Australian filmmaker Shane Abbess has had a love of filmmaking since he was a teenager. This passion would lead him into being accepted as one of the youngest students at the North Sydney TAFE Film Course. Forming his own company Redline Films, Shane has had success as a filmmaker, beginning with 2007’s Gabriel. His latest film, the sci-fi action film The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One will be released to select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on October 6 from RLJE Films while it is currently available on DirectTV.
World Film Geek got to talk to Abbess about the film.
Thank you Shane for talking about The Osiris Child. I do love my share of sci-fi films and this is by far one of the best I’ve seen with its storytelling specifically.
Oh, great. That’s really lovely. Thank you!
How did you come up with the idea behind The Osiris Child?
I’ve read comic books out of order and I read Judge Dredd issue nine, then I would try to go back to issue three. But then we wouldn’t have comics because the delivery would never show up, but then I’d have a collection. It wasn’t until Comic-Con that I gathered my collection and I said, “Oh shoot, I didn’t realize that”, so I missed out on a lot, such as the origin story.
So I decided with this film, to make the first chapter the end. And then we would just jump around as we would go along. There’s also this notion of doing a film that brings back this 80’s Betamax, kind of pulpy era. It is about integrity and care and respect, but to go back to those roots, to those very simple sci-fi ideas, just to bring out those Betamax style idea. Those were like two big forces that eternally collided together.
Then there’s the human drama was had in the script coming together and it brings more of a dramatic element within a sci-fi setting. And that’s how the whole thing was put together.
What’s fascinating is that the film’s chapters change between what we see in the “present day” and seeing Sy’s backstory, rather than being a straightforward movie. To me, that brings a sense of originality. Was that the intention of the film as a whole?
Yeah, completely. And it was meant to be out of order. I had sort of this dumb idea when it came to Blu-Ray to let the viewer see the film in different ways so they can pick the chapters and see the story. Then, we had the theatrical release and we went from fifteen chapters to twelve when we put it together. Then it went from ten to eight, which I think it is now. And we did that for the screening to bring clarity into it.
And this is also part one, so this is pretty much the origin story of the character of Indi [played by Teagan Croft], who becomes an elite assassin. And then of course, there’s Sy, who goes with her. And then there’s the Ragged, who are the creatures. They came out of the oven a year or two early. The interesting thing with them is that they are not designed to be killing machines. They are more of these big, lumbering, turtle creatures in the sense that they are not perfect yet.
One of the things we wanted to do in the age of television and streaming is to make a saga of films where you don’t have to wait for three or four, but even with the first film, things become clear. You think, “Oh I see why this has happened” and so on. It’s pretty ballsy to do such a thing because people will say strange things about it. So, it was a fun idea to finish the film the way we did because it’s literally just starting. This is the story of the one nicknamed “The Osiris Child” and it is how the elite assassin came to be with this interesting story of her, her dad, and this guy who becomes her ally.
And the film was released in the U.K. from Lionsgate and they call it Origin Wars. People really like the title change, until they see the end of the film and realize that we didn’t tie it up and of course, they complained about it. But I had to explain that this was actually “Part 1”.
You definitely have an international cast, from Kellan Lutz to Luke Ford as well as local talent like Daniel McPherson, Isabel Lucas, and Teagan Croft, who I felt made the most of her film debut. What was it like working with them on the set?
We had a very intense set, but to be really good, you’ve got to overcome your limitation and the preconceived notions of what film markets are. So we really had to dig her hard and Teagan’s never done a movie before. She was eleven years old when we shot the film. And even for Kellan, he’s done action films post-Twilight, there were expectations from him. So I kind of had to be harsh, but at the same time, have them tell me anything they feel unhappy with and I would do the same.
It’s like any job where you are asked, “How are you doing?” and you would respond, “Pretty good, but…” And that is when they would say, “When I hired you, you should have brought this across.” So, I wanted to bring an environment of having them be comfortable where they can tell me if they feel uncomfortable with anything, to always bring it up. So we had to get through that. And that was a big thing with Teagan, and I can tell you, I know she is going to have a bright future.
At eleven, her mom was on the set, at the trailer relaxing. So there would be times when I would tell her that it’s going to be a hard day. Not a fun one at all. And I still make my days, shoot what I need to shoot. To me, I would be reacting to a level of behavior where it’s “oh, I don’t care”, “I don’t want to shoot that”. It can be volatile, but you have to do it, especially when you have a tight budget and there’s that level of patience, but you have to overcome it.
Were there any difficulties that you had to endure while shooting the film?
The shoot itself was pretty fierce. We shot for eight weeks, but for a film of this scope, we had buses and airplanes. There was so much we had to do. One of the big ones, which was actually a fun one, was that the flies that showed up. We built the bus [driven by Luke Ford’s character] for real. We took a working bus and we went out scouting for locations months earlier. I didn’t realize that there were flies warming up and then we had the whole crew out there and the flies hatched a week earlier. And it got to the point where in the middle of the day, if you were talking, you’d have five or six flies in your mouth. (laughs) So, we would have to shoot until 10:30 or 11:00 and just shoot wide shots because there was nothing you can do. Then we would have to shoot later dialogue and close things up.
Then there’s the emotional aspect of the film, and that was quite intense. One of the last scenes we shot was between Teagan and Dwaine Stevenson, who plays the Ragged. He was the actor in the suit and well, he didn’t have the head on. He was wearing the suit and there were puppeteers and I were watching and they crafted a way to bring this emotional content and she started using sign language and he has the head on her lap. That for me was a very touching moment. It wasn’t as difficult, but it was quite surprising how emotional things got on the set.
The subtitle of the film reads Science Fiction Volume One. Is that an indication that there will be perhaps a follow-up to this film or is this the first in perhaps a film anthology and if so, will you be involved in it?
Yes! When we wrote this film, we had already come up with five stories. So we have come up with the arcs and then will see from here the feedback from the audiences. What they like and what don’t they like. So we have an idea, but we haven’t done a script yet as we are waiting to get this film’s reception.
So I’m going to be working on one or two more films and then get back to Teagan, so we can get back to her journey. So I’m thinking perhaps we won’t do “Part 2” until three years from now. I’ll be doing a few more films first then come back to this one for sure!
The Osiris Child will be coming to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on October 6. Anyone who likes sci-fi but want something different will enjoy this film. Thank you again Shane for talking about the film.
Thank you! Take care!
A special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Shane Abbess for making this interview possible.