One strength of science fiction is its capacity to ask hard questions about the world we live in and offer new ways of thinking about them. We chatted with husband and wife team, Vincent Tran and Riyaana Hartley, about their indie sci fi think piece, One Under the Sun.
RECURSOR: Tell us about the concept behind One Under the Sun. What’s it about?
VINCENT TRAN (VT): We wanted to propose an idea — what would it take to have a day without war? The world is so complicated and so layered that people can’t imagine it. They think it’s too difficult. We wanted to make a film that could explore that possibility.
What do you hope audiences will take away from your film?
VT: Our main mission was to make people feel a sense of wonder and community and really see that our home is very small. At the end, (we hope) people walk out feeling, why are we at war? Why do we think that we’re divided countries or that we’re separated by politics or religion?
One Under the Sun has a female protagonist in a prophet-like role. What inspired that approach?
RIYAANA HARTLEY (RH): There are so many stories that begin with a man and his journey to either save others or combat against someone. This is a story about a very strong woman, an astronaut named Kathryn Voss. The responsibility of saving humanity lies on her shoulders, not the shoulders of a man. Yet she’s still a woman, still a mother, still human and fallible. I think our approach is timely because we’re at this point where we can no longer repeat what we’ve done in the past. It’s truly time for us to start thinking differently. it’s time for us to start making different choices. And for us as filmmakers, we have a responsibility to start telling different stories.
The movie’s storyline was born, in part, out of the Higgs-Boson discovery. Can you explain how that came about?
VT: I was trying to find a common human bond between every human being around the world. The Higgs-Boson discovery popped up in my mind. Not only is this (particle) real and it exists, but it’s in everything — from our own home planet to the most distant star in the galaxy. Metaphorically, our protagonist Kathryn Voss is the embodiment of the Higgs-Boson particle and what it represents.
What was it like to create a film with depth, yet still work within an indie budget?
RH: When your budget is not only finite but very limited, the very early stage of prioritization is crucial. You can’t always have everything that you want. There were certain things we knew we had to safeguard for the quality of the final product, certain things that you can’t skimp on. The performances by the cast, the preparation that went into all of our locations and sets, the music and the sound, and the script itself — I think all of these came together. A lot of people are very surprised to know that this is a low budget indie film. We’re really grateful for the results.
What is it about science fiction that appeals to you as a genre?
VT: Science fiction is one of the only genres that explores diversity without explanation. Star Trek is a great example. You can have different people of different colors, different races, different alien races, without questioning it. And that’s how science fiction elevates above many other genres.
RH: I think science fiction is an amazing genre to work in because there are almost no limitations. This is a genre that’s very close to our hearts. It’s a space where you can present nontraditional heroes, and I love that.
What’s up next for you?
RH: We are heading to the Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai in April. People come from all over the Middle East and Southeast Asia to attend this event. The atmosphere is so supportive of anyone who is in the creative field. There’s an incredible lineup of guests and speakers
We can’t resist asking… What do you think of Recursor.tv?
RH: The website is fantastic! It looks great, and the content looks really great. It looks like a really nice hub for the indie sci fi community!
You can check out the trailer for One Under the Sun here.