A deserted street in the docks. The rain is pouring.
A small, old, flower-power style painted Volkswagen van drives by at high speed, then stops below a lifting crane, tires screeching.
The door opens and a woman stumbles out of the vehicle, as if trying to escape. A tall man in uniform catches her violently. Intense exchange of words, probably four-lettered. She hesitates, then follows him back into the van.
My brother and I are watching from the side of the road. It’s a scene from the upcoming movie Iron Sky (no link, ironsky.net no longer exists), a science-fiction comedy about the Nazis who escaped with UFOs to the dark side of the moon and who come back in 2018 to conquer the earth.
It’s a long, fun story, but you better see it for yourself. Early 2012, that is, when the movie is done.
If you’ve ever met me at a party, you’ll know that I’m a movie fan.
As a student, I’ve worked for the local movie theater: Distributing flyers, setting up the online movie schedule, as a projectionist, etc. In exchange, I got to see all the movies for free, often a few days in advance. For example, I’ve seen Speed and The Mask during theater owner previews, and my friends and I got to watch Toy Story the day before it was released.
I still carry some pieces of real film in my wallet as a lucky charm and to illustrate how different movie sound formats like DTS, Dolby Digital, Dolby ProLogic work, but I digress.
Sudden Snow Storm Freezes Frankfurt!
It is Wednesday, December 8th. My brother and I took the day off to drive to Frankfurt, where the Iron Sky team is shooting. The week before, they got to explode one of Frankfurt’s main streets (no link, blog.starwreck.com no longer exists), which was great fun, I hear. Today, we’re less lucky: The rain is turning into snow, Frankfurt airport is about to be closed and chaos is spreading across Frankfurt’s streets and autobahns as the blizzard sets out to conquer the city, making our shoot impossible (no link, blog.starwreck.com no longer exists).
But none of that matters, this is the coolest day of the year for us: We are on a real movie set!
You see, Iron Sky is not your normal Hollywood-style movie. It is one of the first major cinema projects that is financed with the help of its own fan community: If you want to support the film, you can become an investor and help make the movie happen. If the movie becomes profitable, you can get your money back. If the movie becomes a success, you may even earn a little extra.
But that’s not the point. Iron Sky is all about community involvement: Fans all over the world are involved in the filmmaking process: You can witness the production process through blogs and video diaries, you can “demand to see Iron Sky” as a way of showing distributors and theaters how popular the movie is, you may be invited to spend a day with the cast and crew while they shoot the movie, or you can have a sneak peek at the whole film-making process of the first 5 minutes: From the script to the final movie.
And you can ask the director and the inventor of the movie to sit down and do an interview for your blog, which is what I did a few hours before the van scene was shot.
Watch the Interview
In this interview, we talk about how the original idea of the movie came into being, the role of technology in Iron Sky and what “to steampunk a gun” means. We also talk about the role of social media and communities in the making of the movie. Enjoy!
(Sorry for the shaky camera and funky sound, we’re still practicing :).)
Due to the snow, we had to interrupt the shooting and look for alternatives. We returned to the “studio” which was an abandoned area with three skyscrapers in the middle of downtown Frankfurt. I was told that the skyscrapers used to belong to Lehman Brothers who went broke in 2008. I told them “Cool, so you have more investors than you think”.
Waiting, Chatting, and a Long Night
The utter majority of time on a movie set is spent waiting: Waiting for the set to be prepared, waiting for makeup, waiting until stuff is ready, and waiting for people who have been waiting for whatever reason.
This gave us lots of time to talk and get to know the team: We saw cool concept drawings, heavy gun mock-ups, space pilot uniforms and other cool “steampunked” stuff.
The actors are cool and fun people to hang out with: Götz Otto is hilarious when he puts on his “Of course the Nazis are on the moon, I was there, too!” expression in front of the journalists who attended the press conference. Chris Kirby told us how he took his son to see the Matrix movies, where he played “Mauser”, resulting in naming their cat “Neo”. And Julia Dietze charmed the press with her ambition to study every tiny move of Marlene Dietrich, so her role as “Renate Richter”, who grew up on the moon, culturally frozen in the era of the 40ies, becomes more convincing.
After dinner, the scene needs to be modified to a different surrounding. Peta Sergeant and director Timo Vuorensola discuss the motivations, background and conflicts of their characters, so the new scene can be make to “work”. A discussion among actors, the director and fans emerges, while they brainstorm different possibilities for the course of the scene. It’s amazing how much attention to detail and dedication the team puts into the movie: From the tiniest mechanical bits inside computer-generated machinery to gorgeous space suits made of sauna tubes to subtle humor in the naming of characters or space ships. Everything about this movie is made with love and hard work.
Around midnight, the team found a new location: A closed fairground parking garage where the crew managed to set up the new scene in record time, complete with lights, camera, catering, heating, A/V equipment and so on. We shoot until 3 AM and after a short night, my brother and I try to beat the snow storm on our way back to Munich.
We will return.
How You Can Help
If you’re like more than 45,000 fans who “like” Iron Sky on Facebook, and if you too want to make this crazy Finnish-Australian-German science-fiction comedy Co-Production happen, here’ s what you can do to help:
Support Iron Sky for free: See how the movie is being made by following the Iron Sky Blog (no link, ironsky.net no longer exists). Or Demand to see Iron Sky (no link, ironsky.net no longer exists) so the producers can convince more and more distributors and movie theaters to license the movie for screening.
Support Iron Sky for $1 or more: For only a dollar (or any amount you choose), you can witness how the first 5 minutes of the movie are made (no link, ironsky.net no longer exists): From the original script to storyboards, shooting, CGI, post-production to the end result, you’ll get one new piece of the puzzle each month until the movie is released.
Support Iron Sky for EUR 7.50 or more: By shopping in the Iron Sky fan store (no link, ironsky.net no longer exists), you can buy cool stuff like T-Shirts, mouse pads, concept art, posters, “War bonds”, even pre-order the special collector’s edition of the movie. Of course, any profit flows directly into financing the movie.
Support Iron Sky by becoming an investor: If you are from Europe and are ready to invest EUR 1000 or more, you can apply to become an investor in Iron Sky (no link, ironsky.net no longer exists). Certain rules apply, but there are also perks: You’ll be more involved in the making of the movie, get a chance to visit the team and who knows, the movie might even turn a profit that you can benefit from.
Meanwhile, enjoy the trailers (no link, ironsky.net no longer exists), and stay tuned for more tales from the dark side of the moon at the Iron Sky blog (no link, ironsky.net no longer exists).
German-speaking readers: More background on Iron Sky is available in episode #51 of the HELDENfunk podcast and in this “Blick über den Tellerrand” interview about crowd-funding.
Or Do You Prefer a TV Show?
Before we close, I’d like to quickly introduce you to another cool project:
Pioneer One (no link, vodo.net no longer exists) is a TV series about a mysterious incident at the border of Canada, where a radioactive capsule with a strange survivor has been found. The FBI and the Canadian authorities are trying to solve the mystery, under their government’s pressure who think this may be a terrorist attack. Slowly they realize how strange their survivor really is…
This series follows a similar crowd-funding concept: Fans can donate money and as soon as the goal for an episode is reached, it gets produced, then distributed through BitTorrent for free. You can download the first two episodes now for free and trust me: This is a very ambitious and well-scripted story. Great stuff!
Are You a Movie Buff?
How about you? What’s your favorite movie? Are you a movie investor? Do you believe that crowd-funding is changing the world of film or is this just an exotic indie gig? Share your thoughts in the comments!
As you have guessed by now, I’m an investor in Iron Sky, so I have an interest in promoting the movie, its funding and its commercial success.