We chatted with Derek Ting, who recently produced his first science fiction-themed feature Agent, about creating a sci fi thriller, what inspires his work, and more.
RECURSOR: What led you to make an independent science fiction feature?
DEREK TING: I’ve always loved science fiction. It started when I saw Return of the Jedi as a kid (and subsequently all of the other ones). Aliens, Terminator, and Predator are also some of my favorites growing up. I always wanted to make a science fiction movie, but I didn’t want to attempt it until I had more experience making films. Agent is my third feature film.
Tell us about the inspiration behind Agent.
My friend Keith Bro took me and my producing partner, Joyce Yung, to shoot weapons in the desert with our friend, James Seto, who is a gun instructor. As a first timer, it was an exhilarating experience. I thought, what a good premise for a movie: friends out in the desert with guns. From there, though, I did a lot of research on government conspiracies, Area 51, pyramids, Stone Henge, and created one possible scenario for how the pyramids were built.
Agent is ultimately a story about friendship, and how humans might react in different ways to encounters with unknown forces. There are some zombie elements like The Walking Dead, and I mentioned, Aliens and Predator are some of my favorite films. But I would like to think the movie is original in that it makes a completely plausible hypothetical scenario of how we might be invaded. Bear in mind, the feature only scratches the surface as I want to do sequels to further elaborate.
How did you go about financing Agent? What constraints did you work under?
The production budget is $100,000 USD privately financed by executive producers and associate producers — very small for a movie with live action weapons and stunts. Imagine trying to make a commercial film, one which at a minimum gets made for 20 million, and you have .01 percent of that, and you might imagine the struggle the team and I had to go through. If anyone ever said making movies is glamorous, they are mistaken. You have to hustle to achieve your dreams.
How can audiences find and see Agent?
We are currently on Vimeo right now before releasing to major platforms — iTunes, Google Play, Amazon — on March 28, 2017. Cable video on demand and subscription VOD will follow. We love to go to festivals, but I believe going through the circuit takes too long (up to a year), though any invites are welcome during our release. I also believe people prefer to watch movies on their own time, at home on their big screen televisions or even their phones. People want new and organic content, so why not put it online quickly so that anyone, anywhere, can find you?