Luke Sparke’s first entry into the sci-fi epic genre, Occupation, saw futuristic war descend on a small rural town in the form of aliens, spaceships and lots of explosions.
Now the Novocastrian director wants to bring the front lines to his own backyard, as he and his scouting unit spent the day searching for the perfect battleground in the Hunter Valley.
With the international praise already rolling in for Sparke’s first big budget offering – set to be released in Australia on July 12 – a sequel was a foregone conclusion, the Aussie director explained.
“The reception has been great, we definitely are looking forward to getting the sequel rolling,” he said. “It’s great to come back here to Newcastle and have a look for future sets.”
After exploring an abandoned power station in the Wangi area, Sparke and his production crew, including the movie’s cinematographer and key producers, are “90 per cent sure the location would work well”.
“After aliens invaded Australia in the first film, the sequel now has to go bigger and better,” Sparke explained. “We were looking for a lot of post-apocalyptic areas because of that, and the areas that we saw [in Newcastle] fit that bill.”
“We had the whole team out here and we were all really impressed. The area energises the creative juices, so there’s a pretty good chance.
“It’s going to be really fun, if we get the opportunity, to bring some huge explosions to the area. Everyone who has worked with me knows that’s how I roll, so we’ll definitely blow some stuff up.”
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Sparke also hopes if Newcastle is confirmed as the location for one of the second movie’s scenes, the community “gets behind the project”.
“We’ve turned out for shoots in some towns and we’ve not had a great reception there, so it makes it a little difficult,” he said. “I’m really excited to come back to the town that I grow up in. I hope that everyone is excited for us to bring it here too.”
He also confirmed those in the area could have the chance to be extras in some of the big blockbluster scenes being filmed in the area.
“There’s going to be a lot of demand for not only extras and characters, but crew members all the way through to catering,” Sparke said.
“We want to inject a lot into the local economy, we’re an independent production so we want to be able to work with the area we’re in rather than just roll into town then leave again a few weeks later.
“I’m looking forward to sharing this with Newcastle, and we’re hoping that will be something we can definitely do.”
Newcastle’s own movie star Zac Garred – who appears in the upcoming first Occupation movie as a homeless man turned fighter called Dennis – also believes his home town would be an “awesome” location for an action scene.
Although there has been no confirmation on what the planned action sequence at the Wangi power station would entail, Garred said the plans were “immense”.
“It would all be local extras, and [budding film makers] sourced from the University as well,” Garred said. “We want to give experience to people – it’s such a blast making movies.”
Sparke revealed Occupation 2 will begin filming from August, with Newcastle’s involvement to be confirmed “fairly soon”. The film is expected to wrap in October.
Occupation releases at Reading Charlestown on Thursday, July 12.