One of the films generating some of the biggest buzz in the sci-fi world at the moment is director Ian Truitner’s new film, Beyond The Trek (known as Teleios in some countries). The film has won nine major film awards including Best Feature Film at the Los Angeles Movie Awards and Best Sci-Fi Feature at the New York Science Fiction Film Festival. It has also had film critics very excited with it receiving compliments such as: “Visually stunning and thematically engrossing…” (Indie Horror) and is “Reminiscent of an episode of Star Trek or 2001: A Space Odyssey… you feel completely immersed in this futuristic world” (Tai Freligh, Flickering Myth).
Starring Sunny Mabrey (Snakes on a Plane, Species 3), Michael Nouri (The Hidden, TV’s “Damages”), and Lance Broadway (Olympus Has Fallen), the film tells the story of five genetically engineered “perfect” humans who are sent on a rescue mission to Titan, where only one man has survived a ruined expedition to retrieve a vital cargo. Under the stress of isolation in outer space, the five perfect humans begin to exhibit formerly-concealed character flaws that threaten to tear the mission (and their chances for survival) apart.
On the back of the film’s success, HEAVY sat down and had a chat with Ian who jokes that one day it will become a film trivia question, “What is the only movie to explore the convergence of Artificial Humans and Genetically Modified Humans?” he says laughing.
So with the film looking at such deep topics, where did the idea first come from? “The concept for Beyond the Trek began in 2013 based on an article I read about human genetic modification, which, by the way, is no longer science-fiction but is actually happening,” he says. “Financing was attached, plus the production company had a sound stage, but since the budget was limited, we had to be very creative with how we put everything together. As an indie film, one has to use intriguing themes and suspense rather than expensive special effects. Beyond the Trek had its premiere at Sci-Fi London Film Festival in spring of 2016, and was officially released in the UK in January 2017 under the title, Deep Space.”
With the film seemingly falling into place so easily, the talk turned to whether the end result was what Ian imagined it would be when he first started the film. “Yes, very much. There are nearly always variables that force a deviation from the original concept – sometimes creative, but mostly budget limitations. However, if one reads the first draft of the original script, it wouldn’t be much different than the film overall. The first rough cut came in at about 100 minutes, and the final version is 90 minutes. Cuts were made mostly for pacing, but didn’t remove anything critical to the plot.”
The film has had so much success at festivals so far, but Ian says he was always convinced that this would be a film that sci-fi fans would love. “It’s a sci-fi film, so it’s definitely played very well to fans of that genre. I was surprised that some people found a spiritual element in the film as well. Overall, I’m hoping the film stands up as just a solid film with interesting characters and themes regardless of genre preference.”
Ian also goes to say just how much he loves sci-fi and that he is pleased that, as a director, he has been able to add a film to the genre. “I’ve been fortunate to work mostly within genres that I love. Sci-fi is my favourite genre, so to have been able to make one was a phenomenal experience. Sci-fi is the land of limitless possibilities, so the imagination can really run wild without being burdened by convention or preconception.”
One of the biggest surprises for fans of the film is that despite it winning nine major awards, it has gone to VOD rather than getting a cinematic release, and while Ian says he wishes it had been shown in theatres outside of the festivals, he is not disappointed. “Beyond the Trek had a phenomenal festival run, screening in theatres around the world and winning over a dozen awards. Though I would have preferred a public theatrical release – since the film is very immersive on the big screen – I feel the festival screenings compensated for that. Currently, big studio films with large marketing budgets are the only kind of films that profit from theatrical releases. I hope that changes and there is an indie film revival at some point, but the existence of multiple VOD platforms offering a lot of content conveniently streamed into your home or connected device makes that unlikely.”
He also admits that the many VOD platforms that are around these days are a big game-changer for indie filmmakers in all genres. “It broadens the canvas to allow for more paint strokes, but a big canvas doesn’t necessarily mean the painting will be better. It’s great to have options, but the economics are pushing budgets of indie films significantly downward.”
Beyond The Trek is now available on various VOD platforms.