Planet Strikes at Dawn
interesting items of note about the upcoming
movie RED PLANET. The first's from the web
site CINESCAPE.com. The second's from the
web site SCIFI.com and the thirds from the
site SPACE.com. As for the image contained
below with the SPACE.com information; I really
have not idea what it is. It may represent
the set for the movie or perhaps it's the
camp for the crew of the movie, I'm not really
Planet' Prod Start
and Village Roadshow have announced the start
of production on their own Mars movie, Red
Planet. According to Variety, the film
began filming on location in Jordan and Australia
on August 30th. The film production, which
stars Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tom Sizemore,
Benjamin Bratt, Simon Baker and Terence Stamp,
is currently racing against Disney's Mission
To Mars to be the first of three Mars
projects to hit the screen. The latter film
starring Gary Sinise, is currently shooting
near Vancouver. At this point Mission
is slated to debut on March 10, 2000 while
Red Planet is scheduled to arrive in
theaters later that month on the 31st.
Planet Takes Off
The Warner Bros. film
Red Planet began principal photography
on Aug. 30, according to a company press release.
The picture is being directed by Antony Hoffman
and stars Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tom
Sizemore, Benjamin Bratt, Simon Baker and
Planet follows a team of American astronauts
on the first manned expedition to Mars. Earth
has become a dying planet, and establishing
a Martian colony is humanity's only hope for
During the mission the astronauts, each a
specialist in a different field, struggle
to overcome the differences of their personalities,
backgrounds and ideologies. When their equipment
is damaged, the crew members are forced to
depend on one another for survival.
Provides Martian Stand-In
By Stewart Taggart:
flat, red, rock-strewn Outback is proving
an ideal backdrop for a film starring Val
Kilmer about the first piloted mission to
the past two weeks, cast and crew of the Warner
Brothers film "Red Planet" have been shooting
in the desert roughly 15 miles from the mining
town of Coober Pedy. The bleak, desolate,
near featureless terrain has hardly any vegetation.
around here look almost identical to Mars
Pathfinder photos," says Trevor McLeod, special
projects officer for the town council. "One
place up the road from here is called Moon
Plain, because it looks just like the surface
of the moon."
Pedy is located in the harsh desert of South
Australia, near Australia's geographical center.
It's long been popular among science fiction
filmmakers. Last September, the still-unreleased
American sci-fi film "Pitch Black" featuring
Farscape star Claudia Black was filmed around
Coober Pedy. But by far the most famous film
shot in the area was 1985's "Mad Max: Beyond
Thunderdome" in which climactic chase scenes
took place along a railroad line roughly 25
miles west of town.
Planet" is set in the near future. Earth is
a dying planet and a team of American astronauts
is sent to Mars on a last-ditch effort to
find a suitable refuge for endangered humanity.
As personality conflicts and equipment breakdowns
threaten their mission, the astronauts have
to work together to survive.
Kilmer, the film also stars Carrie-Anne Moss
("The Matrix") and Terence Stamp ("Superman
II" and "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace").
Others in the cast, including Tom Sizemore,
Benjamin Bratt and Simon Baker, are better
known for non-science fiction roles.
cast and crew of "Red Planet" arrived in Coober
Pedy earlier this month after two weeks of
shooting in Wadi Rum, Jordan, where dramatic
rock outcroppings provided a different backdrop
than the flat Australian desert. The non-Australian
portion of the movie originally had been scheduled
to be filmed in Iceland, but the location
moved to Jordan when production crews couldn't
find an area completely barren of vegetation.
filming is completed in Coober Pedy, production
on "Red Planet" shifts to interior photography
at Sydney's Fox Studios. Shooting should wrap
up by Christmas, and theatrical release of
the film, directed by feature film neophyte
Anthony Hoffman, is expected sometime next
far, clear weather has kept the production
on schedule. However, one major dust storm
did kick up winds of up to 35 knots [40 miles
per hour or 64 kilometers per hour], making
the wind machine the crew parked in the center
of town a bit of a joke among the locals,
production officials said the natural storms
storms really helped us provide some additional
atmosphere," said one production aide reached
by phone at the unit's Coober Pedy offices.
"But a lot of time also has been spent waiting
for the dust to die down, because you can't
shoot if the camera's in danger."
Coober Pedy, Alice Springs in the Northern
Territory, Broken Hill in New South Wales
and the Flinders Ranges in South Australia
offer filmmakers otherworldly film backdrops,
the Australian Outback also has attracted
its share of scientists over the years.
because its terrain has been largely unchanged
and untouched in the billions of years since
Australia broke off from Antarctica and the
prehistoric supercontinent of Gondwanaland.
comet-finder Eugene Shoemaker used to make
yearly trips to the Outback in search of rocks
from space that might have fallen here. On
July 18, 1997, Shoemaker died in a two-car
accident near Alice Springs, north of Coober
science fictions films shot around Coober
Pedy are filmed in the roughly 120-mile square
Breakaway's Reserve just 15 miles from town.
The nearness of such good locations is one
of Coober Pedy's main attractions.
town also has made a name for itself for such
non-science fiction films as "The Adventures
of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert," a road
movie about transvestites who travel by bus
to Alice Springs. The more recent Australian
film "Siam Sunset" chronicled the adventures
of an English industrial chemist who travels
to the Outback in search of the perfect ochre
color to produce for his arts supply company.
get an idea of the vastness, just south of
Coober Pedy lies the Woomera Prohibited Area,
a rocket range roughly the size of England.
The area was used in the 1960s for Europe's
early rocket tests before those operations
were shifted to Kourou, French Guiana.
then, the range has been underutilized, although
a top secret US satellite listening post at
nearby Nurrungar provides employment for the
tiny town of Woomera itself, located about
180 miles south of Coober Pedy.
Woomera rocket range is now on the verge of
rebirth thanks to a US company -- Seattle-based
Kistler Aerospace -- that hopes to start launching
reusable rockets from there next year to deliver
satellites to low earth orbit. An Australian/Russian
joint venture also plans to start offering
launches to low earth orbit using converted
Russian SS-25 intercontinental ballistic missiles
Mars to Tatooine?
vastness of the Outback, coupled with the
harsh conditions, each year claim several
lives as tourists and adventurers suffer car
breakdowns and are unable to make it back
to civilization. Some areas can be unvisited
for years at a time, since no dirt or paved
roads exist across much of the area.
deep, cloudless blue skies and rich red rock
and sand, along with an unbroken flat horizon
in all four directions -- it's easy to feel
as if you're in atmosphereless, gravity-free
world in which you could easily fall off into
half of Coober Pedy's population of about
3,000 live underground in converted mines
to escape the searing surface temperatures.
The town exists mainly for opal mining, a
hit-or-miss business in which finds are generally
uncovered at random by digging gingerly through
soft underground rock.
McLeod said he knew of no other productions
scheduled to use Coober Pedy in coming months,
George Lucas will be gearing up production
on the second "Star Wars" prequel at Sydney's
Fox Studios early next year.
the Coober Pedy town council hasn't yet been
contacted by Lucas or his representatives
to film in the area, Lucas is known to be
interested in using Australian locations as
backdrops for the film.