Independent Film Interview: On The Shoulders Of Giants

In this month’s edition of SFX we introduce you to reader Kenneth Barker’s movie – here’s more about the Leeds-based production

“We are making a film that genre fans will really ‘dig.’”

At least that’s the hope of ambitious independent film director Kenneth Barker. After almost three years of hard work, on a budget so tight we’re surprised Barker can still feel his legs, On The Shoulders Of Giants is finally set to hit film festivals and the judgement of the classics fans he’s so eager to please.

The plot of On The Shoulders Of Giants sees the testing of the starship Andromeda’s Einstein-Rosen Bridge drive, technology which allows interstellar space travel in a matter of mere hours. After the ship’s initial success, however, its maiden voyage is secretly turned into a rescue attempt for a ship lost 15 years ago, the Leviathan, which had been piloted by the designer of the very first Einstein-Rosen Bridge drive.

Yet after discovering the ship… well, that’s when the successes of the Andromeda’s crew begin to run short.

Unsurprisingly, with a budget of less than £5000, Barker needed a lot of luck and support; the director and graduate of Leeds Film School had nothing but praise for everyone involved. Grabbing talent from within the Yorkshire region and across the UK, many of whom worked for free, Barker shot the film in a quick five weeks back in the summer of 2010. The visual and sound affects then had to be added, though. Speaking on the subject, Barker admits, “To be frank, I actually bit off more than I knew I could chew!” Still, he remained, as much as possible, down to the earth in his goals, always planning to make a film that was an homage to the great sci-fi classics of days gone by. Barker notes: “Films from the 1950s such as When Worlds Collide, This Island Earth, War Of The Worlds, Day The Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet were my influences. Those films were evocative of impossible worlds and technologies.”

The cast and crew of On The Shoulders Of Giants in many cases volunteered their time for the opportunity to have their skills shown in a full-length feature, as most of the super skinny budget was spent on over 700 visual effects shots and over 800 sound effects.

Now that On The Shoulders Of Giants has finally come to fruition, Barker shows no signs of slowing down, nor any lack of old-school inspiration, and he assured us of more to come: “I actively want to develop The Last Great Adventure – think of it as ‘Jules Verne meets My Fair Lady.’ The Last Great Adventure has steampunk influences and I unashamedly say it’s the type of film which harks back to the 1960s sprawling adventure films. The other project is 2642AD – it has a Buck Rogers-like set up with what I believe is ‘fun’ science in the vein of Back To The Future. Build that around some profound plot twists and a sublime message, I think it’s really going to have genre fans cheering and talking about it long after the credits roll.”

A black-tie screening of the film will be held on Saturday 8 December in Leeds, rolling out to the world via streaming site Dynamoplayer the following week. The teasers and trailers for On The Shoulders Of Giants, directed, written and produced by Kenneth Barker, are available here: http://www.youtube.com/otsog2012. We also feature the project in the YourSFX section of SFX issue 229, on sale today.

Nicole Smith