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Afterglow: What happens after we defeat alien invaders? (Sci-Fi Short and Interview)

Afterglow (2009) is a science fiction short film written and directed by Andres Anglade. It is a story told by a militia officer reporting to his superiors about an incident during his alien patrol. In this world, humanity has repulsed an alien invasion, but it’s still possible part of the enemy remains on Earth. The officer’s job is to find them.

Afterglow has been shown at several film festivals and San Diego Comic-Con, and won the 2009 Director’s Choice for Short Film Category at the Rincón International Film Festival in Puerto Rico. This is director Anglade’s first professional film.

Andres Anglade is of Puerto Rican and German heritage, and currently resides in California. I had the opportunity of interviewing Anglade which was fun because he’s very much “one of us.” He loves science fiction and telling stories through a visual medium. We talked about the short, where he got his inspiration and his work on Battlestar Galactica and NBC’s Community.

Where did you get the idea for Afterglow?
The basic idea came from one simple question “What would happen if an alien invasion happened right now?” What would you do? How would you act? That’s essentially the genesis of the story behind the film. But what I really wanted to explore was how people dealt with an alien invasion after the invasion. They invaded. We won. What comes next?

So Afterglow is from a “common person” point of view instead of the major players?
Yes, exactly. I’ve always been a fan of seeing how “regular” people react to large scale events. I’m also a fan of not showing the big event, but letting people’s imaginations run wild and let them envision what may have happened.

What type of science fiction inspires you?
I’m inspired by a lot of [genre films where] there are moments that you forget they’re science fiction. One of my all time favorite sci-fi films is the original The Day The Earth Stood Still. And with that film, sure you have the classic flying saucer landing on Earth, but the exploration of people’s emotions and reactions to it is so well done. That film holds up today and I always tell people to watch it. A more recent film that explores a new world [that] way was Children Of Men. It was able to explore individual lives in and around much larger issues.
Don’t get me wrong, though, the little kid in me still loves to see the action spectacle and will go see films where stuff blows up, but the ones that inspire me also touch upon the relationships we have. The Abyss is my favorite sci-fi film, and again it has moments where you forget you’re watching a sci-fi film. But the action is spectacular and [director James] Cameron makes us really care about the characters.

Andres Anglade at the Science Fiction Museum

In Afterglow, people are highly suspicious of each other after they defeat the aliens. Is Afterglow an allegory of how we treat others in a post 9/11 world?
We do now live in a world of suspicion and that was definitely a theme I wanted to explore. But again, the most important things for me were the characters. I wasn’t trying to touch upon the issue of torture; it was more of trying to explore the most horrific way someone could just snap after a tragic event.

How did you finance Afterglow?
For financing, I saved up money, and Executive Producer Melissa Scotti helped raise around $3000, which was awesome. And all of that combined was still not enough, so the rest went on credit cards. The final budget for the film ended up being around $12,000. But I also called in a lot of favors. That’s what’s great about being around a film-loving/making community of friends. We all like to help each other out.

Does Afterglow have a future (part two)?
I wrote a few scripts for a webseries and pitched it around, but nothing ever happened. I’m glad it didn’t work out, because looking back at them, the scripts need work. I’ve tried several times to turn it into a feature, which I still want to do, but I have to find the right story to tell. There are so many to tell in that world and I want the right one. I don’t want to settle.

How was winning the Rincón award in Puerto Rico?
It was such a great festival. Doug Lantz [Festival & Programming Director] and everyone involved were so accommodating and generous. Winning the award was surprising and unexpected. Unfortunately I left the day of the awards ceremony, so they gave me an impromptu ceremony out at dinner the night before. It was great!

Tell us about the work you did for the Battlestar Galactica shorts and NBC’s Community. Were you a fan of these shows before you worked on them?
I worked at a company that did all the special features for the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of BSG. Those two special features [Cylons – The Twelve and The Journey] were something that was kind of thrown at me by the producer with an impossible schedule. We managed to turn those in and because of the hard work I put in I was given producer credit on it. It was rough, but I got to know the company editor on it really well, Brian Kelley, and he ended up doing the color correction for Afterglow.
I did watch BSG. It was amazing. I do have to admit, though, a friend tried to get me to watch it way back and I couldn’t get through the mini-series. A few years later I gave it another shot and once I saw [season one, episode one] ‘33’… once you see that, you’re in. I actually got some of my non sci-fi friends into that show.
I’m currently the post coordinator for the show Community. I work with the post department and I love it. I was a fan of the show before I got the job and everyone I work with is really cool. I couldn’t ask for a better crew.

What’s next for you?
Right now I’m in pre-production for my next short that I plan on shooting in Puerto Rico next summer. The script is done, we’re raising money, location scouting, prepping VFX [visual effects] and all the fun stuff.

Watch Afterglow below or here and check out its Facebook page for behind the scenes photos!

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Caprica Pilot Review (Spoilers)

No, really, it's the future

The new Battlestar Galactica series Caprica (SyFy) begins fifty eight years before the fall of Caprica to the Cylons. We finally get to see what life was like before humanity ended up living in run-down spaceships jumping from place to place in an attempt to outrun the Cylons. You don’t need to have seen BSG to understand the Caprica prequel, but you would certainly have a different perspective considering future events.

This is a richly created world.  The details are wonderful. Little things like mourning customs, a silly “So Say We All” hand gesture (nice try, but glad it didn’t survive the genocide), the Pyramid sports game that for some reason reminded me of Quidditch…

In Caprica City, teenagers don’t merely flirt online; they enter virtual nightclubs where every type of decadence is permitted. The Holoband technology that allows this is the Caprican answer to the holodeck. (Bonus- when you get scanned for your avatar you tingle.) House robots that resemble large floating dildos guard your house. Levtrains looking eerily like Cylons transport the masses. Extremely large deity statues benignly observe the Pyramid games. Proto-centurions play paintball with mechanical Shmoos.

Not everything is a utopia. There is a terrorist organization called the Soldiers of the One, a monotheistic group amongst the gods-worshipping Colonials. Prejudice according to what planet you’re from substitutes for racism.

Daniel Graystone, the creative genius behind the Holoband and Joseph Adama, lawyer, both lose family members in the same event, and they “coincidentally” meet while having a smoke.  They end up talking for hours about their loss over coffee and more cigarettes.

Joseph Adama, played by Esaí Morales, is a lawyer from the planet Tauron, the “racial” underdog of Caprica.  He and his brother Sam are orphans due to a Tauron uprising and civil war. Adama is an unbeliever of sorts and lives in the city with his mother in law and son Billy (future Admiral Adama). His brother Sam is a member of the Tauron mafia and has the tattoos to prove it. Seems like Adama gets to defend Tauron syndicate members in court but isn’t involved directly with them so he can feel ethical about it. Yet during this episode he gets called upon to do dirty work not only for the syndicate but also for Graystone. He doesn’t get a break. He routinely deals with anti-Tauron prejudice, even to the extent of modifying his surname to fit in. He can’t quit smoking. He has to deal with a nagging mother-in-law. The one bright spot in his life is his son. It’s a rich character for Morales to interpret.

The Caprica series looks very promising. I was a bit worried by the promos heavily featuring the decadent virtual V-Club and Graystone’s daughter- naked. Looks like it will be an excellent addition to the BSG world. Hopefully we’ll get to see some more planets during the series. Tauron would be a good place to start. Gemenon too, since it might be related to the Soldiers of the One.

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