What if visitors from the stars came to Earth... and didn't come in peace? That question is explored in the new sci-fi movie Occupation, and to celebrate the film's US release in theaters and on VOD and Digital HD platforms from Saban Films, we caught up with director/co-writer Luke Sparke to discuss the inspiration behind his alien invasion story, the amazing Star Wars memorabilia on set, and the development of a sequel!
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Luke. How and when did you come up with the story for Occupation?
Luke Sparke: I’ve always been a fan of the fantastical type of stories, growing up through the 1980s and experiencing some of the best films ever made. As a kid, I would always look out to the horizon in my Australian country towns I grew up in, and imagine if the lights in the distance were an alien invasion without warning. How would I react—my neighbors, my town? So, when I was pitching my next ideas, this just came to me as something I felt I could pull off.
Where did filming take place and what did that environment add to the aesthetics and atmosphere of the movie?
Luke Sparke: We filmed in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. They are world-class locations, really, just so beautiful. It’s where I based the film, so it really helps sell the country vibe.
What was the most challenging or rewarding scene to shoot?
Luke Sparke: All the action scenes. They were the most work to pull off in our timeframe because independent films don’t really do them on this scale. But they are the most rewarding after weeks of slogging it out. The scenes in the rain were particularly tough on everyone when you are shooting nights, in winter, using nearly every effect we could get. But I’m very happy with how those scenes turned out.
Looking back at your time on set, is there a favorite or funny moment that stands out?
Luke Sparke: Just being around all the cast and crew as a family and working towards the end goal. I was so busy, I don’t think I caught any really funny moments, but I think my favorite was Temuera Morrison giving me a jacket the first night to keep warm for the shoot—and it was a Star Wars Mandalorian jacket signed by all three Fetts!
Do you have any favorite movies that influenced or inspired you while making Occupation?
Luke Sparke: I'm a huge fan of Lucas, Spielberg, J.J. Abrams and a lot of the influence was from films I watched growing up: Red Dawn, Independence Day.
Is this a world you would return to in a potential sequel?
Luke Sparke: Absolutely! We are well into prep for Occupation 2 and we're expanding the franchise with unique backstories, graphic novels, and more! I never thought about it at the start, but this world has fully developed in our minds as we’ve gone along… and I can’t wait to share what is in store.
With Occupation out now in theaters and on VOD and Digital HD from Saban Films, do you have any other projects that you can tease?
Luke Sparke: My next one is actually Occupation 2, and it’ probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever worked on. It’s huge! Apart from that, I’m developing an extremely interesting TV series that I’m very excited to get into as well.