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A sit down with Chance Shirley

09.15.2008 by André Natta · → 3 Comments

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Chance Shirley/Crewless.com After knowing local filmmaker (and Crewless Productions co-founder) Chance Shirley for a little over a year now and hanging out with him in a maze of Kevin Bacon-like degrees of separation, I finally decided to give you guys an update on the legend that is his upcoming film: Interplanetary.

Oh, you’re gonna want to read this. There’s talk of blogging, editing trailers and, my personal favorite, Birmingham film parties involved. Thanks again to Chance and Crewless Productions!

WHITNEY: For those who are unfamiliar (all 3 of them haHA), what is Interplanetary and how did the idea get hatched?

CHANCE: Interplanetary is the sci-fi/horror movie that we (“we” being me and a volunteer cast and crew) have been working on since early 2007. It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure the idea for Interplanetary was hatched at my day job, which gets a little too far into Office Space territory sometimes.  I thought, “What if we make a movie that’s like Office Space on the planet Mars, with bloodthirsty alien-lizard-monster things?”  Actually, I think the movie was originally set on a space ship, like a goofy, violent version of Star Trek.  But I decided to move the setting to Mars so the characters would have a little more room to run around, even though they’re still isolated for the most part (it’s a 6-month trip back to Earth).

WHITNEY: What was the shooting schedule and how long of a process has it become for you?

CHANCE: The original plan for Interplanetary was to knock out production in about two months, filming for 6 three-day weekends.  In hindsight, that was terribly naive.  Since the movie is set on another planet, you can’t just go to somebody’s apartment to film.  And when somebody is driving on Mars, their vehicle can’t just be a Chevy.  Though that might be kind of funny. So we had to build the majority of sets and props that appear in the movie.  As the construction crew consisted of maybe four or five people (all with day jobs) at any given time, we spent much more time on pre-production than actual filming.  Usually, we’d film a couple of days, then spend a week or two or three building whatever we needed for the next day of production.  With us just filming a few days a month, it was hard to build up any momentum.  And the longer a shoot drags out, the harder it is to stick to a schedule.  You start running into holidays and vacations, people move out of state… sometimes people just lose interest in the project.

WHITNEY: The infamous trailer has evolved over the last few months and changes every time it is screened. How much fun is it and who is involved in the editing process?

CHANCE: Trailers are a lot of fun.  I put the first one together for [the film] more than a year ago.  I knew we didn’t have nearly enough footage to edit the actual movie, but I picked a minute’s worth of cool shots and strung them together with some music.  Seeing the results of everyone’s hard work, even if for only 60 seconds, probably gave me my second wind (I think I’m on my third or fourth now).  I cut the first two trailer-type things for [the film], but my favorite is the one Ted Speaker put together for OmegaCon [Birmingham], a local sci-fi convention.  I’ve actually been meaning to trim Ted’s trailer down a bit and post it on the web.

WHITNEY: I love reading Crewless’ blog! When did you decide to begin it and how many readers do you currently have?

CHANCE:  I was actually re-reading some of my blog posts the other day, and I realized that, even if it seems like I don’t update it very often, I now have a pretty comprehensive account of the making of
Interplanetary.  Which is nice, because I know I’ve forgotten a lot of the details from the making of my first feature (Hide and Creep, co-directed with Chuck Hartsell). On top of the historical angle, a blog is a quick and easy way to let people know about what’s going on with the movie.  And I especially like the interactive nature of the blog.  People can respond to my posts, and we can get a conversation going.  It’s not just a one-way street. My blog doesn’t have that many readers right now — 183 unique visitors since I started keeping stats.  More readers would be awesome.  Interested parties should check it out.

WHITNEY: Any new projects/ideas film making-wise that are in your focus right now?

CHANCE: No new projects at the moment.  I’m just trying to get Interplanetary finished up and out there for audiences to see!  We’re actually doing a special “sneak preview” screening at the Indie Memphis Film Festival in Memphis, TN on October 11.  I’m obviously excited (and a little nervous) about this because it’ll be the first time anyone has seen the whole movie outside a few crew members.  And the new director of Indie Memphis is Erik Jambor, who used to run the Sidewalk fest here in Birmingham. Jambor gave me my first “break,” screening a short I wrote and produced way back at Sidewalk 2 (in 2000). So the fact that my new feature is showing at Jambor’s new festival is extra exciting. After the Memphis sneak, we’ll fine-tune the movie some more.  I hope to have it done by the end of 2008 and start shopping it around to distributors, other film fests, etc.  Then I need to do something with Hide and Creep — it was released on DVD but is currently out-of-print. After all that, I’ll probably start trying to come up with some ideas for a new project.

WHITNEY: What are you looking forward to watching/being involved with at this year’s Sidewalk?

CHANCE: I always look forward to Sidewalk.  To me, it’s like Christmas for filmmakers and indie film fans.  But I’ve been so busy with Interplanetary, I’m not even sure what all is playing this year, much less what I’m going to see.  I have seen Goliath, which is pretty good, and I’ve heard that Let the Right One In (some kind of post-modern vampire flick, I believe) is amazing.  Other than that, I’ll probably just play it by ear.  If nothing else, I know I’m helping out with the Sidetalk panel discussions, and I’ll be hitting all the parties I can.

Photo credit: Chance Shirley/Crewless.com

P.S. If you’re not already obsessed with wanting to catch an Interplanetary trailer screening now, you’ll definitely want to see it after finding out that my boyfriend Nick Crawford has a role in the beginning of the film! HEY, IT’S AWESOME TO ME!

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Filed under: alabama · birmingham · film


Wish you all the best for upcoming film. Scarceness before started a movie is not good but start with confidence is a good started. Wish you all the best.


  1. […] also get a chance to hit the previous post button and check out Whitney’s recent chat with Crewless Productions’ Chance Shirley. So even though it’s a gorgeous day out there, take a few minutes and hop on over […]