Australian cinema is introduced to the alien invasion genre from writer/director Luke Sparke (Red Billabong) in the film Occupation. The film centers around a group of locals that band together during an alien invasion in hopes for survival and eventually fight back. Occupation features an ensemble cast of Dan Ewing, Temuera Morrison, Stephanie Jacobsen, and a plethora of others.
“Australian cinema has never seen an alien invasion movie from their own country…”
Australian cinema has never seen an alien invasion movie from their own country. Sparke reflected, “I grew up in the 1980s, so I got to witness some of the best films ever made including Alien, Predator, Red Dawn, and Back to the Future. I’m a huge fan of all those movies. When I was in L.A. two years ago, I had a genesis of an idea back in my head of an alien invasion in Australia. What would I do, what would my family do, what would my babies do rather than the President of the United States or computer analysts, just the normal people. I pitched it as Independence Day smashed with Red Dawn set in Australia. I started writing it on the plane back to Australia and 8 months later we were shooting the film. The other part of it is that Australia’s cinema has never made an Australian invasion movie. I like to be ahead of the curve out here and do it before anyone else.”
Alien invasion movie sounds like a fun concept, but it often comes with many complications and challenges. “I was able to pull up the contacts from previous action and war films such as Wolverine who worked with me prior. They all came on board and supported me with their explosions, rain machines, and all those effects. Then it was piecing together a team of really talented visual effects artists that could create all the spaceships and all the visual aspects of the film. The visual effects team is based out of South Wales,” expounded the director.
“…wanted to make sure that as much we have all the mayhem of alien invasion…”
Practical production and actual special effects bring a feeling of authenticity and believability. Sparke emphasized, “I didn’t want to go too heavy with the CG because it can come up really badly. I went back and decided to use practical suits for the aliens to make it a bit more real. I believe we made 50 or so. All the explosions, the ships, and the rain are done practically. I did as much as we could in camera to try to capture everything. We used multiple cameras to capture angles and used the same explosion over and over again to make some scenes look much bigger. It all comes down to storyboarding and making sure I knew exactly what I wanted.”
Alien invasion movies usually center around a group of people. “I wanted to make sure that as much we have all the mayhem of alien invasion that the eclectic characters would help the audience get through the film in the smaller moments. There are so many different people we can connect with if don’t like one person, bound to like someone else. It’s great to see that people are connecting with a down and out bum on the street. I find the story fascinating because he goes from living on the street to everyone living on the street and on the run from aliens,” the filmmaker concluded.
“…fascinating because he goes from living on the street to everyone living on the street and on the run from aliens…”
Luke Sparke introduces the world to Australian homegrown alien invasion cinema. Occupation is only made possible from the director jumping ahead of the curve to make Australian’s first alien invasion film, utilizing resources, implementing practical effects and tricks, and casting a wide variety of relatable people. The director is slated and planning for a second installment of the franchise entitled Occupation 2.