SAMI

Alone on a deserted planet, Sami and Lewis live like scavengers trying to survive.

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring this story to life?

I remember just picturing a girl alone on an alien planet trying to survive and that felt like something I’d never seen before. I’ve always been a big sci-fi fan and I wanted to make a sci-fi movie that was more about characters and story than explosions.

How did you create the planet environment? From its conception to production?

For the planet, we started out looking at video games like No Man’s Sky for inspiration. I kept going back to Dr. Seuss as a reference for the more fantasy elements, too. At some point during pre-production someone showed me the photographer Richard Mosse, who does discolored landscapes, and that turned into one of our main references as well. So, we spent a few weekends scouting locations in Sequoia and Idyllwild to find somewhere huge and otherworldly. We ended up going with Quaker Meadow in Sequoia, which is a massive, beautiful campground. From there, we hired our colorist Hayley Stablow to make everything pink and purple. We threw so much at her, and she made it work because she’s a pro.

What were the film’s biggest challenges during the production?

We had a few big challenges. The first was transporting our 20-plus person crew to Sequoia for a weekend. My producer Dani found a Christian summer camp that agreed to put us up, then we got everyone up there in passenger buses. Then, the night before our first day of shooting, the grip truck broke down on the way up the mountain, so we stayed up late finding a replacement and reworking our schedule to start a few hours later. Another big challenge once we started shooting was that our main character was fully CG. We had a big ball that stood in as a placeholder and had someone reading lines, but it was just hard for everyone to picture what would go in there. We put A LOT of trust in our VFX team. The post production process took about six months, which is a long time to go without really knowing if you shot everything you needed. Our VFX supervisors, Brendan Forde and Bobby Carey, were committed. The level of work they put in was incredible.