out well. We have artists participating from around the world, France, Germany, England, Spain, Eastern Europe, USA, Asia, and the Middle East. We use Blender as the main modeling software, giving all of the participants a way to collaborate with one another. We have 300 blender artists signed up on the web site, over 25,000 views to date, over a 1000 submissions, between 50-100 posts to the site every day. This is definitely a paradigm shift from the normal way of putting visual effects into movies. As far as I know, this has never been done this way before. Will I use this approach again? Darn right!

CS: That’s an incredible pioneer thing you’ve got going there! Thank you for lifting up the veil of secrecy around such an awesome movie project, Dana. Wishing you all the luck with Gemini Rising post-production work and release.

Dave Vescio was cast as Gemini Rising main antagonist. Dave, you have an impressive record of roles and a most intriguing trademark, exploring dark side of human nature. Let’s talk about your villain in Gemini Rising, Dr. Bainbridge. Who is he?

Dave Vescio: Thank you! Well, my character Dr. Brainbridge is one of the top medical scientists in the world (and was actually bred this way by his father), and he’s currently working on a secret military base in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for the U.S. government. And his mission is to figure out how to control combat soldiers telepathically, to create ‘the perfect soldier’.

CS: You’ve previously stated in your interviews that your purpose in portraying bad guys is to create a real-life experience for viewers, a documentary-like effect. How does that reflect on your playing Dr. Bainbridge?

Dave Vescio: Wow, that’s a good question. Well, my goal as an actor is to become my characters for real. And to bring in as many elements of Dave Vescio into these characters as I humanly can, but, at the same time, be the characters as well. And Dr. Bainbridge is an anti-social, tortured, sex driven scientist, which is definitely not me in anyway. I had to do certain things to myself to make this happen for real on set, such as being anti-social towards certain actors on set, causing real life pain to myself (so I can feel tortured in certain scenes), and to seeing women as sex objects because I’m driven to have sex with them and that’s it. Basically, this guy is morally incorrect in so many ways, so I had to make myself morally incorrect as well.

CS: Playing that sounds like quite a challenge. So, how bad your bad guy in Gemini Rising really is? Does he follow a certain code of conduct, or is he a ‘go for it at all costs’ kind of a persona?

Dave Vescio: Let’s say that he has no quam killing another human being. He likes to have sex with a comatose woman (actress Cortney Palm). And he has no regard for anyone’s personal space at all. Basically, he’ll do whatever he has to do, to get what he wants in life. But, the reason he does this screwed up stuff is because he was tortured as a young child by his own father. His father was Dr. Bainbridge back in the day, and he would use his son as a guinea pig in all his scientific studies. So, basically, my character was injected with LSD, electrocuted, and pushed to the limits physically, mentally, and definitely emotionally as a child. That’s why he is who he is.

CS: That is quite horrible! Playing such a complex and dark individual with such a painful history is not a walk in the park. When you first read the script for Gemini Rising, what was your initial impression? Did you know right away that you could do it, be this character?

Dave Vescio: I actually don’t think that I can do any character justice when I first read the script. That’s why I became an actor in the first place, because this stuff really scares the grass out of me. But, I was trained to break down a script and really figure out why this character says what he says and does what he does to the other characters in the story. That’s when the fun stuff begins and I start seeing who these guys are by repeating the dialogue over and over again, and figuring out why they’re saying this or that versus anything else. Plus I’ll do my own research on the side and find out how the other actors will play their scenes as well, and I’ll also talk to the director about the character (if the director likes to direct), and then see what actually happens while we are on set. It’s always a process, which is one of the reasons why I love to act!

CS: While practicing the secrets of your craft and doing all that hard work to make things happen on screen, what in Dr. Bainbridge can you mostly relate to, and what not?

Dave Vescio: I’m not anti-social in anyway. I definitely don’t like to have sex with comatose women; that’s for sure. And I’m not some of Dr. Bainbridge’s other traits as well. For everything else I have a real life sense memory to play off of. As for the anti-social aspect, getting sexually aroused by a comatose woman and so on, I just had to figure out how to do all of that stuff either at home or on set.

CS: There’s a brilliant, in my opinion, torture scene where you are left at the mercy of Colonel Stephen Cencula (Lance Henriksen). It’s been said that doing horror scenes always causes lots of excitement for actors and the entire crew. How would you describe working with Lance and doing this particular act?

Dave Vescio: This scene was a lot of fun. When it comes to doing my own stunts, I’m always the first one in, thinking how to make it look as real as possible; basically doing it for real. I pretty much told the stunt guys that I was working with to just do whatever they had to do to get me down into that medical chair and to strap me down, because I was going to fight them all the way. And when it came time for me to be in horrible pain, I was actually causing myself pain on set as well, to the point, where I was crying for real. As you said before I really do like to make my acting performances look as realistic as possible. That’s what I’m always trying to do on set, making it look and feel like real life. And Lance was great! He’s a pro. And I definitely learned a lot from him.

CS:The alien hands animation I’ve seen is so much fun. In its form before the final wrap-up it seems a bit inconsistent with the perhaps intended image of a creepy alien attached to these hands. Many shots for this movie are done against the green screen. While working on Gemini Rising, what presented the biggest challenge? Did you have any difficulties applying your imagination, placing yourself in the setting?

Dave Vescio: Yes and no. Imagining something is there when it isn’t is really hard for me. But I know some tricks of the trade to making it seem real, like placing a real-life human being in front of me when I’m talking to an imaginary object. That way I’m actually talking to someone. And then, when the camera angle has to show my character as well as the alien one, which is in reality a green screen, I just have a human being stand on the edges of the camera frame. That way I’m still talking to someone even though you don’t see them in the camera shot at all.

CS: That was a very impressive walk through the set, Dave. Thank you for talking to CSReview. It was great having you.

Dave Vescio: And thank you as well, Camilla. I totally had fun!

Trailer Gemini Rising is out! Click here

Courtesy Gemini Rising.

Copyright Camilla Stein ©2011. All rights reserved.

 C A M I L L A  S T E I N  S C I E N C E  F I C T I O N


				




FILM

10 06 2011

District 9

Get your fokkin’ tentacle out of my face!

Not long ago my friends and I sat down to talk about all things Star Trek, and in a spin off we came to all things science fiction and a search for something deep in modern day sci-fi, something meaningful.

I thought for a while and suggested if they sought material to really touch their souls, they’d better watch District 9. Here’s why.

The movie is a South African production which in itself already tells you to expect a surprise. During the very first minutes the film fools you with a documentary-like footage of personal reflections about some dude named Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley); you are guessing something’s gone terribly wrong, he’s their colleague and he’s done something bad.

You hear people say stuff, observe their facial expressions and body language filled with caution not to say a word inappropriately or give out an uncalled for impression, filled with shock; and slowly but steadily you are being led on to the heart of the story. You hear words that make you think about something you don’t want to think about. It’s called apartheid.

Turns out, there’s been an alien landing in their area, and the way the authorities mishandled first contact, invited an interplanetary nightmare. The site becomes a closely watched settlement on lock down, a ghetto.

The film isn’t shy about some horrible stuff that goes down in the reservation, showing who’s doing what and for what reasons.

Aliens are called ‘prawns’ in the movie. They can’t go back to their home world now. They need to fix their spacecraft and they seem to have given up, but there’s one of them still holding on to that dream. Watch the movie to find out what happens to his endeavor once Wikus comes into the picture, and what then happens to Wikus…

The movie explores the dark side of humanity, the complexity of human nature, reflects upon painful parts of our own recent history by projecting events the way it can only be done in the genre of science fiction.

Compliments to the movie crew directed by Neill Blomkamp – excellent acting is well embroidered into the canvas of the setting, paired with highly expressive laconic speech worth quoting, accompanied by fantastic high tech arrangement with state of the art aliens and shot from a rather chilling perspective.

District 9, the movie you won’t forget.

Copyright Camilla Stein ©2011. All rights reserved.

Watch District 9 trailer here








%d bloggers like this: