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Framing an immigration story in a sci-fi movie set in Earth’s distant future might sound like a challenge, but the close bond between the cast and creative mind behind G-LOC made it seem easy (and like appointment viewing for the film itself) today at Comic-Con@Home.
Moderated by SYFY WIRE’s very own Jacob Oller, writer/director Tom Paton gathered around the online campfire with stars Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers), Tala Gouveia (Scream Street), and John Rhys-Davies (the Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings franchises) to reflect on how they made the relatively small-budget space movie full of big ideas — all while making from scratch a believable sci-fi lore-verse that might just have some staying power.
“It’s a really well-written script — and most of the sci-fi I see these days is so badly written, so angst-filled and terminally boring,” said Rhys-Davies, adding that Paton’s layered story of fleeing from loss — all while harboring personal prejudices — rises above conventional science fiction movie tropes.
That’s by design, said Paton, who created G-LOC’s story setting with an eye for deep detail. From inventing a new language to crafting a distinctive physical look and feel of the strange new world of Rhea, it’s all done in the service of grounding its human characters. “I like the idea when you build a fleshed-out world,” explained Paton, adding that seeing human pressures through new eyes lies at the movie’s emotional core. “I can’t tell a story about immigration as an immigrant, because I’m not one. But I can do it by putting myself in their shoes.”
Moyer plays Bran, who’s fleeing Earth (like many others) as the planet becomes increasingly uninhabitable. He’s lost his family, and as he travels to Rhea to seek a new future, it becomes clear he harbors deep grudges against the natives for being collectively responsible.
Complicating matters is an 18-year time lapse that awaits any human who’s arriving on Rhea for the first time. That makes potential enemies for Bran of the planet’s human occupants who all arrived before him — and puts him at odds with Ohsha, Gouveia’s Rhean character, at least at first. “It’s these two characters… who have a very strong idea of what other people are about,” Gouveia said. “They kind of want to just kill each other a lot,” before necessity — and unexpected events (no spoilers!) force them to unite.
“I was just really impressed by the scope of what [Paton] tries to do within one film, which is talk about fatherly and daughterly love, and how far a father will go for the love of his wife who is lost,” said Moyer. “But also peppered in there is prejudice — and in Bran’s mind, the reason his wife has been taken from him is because of the people on this planet… so he’s prejudiced against everybody from Rhea, and he is almost immovable.”
Paton said he incorporated ideas from the actors themselves to add unexpected layers to what began as a more single-minded story. He credited Moyer with adding new dimension to the father-daughter story arc; Van Dien for volunteering his body for a falling stunt that even the stunt double didn’t see coming; and Rhys-Davies with giving a completely impromptu speech near the end of filming that “was way better than anything I could ever write.” It’s a moment, he added, that even brought Paton’s 81-year-old dad near tears when the director shared the movie with his father.
Paton said he’s already got ideas for exploring G-LOC as a new sci-fi franchise, perhaps one that could stretch its legs as an episodic TV series. That, of course, depends on the movie’s success when it debuts next month, but he’s already got a growing compendium of Rhean language and other cultural waystones that the franchise definitely could grow into.
Whether there’s more G-LOC in our sci-fi future, it’s evident that this first film created a definite camaraderie between Paton and the cast. Rhys-Davies even got the panel sidetracked with a hilarious (yet genuinely awesome) home tour of artifacts he’s collected, from a signed stage photo of Victorian actor Sir Henry Irving, to a piece of ancient Egyptian mummy cloth — and for a minute, everyone appeared to forget there was even a panel going on at all. (Scroll to around the 22:40 marker in the panel video above to see what we mean.)
“Filmmaking is such fun,” Rhys-Davies quipped. “I’m a 76 year-old man — and I get to play!”
Named for the loss of consciousness induced by intense g-forces, Lionsgate's G-LOC arrives for Aug. 11 on DVD, digital, and on-demand.
Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of Comic-Con@Home 2020.