Orbis - A sci-fi film featuring disconnected planets, space explorers and artist colonies all filmed on handmade sets to a backdrop of Cornish landscapes
In a conversation with Falmouth Fine Art student Rob Ive we find out more about the artists collaborating on this project along with their concepts and their process.
So third and final year of university, what are you guys working on?
This year Oscar Lyons and I are collaborating in the making of a science fiction film. We’ve titled the film "Orbis" It is a story following an astronaut from a large space corporation who travels to the planet Orbis, which a thousand years ago disconnected itself from the rest of the Galaxy. His task is to reconnect it with the galactic Internet, but there will be many obstacles in his way in order to achieve this goal. One such obstacle will be the colony of artists who have come to Orbis to find a new life for themselves.
Why choose film? And science fiction in particular?
As we make this movie we are exploring how the methods of film production portray certain ideologies; and how amateur productions change the quality of a genre that has become a Hollywood staple. The plot itself doesn’t hide away from any clichés of the genre; in fact by accepting there prominence in culture we wanted to question what sci-fi says about culture and society’s ideology.
Traditionally film projects require a large team – who are your collaborators?
The film is collaboration between various artists but being thought up and produced by Oscar and myself, Zola Richardson who is helping design the costumes, August Oldham who is helping making the sounds of the Spaceship and several others who play the characters. The actors in the film are all students, the main character being played by Edward May. Our entire budget to make this film comes from our student loan so it’s a compelling challenge to make a sort of film that would be extremely costly but on such a low budget.
Tell us more about the plot for Orbis?
The three main groups in the narrative are the space explorer: the artist’s colony and the collective who all represent different attitudes. These attitudes are ones that reflect issues of the moment and how different groups’ ideologies respond to large global issues like climate change and emerging technologies; how groups respond to new ideas.
How are you making the film?
It’s a mixture of hand-made sets, the Cornish landscape and computer animation. The blend of different styles gives the image a large material diversity. We want to make a film that captures the original meaning of Amateur as someone who is “lover of” we both love the genre and the art comes from the creative decisions of how to turn this narrative into material reality.
You and Oscar are both on the Fine Art course, what is the context for this work? How does it sit within contemporary art?
In a practical sense we are dealing with how film production can be linked into a contemporary art context; exploring how the film studio can be a model for making a very different type of practice. But still this is very much unlike most art film which is often completely experimental and lacks fictional narratives.
In the production process we have been still generating stuff that wouldn’t be unlike what goes on in the art studio but everything we make is towards a purpose of narrative, thus they become dispensable once filming is done, unlike work that the artist makes for a certain permanence. Surrounding everything we make is the artefacts of production; the set; the storyboard; the props; whilst this is the basis for the work, we treat these as by-products. Whereas the film is the finished result and the objects made are not meant to be sculpture, their design is made in context with what the material looks like as image not by the physical experience. It is the condensation of all these parts moving together. These parts still could have another meaning when presented outside of the film context.
When we arrive at the finished product, whatever state that might be in; it may become apparent how both of these areas of Film and Art are linked. It has been a very different way of working as opposed to working on your own but the discussions around the film production have been our context to the making, but still working and trying to link this into an art practice raises some interesting issues about what is it that we normally produce and how does it change with this larger project with control over how it will look.
We will keep you updated as to when where and how you can view this work so keep an eye out. Also check out Rob and Oscar’s work at: