29 10 2011


‘Please forgive me…’

When watching a science fiction movie, I look for elements that inspire my fantasy, entertain my intellect and invoke an intense thought process. For a good sci fi movie script, it’s essential to have action set in space; without it there wouldn’t be science fiction at all. An A-list science fiction movie will also be incomplete without faster-than-light travel (FTL), slipstream or hyperspace engines and subspace. When examining a particular movie in its entirety, I am interested in a hard core futuristic science and technology, artificial intelligence and robotic constructions, and an exploration of human relationship with that technology through a good proper acting. Dialogues containing explanations of processes in starships’ drives, quick fixes to sudden technical problems, system failures and collapses that require the crew’s ultimate performance… I pay attention to the futuristic language and the use of words; it pleases my linguistic brain.

An integral component of a good sci fi movie is an alien presence, an exotic planet or other celestial object, a life form (known or unknown, hostile or friendly) and human emotional and intellectual response to all that. If aliens are sentient, it’s very interesting to discover how humans might interact with them. I am curious to find out whether the movie will establish ethics and norms of social and personal behavior and study human-alien equation. If there’s a conflict around an alien presence, I’d like to learn how humans might work that out in the future.

Absence of aliens doesn’t necessarily make a science fiction film boring or unfit for the genre. Much depends on the time line and a reasonable possibility of the first contact. One might argue that in sci fi, anything goes. With that, I beg to differ. It’s all about connections, reliable and recognizable associations build from blocks of the actual reality, something viewers can draw from, something that causes the blood circulate quicker and the mind sweat harder.  A disaster movie in a futuristic setting with a prediction scenario, serving the role of a drill for the possible development of events in the future, is just as good. A well thought through catastrophe, a planet wide medical emergency or an eminent threat from outer space does it for me.

Of course I want to find out how our future society will change, evolve or degrade, will our attitude to things that matter change as well, will we be a recognizable human species, or will we become monsters we do not want to see in the mirror? I find that and more in a good science fiction movie. Just like Solar Crisis. Take my advice, go back in time and watch how a team of brave hearts saves the Earth. A bit of nostalgia for good old days when science fiction  in the film idustry wasn’t yet completely overtaken by high-tech digital software, fantastic special effects and fine acting will make it worth while.

Copyright Camilla Stein ©2011. All rights reserved.

View Solar Crisis trailer

 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



28 07 2011

Pioneer One


While the actual space exploration is being put on hold, nothing should stop humanity from freely going over possibilities and speculating about the unknown. So far, the Universe is endless and who knows what is out there!

Pioneer One takes on the mission of telling a science fiction story with more than a hint of a government scale conspiracy and a spin off into politics.

When a born on Mars human child falls on Earth and finds himself in a world he had never seen, the challenge is to introduce him into a new reality, find a way of communicating with him and protecting him. But first, there’s a question of his identity that someone needs to answer, and quick. Time is pressing on the team of researchers-the space child is terminally ill.

The series is filmed with an obvious eye for quality. Each episode is composed of accurately acted out scenes that forward the story line with each new minute of production so as not to disappoint the web audience, and we are a spoiled folk, used to high pace and quick action. What stands out while watching is how well coordinated cast and the team behind the scenes is. This can only be achieved with a dedication and passion for the craft, and is such a pleasure to be a witness of.

Learn what plays out when watching this exciting web series on Pioneer One TV

Copyright Camilla Stein ©2011. All rights reserved.

Watch Episode 1-5


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



3 03 2011

Space Battleship Yamato

‘I Will Come Back Alive’


For those of us, the non-Japanese folk, who when asked what we know about Japan were thinking California roll and sushi, now is the time to change that and start thinking Space Battleship Yamato.

Number 1 in the Japanese box office, this sci fi blockbuster hit the screens in December 2010 with everything it’s got and it doesn’t let go! The movie is absolutely a blast and such a fun to watch.

Based largely on the 1974 plot of what is now a cult anime franchise with a 35+ history in Japan, it also contains elements from the anime’s sequels, which in turn don’t spoil an overly amazing impression. It basically feels like a tribute to the Yamato legacy, made into a universally understood and appreciated new product that still has Japanese written all over it, and proudly so.

The story has an old epic at its backbone – a heroic group sets out to save mankind from an unthinkable disaster. Add a little love twist and a few touchy heartfelt scenes, and you have an aspiring space opera, full of action and adventure.

Contrary to the opinion of some critics that the movie does not explore the depth of human emotions but merely brushes over them, Space Battleship Yamato in the view of yours truly does an excellent job in working out conflicts and placing characters in situations of tough choices and heart wrenching decisions. Remember – you are watching a blockbuster, not a soap. Putting forward the intensity of human response to the threat of annihilation, pressure and stress, the movie is all about team work, personal initiative, friendship and comradeship in a very recognizable trademarked Japanese kind of way.

In 2009, when first hearing that Space Battleship Yamato was to be filmed, there came this fear that the movie would repeat the fate of Sayonara Jupiter, where script adaptation by Sakyo Komatsu, the renowned author of the book the movie was based on, failed with flying colors; an otherwise intriguing plot appeared outdated and viewers were unable to connect to what they were seeing on their screens. Luckily so, the script of Space Battleship Yamato defeats that fear. It has been quite well adapted to fit the modern portrayal of the future humans while preserving the original Yamato flavor that was conceived in mid 1970s.

Made with the finest samurai tradition in mind, the movie subtly evokes the theme of a global sense of unity and patriotism, where loyalty and passion always go together, but does it in a unique fashion, with a proper Japanese class and honor. Aiming to channel the best in humanity, nearly every scene here thrills one’s nerves and entertains one’s eyes, calling for a lasting ovation.

Copyright Camilla Stein ©2011. All rights reserved.

View the official Space Battleship Yamato trailer

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