What is it that draws someone to making independent science fiction films? Despite declines in the cost of powerful filmmaking tools, creating a visual effects work of art is still time consuming and energy demanding. So, how does an artist commit to actually making good sci-fi on a tiny budget and with a small, perhaps even a one-man crew?
That’s the question we posed to one of Recursor’s featured directors, Raphael Rogers, creator of Beyond and Immersion, as he recently shared his thoughts on indie sci-fi.
Recursor: Hi, Raphael. Great to have you here! Tell us how you got started making science fiction. What drew you to this genre?
Raphael Rogers: I grew up reading a lot of science fiction
and fantasy because my mom’s really into it.
Recursor: You have a cool mom! Tell us about your experience making Beyond, which is a brilliant short film we feature on Recursor.tv?
RR: I did it on my own. I wrote it, filmed it, did the effects on it by myself. And it got a lot of attention.
Recursor: The protagonist, Arya, is a lone survivor who can fold time and space, teleporting through the universe as she searches to find out who she is and where she comes from. We love how Beyond alludes to a much larger world. Did a specific movie, book, or author inspire it?
RR: My inspirations are not really from other movies. I go from my own mindset. Beyond is a pretty interwoven tale, a part of a bigger universe. And my inspiration was around the question, “What can I do?”
Recursor: Tell us about the world you created for your other sci-fi film, Immersion, also featured on Recursor.tv.
RR: Well, the idea of Immersion is that there is a virtual reality system that can physically change the mind of the person who is put into it. Based on the person’s choice, nano-robots in the brain actually alter the person’s mind. It sounds altruistic but the company has other intentions. It’s a technology that’s not far-fetched. Nanotechnology that could go into the brain exists right now.
Recursor: And what was your inspiration for that story?
RR: A lot of my inspiration for Immersion was around bitcoin. It’s an interesting technology. It’s just computer power. Yet the more computer power you have, the more bitcoin you can get.
Recursor: What are the joys and challenges of making indie sci-fi?
RR: The joys — that’s creating. It’s fun to just create something. The challenge is that shorts are very difficult to move (in Hollywood and elsewhere). You do all the effects, and it doesn’t always pay off. No one sees it. That’s hard. But you learn something every time. It all pays off.
Recursor: What are you working on now?
RR: I’m currently writing a feature that’s a sci-fi thriller and trying to get the funding soon. It’s basically a mystery with a little bit of sci-fi in it, something that keeps you guessing. I also have a web series called Dark Matters that just came out on YouTube. It’s kind of sci-fi because there’s hacking in it. It’s following my real life and interesting things I encounter. I’m going to Alaska soon, and that will be fodder for the show.