Short film sees indigenous cast take on aliens

David Page gets probed. Photo: Supplied Crashing down to earth: special effects were crowdsourced for Kindred. Photo: Supplied

David Page gets probed. Photo: Supplied

David Page gets probed. Photo: Supplied

David Page gets probed. Photo: Supplied

Somewhere in the bush, three indigenous Australians are having an argument about belief – the young man is cynical, the young woman is not, an older man plays peacemaker. Tempers flare under a sky of spectacular stars and then… all three are suddenly abducted by aliens.

Thus opens producer and writer Josh Bryer’s short film Kindred, a passion project for the Cape Town-born, Sydney-based ad man that he and his fellow filmmakers say is the first sci-fi film to star an all-indigenous cast. “It’s about the world’s oldest culture and this advanced alien race – the clash of those two worlds,” says Bryer. “When worlds collide, that’s when beliefs really get shaken up.”

There are big ideas packed into the small story, but first-time filmmaker Bryer left plenty of room for fan-pleasing sci-fi thrills: his seven-minute film follows the trio into space and, while we won’t give too much away, there is blood and little green men and a tentacle-like technology the on-set crew called “worms”.

It was a labour of love, with the emphasis on labour, for Bryer, who fell for the sci-fi genre after seeing Star Wars with his dad when he was four. Bryer took three months to write his seven-page script, which he then filmed over a night in the Blue Mountains and several days on a spaceship set in a Marrickville warehouse. It took Bryer and helpers six weeks to build the set, working under a tin roof in summer.

When he finalised an edit, things got really tough. Having crowdfunded $22,000 through Indiegogo – combining the loot with his own money (having taken out a mortgage) and funds from an investor – Bryer turned to a similar model for the film’s numerous special effects. He put ads on websites The Loop and Creative Cow, asking for unpaid help, and people responded from Italy, America, Brazil and elsewhere.

For 18 months he co-ordinated the post-production process, sending scenes to one effects house, waiting for the work to be done, then sending the same scene on to another in a different part of the world – a worm would be added here, a bit of a man’s skull removed there. “I coordinated them all,” he says, “and it drove me mad.”

The film screened at the Chauvel in July, and Bryer is sending it out to some 40 festivals hoping for inclusion. He has a major drawcard in his cast, which includes Redfern Now’s Damion Hunter and Bangarra composer and well-known performer David Page.

“We saw the aliens long before you mob came to Australia,” says Page with a laugh, adding that he decided to join the project because “I thought, I’m getting old – I’m 50 – why not do sci-fi?”

“It was so much fun shooting this thing. You got to hang out with cool people, crazy nerdy people making sets… turning young blonde short girls into aliens.”

Bryer hopes to use the short as a pitching tool for a feature. The script, already written, brings the action back to Earth.

“I’m shopping it around, and hopefully we can get a big studio interested,” he says. But he has no intentions of directing it himself. “I spent two and a half years on nine minutes, I don’t want to know what 90 minutes is like.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.