SC – You have a theme song, made aphysical puppet, retrofitted a 1988 Oldsmobile, and in general you’ve gone so far and above with Moonshot. Why are you so passionate about this project?
ML – I want to have everything that I’ve done at AU inform everything that I’ll do after AU. When I sat down to do this, I’m thinking, what’s the best way to take advantage of the fact that I’m a student?
It became a line that I said, “Oh I’m a filmmaker, I’m doing this great independent short film. We’re super legitimate we’ve got a plan behind us blah blah blah,” trying to talk myself up. Half of it’s that. And the other half is “Pretty please give me a deal.” Graduate school is the only time to make a film at this level and play both of those cards at the same time. Why not try to do the best I could do? Why not do the craziest idea I had? Let me just say yes to that and try. Worst-case scenario, I fail drastically. I fail hilariously and very publicly and it probably wouldn’t even have been the worst thing to happen. It’s still a student film. We do a lot of stuff and hope to get it recognized, but beyond that you know it’s a learning experience for me and everyone involved and I think we did learn a lot making it.
There’s no reason not to. I didn’t spend a lot of money. It has been about passion, to make sure we’re all in it together. To make a movie we’re all proud of and that we want to watch. I find it’s not worth doing something and asking for favors unless the guy at the top of the pyramid seems like he cares, like he actually wants the thing to happen. When it comes to my own project I’m going to be the one who cares the most. And because of that, everyone showed up, took it by the horns and did their best work.
SC – How did you get involved with the Museum Of Science Fiction and what was it like working with them on Moonshot?
ML – I got involved with the museum a couple of years ago. Morgan Gendel who was a writer for Star Trek showed up at AU to do a talk and I went and talked with him afterwards. He was with this guy Greg Viggiano who is the director of the Museum Of Science Fiction. I didn’t know him at all and introduced myself that day. They needed interns so we got lunch and talked about what I was trying to do and that I’d be happy to come volunteer for them, which I have been for two years. Now I’m in a more expanded role, running a film festival for them this summer. Of course, everybody in this organization was on board with any new science fiction and independent art and anything cool in the D.C. community. So I talked to them about Moonshot, and basically they came in and helped me promote and lent a little bit of extra credibility to what I was doing. So that really helped us get going to other people and other local artists and get recognized. They’ve been cool and supportive the whole time. So I’ve been very grateful.
SC – That sounds like a great working relationship. You said the movie looks at a real option for space travel called the non-rocket space launch. Can you tell us about that without spoiling the movie?
ML – It won’t spoil the movie but I’m not sure what kind of authority I am on future space travel technology. As I understand it, and we describe it in the movie very briefly, it’s basically a capsule that goes on a magnetic track and it spins around in a circle and reaches a particular speed and shoots off into space that way. One of the liberties we take is to actually put a person in the capsule. In reality, they’re probably going to be liquefied. It’s too fast and it would be too stressful for them to survive it. So we’re guessing after that technology is created that we’d find a way to get a person in the capsule. So the car in the film is our version of that technology.
SC – That makes sense, it sounds like the opening of Futurama.
ML – Yeah, exactly.
SC – What was it like filming in the Dupont Underground?
ML – It was great. We only shot down there for one day. And when we were in the underground there were a whole slew of challenges. Because there’s not a lot of power down there, we actually had to run a single extension cord down there from above ground from a park ranger station in Dupont Circle. We ran one orange cord down to the underground and that was all of our power. So it was a little rough. But we planned ahead of course and we rented some good DJ lights that last for 20 hours. It gave us some weird colors, which was fun to tip the color palate to something strange and very bright. So we went with these lights which worked pretty well and had a couple of other things to plug in, but it was only a 20 amp circuit and an extremely long extension cord so we couldn’t put a whole lot in there without frying the circuit. That was an adventure but I mean all of down there – making a movie or not – it’s one of the coolest things. It’s a magical place, but it looks like a bomb went off, it’s crazy. That was another really huge get for the film, and I have to credit my production designer. It feels so lived in and broken and run down and perfect.
The whole crew had to have surgical masks to not breathe in dust while we filmed. But it was fun and it energized everyone to be in a place where we were the first to film down there ever. It was fun to do something special. The Underground is going through a pretty big revitalization since we’ve been there. Now they have exhibits and plan to eventually expand to have a full on gallery space down there. It’s just really cool. And to ride a bike through a mile of concrete pitch-black underground trolley track…you don’t get to do that every day.
SC – Last question, are there any other stories you want to tell in this universe? And if not, what’s your next project?
ML – Next project, man I can’t even pretend to think about that right now. Right now the idea is to use this film to expand the story we’re working on, be that in a series or a feature, and get the right people to see it and to develop it into a longer form piece because that’s what it was always meant to be. Telling short stories is fun and all but it doesn’t pack the same punch that longer form stuff does, and we want to make sure that we treat it right. I think we have a cool concept, a cool world, and now it’s not just me talking about the film, it’s something I can show you. We’ve achieved the look, we’ve achieved the world, it feels real, and I hope we can get on the bigger stage and see how far we can take it. As for what’s next, who knows. I’m a sci-fi comedy guy at heart and this is the first time I’ve tried action in a serious way. I think I learned that given the right personnel we can pull it off, and I’m proud of what we did here, and as long as I can keep telling stories I’ll be a happy camper.
Moonshot is written and directed by Matthew Lucas and stars Luvia Peteresen, Benny Elledge, and Jake Guinn with cinematography by Wesley Hunt and executive produced by Sonya Dunn. Check out the film’s site, Facebook, and Twitter for more information and look for it to be in wide release by the end of the year. We’ll keep you updated as the film gets closer to release.