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An Interview with Mark Lund, Writer and Producer of First World

First World (US-2007, dir. Adam Starr, written by Mark Lund)

Rob Hood: What is your background in cinema, Mark? How has it fed into the "First World" project?

Mark Lund: Well, aside from being a huge sci-fi fan (I love Space 1999 and UFO), my background is largely in television as an on-air personality and in magazine publishing. I started to write First World in the spring of 2006 and my goal was to create something original that wouldn't stop at just one film, but create a franchise. The overall concept has changed several times, but it's fairly locked down at this point.

RH: Perhaps you can tell us something about "First World": what's it all about (without giving any surprises away)?

ML: The general premise behind First World is as follows: In the early 1960s NASA confirmed the existence of some sort of civilisation in the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon that was shielded from all Earth-based visual detection technology. The race to get to the Moon that we are familiar with was not a "space race" between countries; it was only designed to look that way. When the US reached the Moon in 1969 and made contact with this lunar civilisation it was quickly discovered who they were and what they represented. Thus three World governments led by President Richard Nixon ended manned missions to the Moon in 1972. First World commences in the year 2018 when the Chinese surprise the entire world by announcing they are making their first manned mission to the Moon in 24 hours. This worldwide cover up is now quickly unraveling and while it is referenced in the short and the long versions of the film -- at the end of the long version in particular -- you can pretty much guess who these people really are. As it says in the trailer "All that is believed is over."

RH: What is the film's developmental history? How did it come about? What is your aim in making it?

ML: The film really started out from two inspirations. One, I love the beaches of Cape Code and New England in general. Imagine you are on the beach during what is a normal regular Sunday when these great ships that look like advanced Concordes begin to appear out of nowhere. Secondly, I've always had a fascination with stories surrounding the numerous conspiracies related to the Apollo space program as well as the countless biblical references that suggest our culture was shaped by an extraterrestrial influence thousands of years ago. My aim in making this picture was to appeal to 1) all those who love a great science fiction story, and 2) to speculate on possibilities as to what would and could happen if even part of this story is true. How would civilisation truly react to the knowledge? Would the reality be embraced or would there be a faction within our own people that would do anything in their power to keep a global society ignorant?

RH: As the writer, were you driven by these thematic elements, or did the story grow out of production necessities?

ML: There were certain thematic elements that did drive certain parts of the story, but the story really grew as I was writing it. How would these characters react, how would they deal with what they are facing? You have a President who realises that the entire world has been lied to and who slowly determines what he must do to achieve a global peace, even it means war against his own military, while on the other hand you have the leader of an advanced civilisation that has been here for over 5,000 years and is also wrestling with not just the leadership of his own people and their mission but the Worldwide awareness of them and the explanations he will eventually have to make.

RH: How exactly does this short version compare to the feature-length version? How much of the full version actually exists?

ML: The short is a 25-min "sampling" of what is more than likely going to be a two-hour-and-30-minute production. The story is vast and in-depth and while there exists a good amount of special effects to really bring the viewer in, the focus is on the story through the characters that start off in a seemingly calm but troubled world and ending in the establishment of a new world order. Presently only a 2-minute trailer and the 25-minute short exist. My goal is to create interest in the premise with the short and introduce the project to producers and investors so that the script could be developed through to production of the long version.

RH: Is taking this route (making a short version) common practice?

ML: Not from what I have seen. Of course, you remember Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow. There, a 6-minute short turned into a feature-length film. Unfortunately, the film was not very well received. I enjoyed it, but I could understand some of the comments against the storyline. I wrote my long version first. Showed it to numerous people and then produced the short knowing the overall story line. I think having a short film really brings life to your project and shows a very serious interest by the creators in making the project happen. As you will see in the short, we have five principal characters, over 30 extras, six locations along with live animals and children! I believe from an investor point of view, or from the perspective of a producer, if someone were to look at the short they would say, "These are serious people."

RH: What about cast and crew? And the director, Adam Starr? What sort of experience is there? How did you find them?

ML: I've known director Adam Starr for several years. He has worked on a variety of film projects and has won an Emmy here in the United States. We have worked together on a few television commercials and promotional videos, so I was very aware of his capabilities and we work great together. He is also very budget-conscious, which is great and very rare with directors these days. We produced the entire short for just over $15,000 USD. The other actors came about from advertisements I placed on a website called I hired Angelina (Elisabeth) and Zeb (Cedric) here in Los Angeles. But we produced the entire short in Massachusetts. I'm from that state so I was very familiar with all the nuances of getting something done. By example, my cousin owns the house where we filmed in Dennis. But the mother of the girl who plays Elisabeth's daughter was a great find. She saw our ad on Craig's list while we were looking for an equestrian and she secured the entire horse farm, arranged the other riders and the extras. She was just excellent.

RH: What do you hope will happen with "First World" from this point?

ML: My hope is that through the short being screened at conventions such as Conflux 4, and while proposals are being generated and considered by producers and investors, combined with our online presence, that all our effects will form a catalyst and within these groups someone will see the value of producing First World.

RH: Any other ambitions beyond this film, or is it too early yet?

ML: I confess I've already made notes for a sequel. Of course, I have to get First World made first!

Check out Mark Lund's website

copyright©Robert Hood 2007

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