Michael Ozias has a science fiction movie he’d like to make. Unlike other folks (like me, for instance) he’s also got a script, a plan and a damned good trailer to back him up.
Last of the Free is the story of two adolescents, Izan and Hana, on a quest to escape the misery of the dystopian future they live in. In an oppressive time, where freedom, innovation, and individuality are non-existent, they live for the society but long for themselves. When Izan learns that Hana will be sacrificed “for the good of all,” he sets forth on a desperate journey to save her, and uncovers a legendary secret. He thought they’d call him a hero. Instead, they call him a heretic. And Izan and Hana, facing execution, must run for their lives.
I’ve been chatting back and forth with Michael “Oz” Ozias about his desire to bring this project to fruition and the work that’s gone in to making his prospectus trailer. From what I know of the story, the man behind it and the gorgeous pictures and trailer you can put my vote in for moving this project forward! The screenplay was a recent finalist in the Poppy Jasper Film Festival and a Semi-Finalist in the SoCal Film Fest.
I love films in general, SciFi films more specifically and I’m coming to really enjoy independent films as well. Not really being immersed in the whole scene though I was wondering about the significance of the festival circuit and prospectus trailers/websites in general. Could something like this get Spielberg to come a-knocking?
Oz: Every yahoo in the tri-state area is running around L.A. with a script. One of those yahoos is me, usually, so it’s all about separating from the herd however that can be done. Accolades help a lot because interested parties know the fests get a ton of submissions and weed through it all. So it saves producers time to just check out the winners. And yes, Steven Spielberg came knocking. But it was the Steven Spielberg that works the FedEx route in my area.
Well if not the Spielberg at least he was a Spielberg. Oz has released his trailer via LastOfTheFree.com At his site you can get some information about the project as well as view the trailer in all it’s glory. In his own words, it certainly sounds like a movie that would appeal to the readers of this site.
Last of the Free explores the universal themes of liberty and heroism. It caters to all film fans, but especially the large markets of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Other films of similar style and theme like 300, V for Vendetta, and Braveheart have been tremendously successful. Last of the Free also shares an audience with other current forms of popular entertainment like graphic novels and video games.
Nice! I had a few questions for Oz about the production of his trailer and the screenplay in general so naturally I asked them. As always with pictures, feel free to click on them for a larger, more desktop wallpaper friendly version.
TC: How did you find yourself writing a SciFi themed screenplay? What brought you into or near to the film industry?
Oz: I write in a lot of genres. But, I was into the idea of a society going back to steam and candles because they are afraid of the ‘ills of technology and free thought’ and then many years later this kid finds a trove of all that ‘ancient’ technology and the apple cart starts to lean. Science Fiction is awesome because you can set up the world however you want it, but wow is it tough to stay consistent! I would get notes like “Steam powered society, eh? Cool. But, why was there a Roomba cleaning the joint on page 9?”
As for arriving in film, it just feels like it was always that way for me. I’m one of legions of present day filmmakers sucked into it all at 4-years-old in a theater watching Star Wars. I remember wanting to be Mark Hamill. Not Luke Skywalker, but Mark Hamill.
I didn’t want to fly off and restore freedom to the galaxy, I wanted to stand on a set with plastic space ships and pretend I’m restoring freedom to the galaxy. So I was dead set on being an actor. A few years later I was watching “The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark” on TV. I vividly remember thinking “Look at that chump slaving away behind the camera in obscurity while all the action and limelight is going on in front of the camera. Who’d want that job? All that guy gets to do is . . .TELL THE STORY!”
It was quite a revelation. Plus, I was a 7-year-old in Michigan and my acting career was going nowhere. I’d landed no starring roles… or bit parts… not even an ‘extra’ gig. Corey Feldman drove by and shouted “You suck!” So, I hung up my actor dreams for the storyteller role and never looked back.
TC: The trailer and site created for this screenplay look great! How long did it take you to create the trailer itself? How long was the process for writing the screenplay?
Oz: Thanks! I really worked on them both for about two years, weaving them in between my day gigs as an editor on TV shows.
TC: It looks like you worked extensively with a green screen environment when creating the trailer. How is this different than filming on a constructed set? Have you ever been tempted to wear all green and appear in some footage as a disembodied, floating head?
As for green screen, it was the intended workflow for the shoot. It was a little backward because normally people shoot the green screen stuff and then vfx guys match their fx to it. But in this case, I had been working with my UK-based compositor, Rhett Podersoo, for over a year on the backgrounds. So, in practice we had to look at those backgrounds and then shoot the actors to work as assets within them. Not typical but it worked fine. I say the green screen was the intended workflow because I was in for a surprise when I shot it. What was advertised as a green screen stage when I booked it turned out to be an industrial shop with a swath of cheap, green fabric store cloth. The whole day long, 110 –degree, no air conditioning exercise was for naught in a sense because the crappy green wasn’t usable. Rhett had to cut out the actors one mouse click at a time just like the 80’s rotoscoping style. I guess tracing hair this way is particularly delightful and Rhett made himself a one-man hooligan riot in his house.
TC: What are your hopes for your screenplay? Obviously you’d love to see it made (and frankly, so would I!) but how would you ideally like to see this accomplished. Independent film? Studio? Are you planning on directing and/or taking any other roles in production
Oz: The plan is to direct it, yeah. That’s always been my dream but you kind of have to write your way there. And, frankly, over time I’ve come to love the writing phase as much as all the rest. So really I’m always hoping that that next thing I write will become the ticket. I spent a lot of time on this one so I’m swinging for the fence.
TC: If the film was done independently, what are your plans for viewing? Would you make any plans on a screening for the general public or wait until you find out how Last of the Free did at various festivals?
Oz: It really all depends on who drops the cash to make it and how their goals mix with mine. It won’t be the cheapest film in the world to make and I’m not exactly a household name. (Though I may change my name to “Tivo”) In the meantime, you do the math and it’s clear that this will have to be an indie with some creativity when it comes to producing a film that looks waaaaaay more expensive than it is.
TC: Who influences you when it comes to film? How about the vast and cluttered genre of Science Fiction as a whole, from print to film?
Oz: Mel Gibson is my favorite filmmaker and I think it’s because his approach is so similar to my own. His attraction to the emotion of the story, his use of slow motion, his milking of the ‘big moments’, and his fearlessness when it comes to cinematic violence are all areas I feel in perfect sync as a filmmaker. Clint Eastwood is another favorite for a lot of the same reasons.
Science Fiction is cluttered but that just forces us to tell better stories and compete harder to win the attention of SF fans. One of my most inspiring moments was a heart to heart conversation I had with Uwe Boll where he said to me “Your filmmaking skills aren’t fit to lick the bottoms of my ‘poop smashing’ boots.” I think he was trying to push me toward greatness and I’m indebted to him for that. (Editors Note: Ewe Boll could not be reached for comment. Or at least, not reached by me).
TC: What did you last have to eat and was it any good?
Oz: Bourbon. It was delicious.
TC: Can you divulge any information on the current status of the screenplay? Any interest? Bites?
Oz: Not yet. But, even though it may sound like I’ve been working on Last of the Free for a long time, I actually feel like I’m at the beginning of the process. I’ve only recently started entering the script in festivals and with only 2 announcing finalists it has made the cut both times. So I’m really just getting started in terms of ‘getting it out there.’ The website and the trailer were labors of love and altogether make the film a pretty sweet package for a savvy investor. My preparation is quite ready to meet some opportunity!
Here’s the trailer for your viewing pleasure – I’d also highly recommend The Last of the Free website.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzJH1e1pGFM]
[tags]scifi, movies, last of the free, oz, independent film,interview[/tags]