Indie Sci Fi Film with an Environmental Message Is Elevating Asheville's Billing as a Film City

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When darkness descends on New York City the evening of September 19th, the international film community will get a stark and provocative glimpse into a future in which the world has been ruined by the degradation of the environment. Projected on a rooftop in Manhattan will be a scene from Moon Europa, one of ten outstanding narrative rough-cut film projects selected by the prestigious Independent Film Project, or IFP (http://www.ifp.org), for the 2007 Independent Film Lab. Moon Europa, written and directed by Chris Bower and produced by G. Craig Hobbs and Bower, was introduced at the Independent Film Lab several months ago and captured industry attention because of its environmental theme, its creative reliance on recycled, reused and salvaged materials in the sets and costumes to underscore the creative team's concern for the environment, and its innovative use of affordable, cutting-edge technologies. The guerilla, epic film is the outcome of a three-year effort involving approximately 150 volunteers from the Asheville, NC, media arts community.

When darkness descends on New York City the evening of September 19th, the international film community will get a stark and provocative glimpse into a future in which the world has been ruined by the degradation of the environment. It will also see that a resistance movement is fighting to bring freedom, justice and sustainability to both the humans and the clones that populate the earth.

Projected on a rooftop in Manhattan will be a scene from Moon Europa, one of ten outstanding narrative rough-cut film projects selected by the prestigious Independent Film Project, or IFP (http://www.ifp.org), for the 2007 Independent Film Lab. The rooftop projection of scenes from all ten films will be a highlight of the September 16-21 IFP Film Market.

The IFP Film Market is a showcase at which independent filmmakers present their works directly to buyers, promoters and film-festival representatives. It also represents the final event of the 2007 Independent Film Lab, in which industry experts have been mentoring the creators of the selected films in the areas of editing, sound, marketing and publicity, distribution and sales. The ten rough cuts, each created by first-time filmmakers, were chosen in June 2007 for their artistic and independent vision, technical achievement and market potential.

Moon Europa, written and directed by Chris Bower and produced by G. Craig Hobbs and Bower, was introduced at the Independent Film Lab several months ago and captured industry attention because of its environmental theme, its creative reliance on recycled, reused and salvaged materials in the sets and costumes to underscore the creative team's concern for the environment, and its innovative use of affordable, cutting-edge technologies.

A Script, Sets and Wardrobe with a Message
Moon Europa's story takes place in 2060, after millions have died as a result of environmental collapse. A new superpower has emerged -- the Nevco Corporation -- and it launches a series of genetic-specific plagues to eliminate the humans who are rebelling.

With few humans left to work for Nevco, the Company develops clones called Clean Slates. Moon Europa centers on the life of one of these Clean Slates, Bria Living, and how her life inspires a young revolutionary to kidnap one of Nevco's leaders and attempt to use him to bring Nevco down, thus freeing mankind and the clone population from the grip of oppression.

"Given that the film is about a world which has been laid waste by human greed and the fight to salvage earth so the human race can survive itself, we felt the integrity of the film depended on our being a good example and using recycled, reused and salvaged materials as much as possible," said writer/director Bower. "The spaceship that figures prominently in the movie includes interesting objects we found in the streets, junkyards and dumpsters all over town. My favorite is an airplane wing we recovered by hiking to a remote, decades-old crash site in eastern Tennessee."

Costume designers R. Brooke Priddy and Kelledy Francis costumed over 50 actors and actresses using primarily old fabric, leather scraps and trash bags. They wore out the surfaces of the rebels' costumes by running over them with their cars and making liberal use of paint and cocoa powder, and then fastening them with the only newly purchased material -- duct tape. "This method of costuming forced us to use the same thought process that survivors of the apocalypse would probably use when figuring out how to clothe themselves," said Priddy.

"Working with limited resources actually proved to be a powerful way to find an original voice in costuming," said Francis. "It was creative problem solving to the max."

It Takes a Village to Raise a Film
The guerilla, epic film is the outcome of a three-year effort involving approximately 150 volunteers from the Asheville, NC, media arts community. They used 2d/3d motion graphics, special effects and Dolby 5:1 surround sound to expand the boundaries of independent digital cinema.

"Asheville is a unique creative hub," said Bower, who was born in Asheville, and unlike Thomas Wolfe, another Asheville native, found he could come home again after years of living around the United States and Europe. "A lot of creative people have been attracted to the area because of its natural beauty and the inspiration that comes with that, but with our mountain location, to a certain extent we are on our own here. That means we have all this creative energy bouncing around and building up. We started with the intent of making an experimental short, but when we saw the talent we had assembled, we all came to an agreement that we should expand the film into a feature, and that we should keep it in the community and make it a totally local production, from casting and art direction to craft services and cinematography."

"Community-based filmmaking isn't new," producer G. Craig Hobbs said. "But the advent of high quality technology tools that are affordable and accessible make it possible to produce high quality films with diverse and interesting content that stems from the cultural characteristics of the locations in which they are produced. We have created an amazing film with a unique flavor."

Other local support helped the crew achieve high production values. For example, Blue Ridge Motion Pictures made a sound stage available at no charge. At a point when the coffers were particularly low, AdvantageWest, the economic development agency for North Carolina's mountain region, and the Media Arts Project (the MAP), a grassroots digital arts organization that provides exhibition programming, professional development, outreach and education, provided the inaugural Daniel DeLaVergne Media Arts Advantage Fund Award and helped Moon Europa keep going. And the Asheville Film Festival provided a venue where the creative team was able to begin attracting interest and financial support both in Asheville and beyond.

Western North Carolina has a rich heritage of filmmaking. Since the 1920s, films have been made in the region, including The Fugitive, Forrest Gump, The Last of the Mohicans, Hannibal, Dirty Dancing, Being There, 28 Days, Patch Adams, Bull Durham, The Swan, My Fellow Americans and The Green Mile.

Now Asheville is building on its filmmaking and other digital arts assets through the Asheville HUB, a collaborative effort of public, education and provide organizations that are pursuing specific strategic to strengthen the economic vitality of Asheville and the surrounding region. The Asheville HUB and the Media Arts Project are working to create a state-of-the art digital media center that will stimulate cutting edge research and experimentation and send local media arts and technologies onto the international stage.

Moon Europa's Future
Hobbs and Bower are intent on using the IFP Market to connect with a top-tier film festival. "If Moon Europa is selected by an A-list festival, we will have made a huge leap in our film's prospects and our careers, and Asheville's entire film community will take a giant step forward, too," said Hobbs. The ultimate goal is for the producers to find international distribution for the film so it can be seen by audiences worldwide.

For more information about Moon Europa, visit http://www.mooneuropa.com.

For more information about the Asheville HUB, contact Dave Brown at brown@wfu.edu or visit the HUB site at http://www.ashevillehub.com.

G. Craig Hobbs, Moon Europa
828/273-9777

Chris Bower, Moon Europa
828/252-8373

Nancy Foltz, Asheville HUB
828/628-1699

PHOTO CAPTION: Moon Europa follows the fate of a cloned astronaut, Bria Living, in the year 2060. In this photo, she is navigating her spaceship.

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