A fantastical dramatisation of the first recorded alien abduction, and a love-letter to Television Sci-fi.
We filmed this in mid-2008 as a second year drama-documentary project. No one had yet attempted to stage an alien abduction at UCA, and we wanted to be the first to do it. In reading up on the case of Barney and Betty Hill, our screenwriter, Henry Kelly, came across a report, suggesting their abduction had been fabricated from science-fiction clichés seen on Television. This came to hugely influence the finished film, although we used television closer to our hearts- and time- as inspiration. One thing Henry was adamant about was that neither Barney nor Betty should be played as idiots; if the audience laughed in screenings, it should not be at our characters. To do so would be a disservice to their story. This spread to the film itself: B-Movies work because they have an innocence, an earnestness unseen these days. If our characters were unaware they were in a parody, so the film should be treated as if serious. We played each scene with this air of innocence, more as a love letter to the genre than a knowing piss-take. To me, that meant the difference between an audience laughing at or laughing with the film. If we were too smug, or cynical, or knowing, the end product would have been a dull and nasty one. By keeping a wide-eyed enthusiasm, a silly sense of wonder, we made a far more entertaining film; one that- hopefully- asks the audience to be complicit, to enjoy themselves instead of sitting back and feeling smug. I like to think we succeeded.
Note: the historical Barney Hill was black. The colour change was thanks to an urgent casting session called when our first Barney dropped out. Dan Lyman stepped in and did a wonderful job; and its far from the only time he's saved my films at short notice.
Dir: Mark Turnock (2008)
Written by: Henry Kelly