Blenheim Filmmaker to Make Sci-fi Action Flick


Ethan McDowell as Sergeant Kirkland in the film Downward.
Ethan McDowell as Sergeant Kirkland in the film Downward.

Blenheim filmmaker Aaron Falvey will put the spotlight on Marlborough later this year, when he directs a short film with an American production company.

Post-apocalyptic sci-fi action movie Ascendance will be shot in Marlborough in September, with 10 cast and crew coming over from Los Angeles.

Los Angeles-based producer Michael Ortiz co-wrote the script for the film, which is a prequel to his award-winning 2014 short film Downward. 

Both films are set in a fictional world where there are tensions between humans and bio-engineered “dragoons” and guardians, who have been created to supervise humankind.

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Falvey said filmmakers from Marlborough and Nelson would be part of the cast and crew of the movie, which is financed by Vega Productions.

He already had a location scout looking for the best spots to shoot the film, he said.

Falvey hoped to get some exposure for the region and show it was a “great destination” for filmmakers, he said.

It was a true international effort, Falvey said.

“I’m working with people from all around the world.”

The film was expected to run for about 20 minutes and feature a combination of visual effects,”CGI stuff”, and special effects, Falvey said.

Lead actor Ethan McDowell was coming from the United States to reprise his role as Sergeant Kirkland, a bio-engineered “dragoon” hired by a company to discover who is stealing their merchandise.

Ortiz said the guardians in Downward and Ascendance were created to “shepherd” humanity.

They were like an overbearing parent or teacher, he said.

“We are ‘children’ who can’t take care of ourselves without hurting ourselves,” Ortiz said.

The film did not have a traditional post-apocalyptic setting, and was more about the world after it had “moved on”, Ortiz said.

He was looking for scenery which was “pure” rather than bleak and desolate.

The earliest the film would be released was March next year.

While the original movie Downward showed Kirkland’s emotional struggles, Ascendance would focus on both physical and emotional development.

Ortiz said audiences had responded to Downward well, and particularly to Kirkland’s character.

“We needed to focus on him once again,” he said.

Ortiz, who had worked on both feature films and short films before, said he usually focused on producing and production design.

He was excited to be working with Falvey, and said it was flattering Falvey had enjoyed the first film so much.

He decided to film Ascendance in New Zealand after he visited on holiday and was impressed by the scenery and the attitude of the people he met.

“I was just blown away by just how much people in New Zealand care about things, they just try their hardest,” Ortiz said.

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