Shane Abbess is a lifelong lover of cinema. This passion for movies drove him to create his first film at the age of 14, and to build a career as a writer and director. In addition to working on various television shows and films, he has written and directed movies such as Gabriel (2007) and Infini (2015). His latest film is the start of an epic space-opera, The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One. With this film now out on DirecTV and to be released for theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on October 6, 2017, I wanted to learn more about this project. Luckily, Abbess allowed me to interview him for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: As a child, what were some movies that you loved watching?
Shane Abbess: First movie I ever saw, or at least remember seeing, was The Dark Crystal in the cinema with my mother. That quickly grew into an obsession that revolved around the staples of that era being Star Wars, ET, Indiana Jones, Superman, and the Benji movies. I also watched Flight of Dragons a gazillion times.
Yanes: Do you feel any of these movies influenced your approach to film making?
Abbess: Definitely. They took me to another world and it felt so real, magical. I couldn’t believe there was so much adventure and excitement and you could just plug in and disappear into it. The realness of it is something I take into every movie by living it on set in the same way I did as an audience when I was a kid.
Yanes: You created your first film at the age of 14. What was the moment in which you knew you wanted to make movies for a living?
Abbess: Growing up, I’d always been one to gather people and tell a tale but after watching Die Hard, I remember wanting to be a part of something exhilarating like that, I didn’t know what job or how, I just wanted to be a part of creating the kind of experience for others that I’d just had.
Yanes: As an Australian, what are some Australian science fiction and fantasy movies you think sci-fi/fantasy fans across the world should know about?
Abbess: There’s not a ton of this kind of local work being done here and obviously everyone knows the juggernauts of Mad Max and cult hero Dark City. My past two films being Gabriel and Infini fall into this family and The Spierig Brothers have always pushed the local bar with Undead, Daybreakers, and Predestination. Other honorable mentions would include Infinite Man, Incident at Raven’s Gate, Terminus…
Yanes: Your latest project is The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One; which you co-wrote and directed. What was the inspiration for this story? Given that it deals with prisoners and colonization, did you intend for this space story to echo Australian history?
Abbess: It’s amazing that you asked that because you’re the first one and the answer is a resounding yes. There are other more obvious ideas and inspirations in there too but we did look at events surrounding the colonization of Australia and other countries and the atrocities committed to the indigenous populations and what kind of cultural dynamic that set up in the decades that followed.
Yanes: The creature design for this film was fantastic. How did you develop the look for the creature? Building on this point, how did the overall look for the film grow?
Abbess: Because this is a much bigger story, the ‘Raggeds’ (creatures in the movie) aren’t anywhere near perfected or fully developed in the story yet, they’re in progress, so we wanted something that had menace but wasn’t a complete killing machine yet. It had to be quite flawed in design, even clumsy at times, so we could show its evolution across later movies. Also, in keeping with the tone of the movie, we also wanted an old school vibe to them that felt 80’s and very practical so there’s ZERO CG (Computer Generated) creatures in the film. This has caused a love/hate response from the audiences depending on what decade they grew up in. The overall look to the film was more simple and classic. We didn’t reference anything specific, just wanted a richness to the world that didn’t feel forced or overtly stylized.
Yanes: ‘Volume One’ is part of the title. How would you like this story to continue?
Abbess: We initially wrote five complete chapters to tell the one big story, this being the first one, and I would hope we get to finish it over time. That said, we live in an era where this kind of movie is nearly, if not already, extinct due to the massive blockbusters and super indie no budget approaches, so it will depend on the support of our audience and our own level of insanity to keep pushing the impossible.
Yanes: Every movie comes with its own set of unique challenges. So how do you think you improved as a creator by working on The Osiris Child?
Abbess: This one required myself and the team to really draw upon our past experience to achieve the otherwise unachievable. This was a ridiculous budget for the scope, an unsupported type of movie in a business sense and we had to really be smart about how we achieved it all. In terms of improvement, my approach to the shooting, being fully immersive, was unwavering thanks to the awakenings we had on Infini and a cast and crew who were all in from the outset. There were no half measures on this.
Yanes: When people finish watching The Osiris Child, what do you hope that they take away from it?
Abbess: I hope they had fun living in a space that doesn’t really exist anymore and although the cynicism of today’s viewing culture is difficult to cut through, it’s been really cool to see people surrender to the naive love this movie presents. We are what we are, when we need to be.
Yanes: Finally, what are some projects you are working on that people can look forward to?
Abbess: I have a feeling that will be announced very shortly, as in the next few weeks.
We are also going back to the Slipstream universe that Infini spawned from at some stage, hopefully soon… and I’m just waiting to get the call from Lucasfilm saying they want me to do the Darth Revan/Malik anthology film. Should be any day now, right? Ha.