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SSFM 2012












that all of the movies

109 years ago (67 years before the Apollo 11

made in your lifetime

moon landing), Georges Méliès conducted a

don’t exist. Pretty difficult, isn’t it? Now try

different mission to the moon. As writer, direc-

imagining that all of the movies that have

tor, and star, he released a 14 minute short

come out in the past century no longer exist.

film titled, Le Voyage dans la lune, or better

You’re probably wondering to yourself, “Did

known in the U.S. as A Trip to the Moon. It

movies even exist that long ago?” Believe it

was the first film in the science fiction genre. It

or not, they did! However, one hundred years

has made a lasting impression across multiple

ago, movies were extremely different from

fields in cinematic history, and has had a great

what we’re used to here in the 21st century.

impact on the genre and its following films. It is also known for using the earliest forms of

One hundred years ago, films were meant for

innovative special effects.

the upper class, whereas today, they’re open to anyone who can afford them and they can

Georges Méliès was a famous French film-

even be watched at home. A century ago,

maker during the silent era of film. Initially, his

movies were mostly short films that typically

interests began in the arts and expanded into

lasted no longer than twenty minutes, whereas

magic and ultimately, cinema. As part of the

today, they can last up to three or four hours,

audience at the Lumière Brothers’ unveiling of

and sometimes more. Movies were more primi-

the cinematography, he was inspired to learn

tive in their production methods, unlike today,

more about moving pictures. He was later able

where we have the advantage of technology to

to build his own projector and screen other

create sounds and visuals through editing.

peoples’ movies, then eventually his own.

With filmmaking as a new tool in his arsenal of creativity, Méliès was determined to go beyond the visual capabilities of stage theatre and into special effects in film. One of the most famous special effects he discovered is known as the “stop trick.” He accidentally discovered this trick when he was filming a street scene in Paris and his camera jammed. He stopped rolling to fix the jam and resumed rolling after. Later, when he screened the footage, an omnibus in the street was instantly replaced by a hearse. This was just one of the many visual tricks he used in his films that has been utilized throughout filmmaking history. Others include double exposure, actors performing with themselves over split screen, and the use of dissolves and fades.

In A Trip to the Moon, Méliès films the moon landing in two different ways: first with a bullet-shaped rocket landing in the eye of the moon, which has been made to look like a face (a scene which would be remembered throughout cinematic history). Secondly, with the rocket landing on the flat surface. This technique would be echoed in Edwin S. Porter’s Life of an American Fireman. Other notable visuals and techniques in Méliès’ most famous film include creating sets and backdrops with simple, painted flats, having detailed costume designs for the moon people and the moon face, and making the moon people explode into smoke through camera trickery. Although these seem primitive today, we must remember that these were filmmaking innovations started by a master of illusion and editing over one hundred years ago.

As the largest producer of fiction films in

`A Trip to the Moon runs for about fourteen

France, Méliès had a large output of hundreds

minutes and has both a plot and special ef-

of films which ranged from one minute to forty

fects. It was inspired by Jules Verne’s From the

minutes. Other filmmakers started to follow

Earth to the Moon and H.G. Wells’ The First

his trend in lengthening their films as well.

Men in the Moon, two popular science fiction

However, his earliest films focused on camera

novels at the time. What makes A Trip to the

tricks and special effects, and some were even

Moon the first in the science fiction genre is

devoid of plot, due to his emphasis on special

that it established all the elements necessary


in the genre: adventurous scientists, a futuristic space voyage, special effects, and strange aliens from a place far from earth. The rest of the films within the science fiction genre all have at least one of these elements in common with Georges Méliès’ most famous film. Movies like The Thing from Another World, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Star Wars trilogies, The Terminator, The Matrix, and District 9, while having distinctive plots, all share a common element with the very first film in science fiction. In spite of how long ago it was made, we can always point to A Trip to the Moon and remember how much it resonates in the entire genre.


Highlighting Sacramento’s Fall events calendar for 2011 is something we at Continuum have all been waiting for. The Sacramento Science Fiction Film Festival kicks off on Friday, November 11, running through the end of the weekend. Following the ever-popular Sacramento Sci-Fi & Horror Show,

The entire downtown area is abuzz with fine dining and bars, galleries, parks, and shopping. The downtown mall will be a central hotspot during the festival, as it is home to one of the venues. Much of the downtown and popular Midtown areas can be explored just by walking. A pleasant stroll among the

held at the Scottish Rite Center each September, the Film Fes-

large trees that cover the area will lead you to

tival aims to bring some of the most beloved science fiction

eclectic, hole-in-the-wall eateries, scattered

movies to downtown Sacramento. Films will be shown at three venues, all located along a 10-block strip of K Street. The classic Crest Theatre will serve as the festival’s home base, with satellite venues including the Downtown Esquire IMAX screen (reserved for the special effects-driven films), as well as the Downtown Century Plaza Theatres. With three theatres and three days worth of science fiction culture to immerse yourselves in, the festival is on our must-attend list. Set in the heart of Sacramento, there will be plenty of other activities available within walking distance to supplement your film-viewing. Old Sacramento, situated along the city’s beautiful riverfront district offers museums, shops, dining and various entertainers. All of this is set within a fun Western-themed atmosphere which parallels the city’s rich history as the capitol of California.

throughout an interesting mix of residential and business pockets. Sacramento’s nightlife is also bustling. Outdoor patios are abundant, making after-hours mingling an essential part of your visit. Check out http://downtownsac. org/venture-out/plan-my-visit/ or for some more things to do. Another popular Autumn destination is Apple Hill, just up Highway 50 from Sacramento. Comprised of over 50 ranches and orchards, the area is open to the public with every type of apple treat you can think of. A micro-brewery, vineyards, and spas make it a fun day trip for adults and kids alike. Directions and events for Apple Hill can be found at http://www.

All of this rich culture surrounding Sacramento is one reason the Crest Theatre was chosen as the main venue for the Science Fiction Film Festival. Since 1912, its location has been the home to some type of theatre. Though the names and purposes of the building

Century Plaza

445 Downtown Plz. Sacramento, CA 800.326.3264

have changed several times, it remains one of the most recognizable icons in the city. First used as a vaudeville performance house, it converted to a motion picture theatre in the late 1920s. This continued for several decades until varying factors forced the closure of the theatre in 1979. In 1986, the Crest was re-opened through the efforts of a local group who wanted the historic building to once again be enjoyed by the citizens of

The Andromeda Strain Invasion of the Body Snatchers Star Trek Ghostbusters Children of Men Mad Max Soylent Green Solaris

Sacramento. Since then, The Crest has hosted many events, musical performances, and films. Booths and entertainment related to the Sci-Fi Festival will be set up around this location all weekend, so plan on stopping by. Although the science fiction genre is often seen as exclusive or too “geeky” for some people, the Sacramento Science Fiction Film Festival is set up to be an introduction for

Esquire IMAX

1211 K Street Sacramento, CA 916.443.4629

those who may not know much about it. At the same time, the festival will show plenty of films that are near and dear to the hearts of the hardcore fan. Georges Méliès’ 1902 film, “A Trip to the Moon,” will show every day of the festival. This 14-minute narrative was the very first science fiction film created, and used never-before-seen special effects. A wacky adventure, this short film serves as a histori-

E.T. Close Encounters of the Third Kind The Matrix Tron THX1138 A Clockwork Orange Back to the Future

cal foundation for what was to come in future years in the science fiction world. Science fiction is essentially a form of fiction that draws imaginatively on scientific knowledge and speculation in its plot, settings, and themes. It is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and

Crest Theatre

1013 K Street Sacramento, CA 916.442.5189

technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities. There are many sub-genres

A Trip to the Moon

of science fiction as well, and the goal of


this year’s film festival is to present a series

2001: A Space Odyssey

of movies that span the entire history of the

The Star Wars Saga

genre and encompass everything the genre is


indicative of. The specific schedule of show-

The Day the Earth Stood Still

times has yet to be released, but we do know

The Terminator

which films will be presented:

Planet of the Apes

bringing back the


Oh snap! For just five thousand smackeroos

When Captain Picard of Star Trek: The Next

you can own Marty McFly’s futuristic Nikes

Generation wanted to do some research, all he

from “Back to the Future Part 2.” No way!

had to do was reach for his touch-based mini

Futuristic! “Back to the Future Part 2” came

control panel, PADD. He had an entire galaxy’s

out in 1989. Wouldn’t that make these Marty

worth of information at the tip of his fingers,

McFly shoes dated? Apparently not because

and never needed to pull out a ten pound

on its release date consumers rushed online

dictionary. So why should we? Apple manu-

and paid thousands to own a pair of these

factured the iPad, a device similar to Captain

awesome glowing sneakers.

Picard’s in many ways, so we can follow in the footsteps of the hip Star Trek crew.

Trinkets from the Science Fiction genre have made a huge impact upon our imaginations. It

Remember the flying car from Blade Runner?

is no wonder that many of these once “futur-

Or what about the flying car from the Jetsons,

istic” gizmos from the movies are now sitting

Harry Potter, and Fantastic Four? The flying

in our living rooms. So impressed was our

car was a characteristic which lent these mov-

generation, that having these gadgets remain

ies an element of fantasy. However, fiction no

fiction just seemed like a huge waste. Aside

more! The flying car was unveiled by Milner

from the Marty McFly shoes, here are some

Motors at the 2008 New York Auto Show. In

items that were born on screen but have now

2011, the National Highway Traffic and Safety

walked into our lives:

Administration cleared it for the road. Any day now, we may see a Flying Car in our rear view mirrors.

If you’ve watched Star Wars and wished that

Medical advances that were considered im-

Remember a time when holograms were

R2D2 was your best friend, then look no more!

possible in the 1970’s sci-fi TV shows The Six

considered a fantastic wonder? In the original

Various companies in Japan have made it

Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman are

Star Wars, R2D2 projected a hologram of Prin-

their goal to manufacture intelligent robots to

now a reality. The bionic implants that were

cess Leia recording a message seeking help.

clean up after us, play with our kids, and even

once a fictional stretch on both TV shows,

At the time, the idea of having a projected

challenge you to a good game of chess. The

have found its way into the lives of selected

moving holographic recording of anything

robots Wakamaru and PaPeRo are not toys

individuals around the world. Thanks to the

was incredibly awesome, yet without a doubt

that just swivel and turn. They are actual intel-

German company, Otto Bock HealthCare,

impossible. However, the technology of pro-

ligent droids that respond to the stress levels

prosthesis devices controlled by the mind are

jecting holographic images are coming closer

in our voices, to decide whether or not they

now being pioneered and prototyped. Certain

to home every day. At the 2005 MTV Europe

will listen to our commands. R2D2 may have

individuals like Christian Kandlbauer, who lost

Music Awards, the rock band Gorillaz gave the

been a piece of science fiction, but Wakamaru

his left arm in an electrical accident, regained

first holographic performance ever on stage.

and PaPeRo can be purchased online and in

the ability to drive and move naturally by hav-

Japanese stores.

ing a bionic implant. Although the technology is still currently being studied, it is predicated to be more widely available by 2013.

The technology at the time was considered expensive and not profitable; therefore, was not used by many musicians. However in 2009 the first ever virtual pop idol Hatsune Miku, created by the Japanese company Crypton Future Media, gave a first live concert utilizing the holographic technology. Since then, Hatsune Miku sold out concerts world wide and can be seen regularly in the US via Toyota TV commercials. And while all that sounds incredibly cool, it is not even the most advanced form of holograms because they still involve the use of projection on glass. In early 2011, the Japanese announced the development of laser plasma emission technology which projects holographic images in floating points of light. Suddenly, the current hype of 3D television sets don’t seem so impressive. We are now just beginning to catch up. These gadgets are ideas that were thought up by some Science Fiction geeks, forty-some years ago. We have now just begun transitioning these fantastic gizmos into reality. It is hard to imagine what type of technology Science Fiction will influence, forty years later.

r re n , th e c u u d d e n ly

of t hype

e of nt hyp e c u r re th , ly em n dde ts do es n’t se te le vi si on se

em ts do es n’t se te le vi si on se im pre ssi ve! ”

im pre ssi ve.


Trending for years in science

Lets start with monsters!

We have monsters directly

fiction, man has been placed

Monsters vary from the gross

created by man. Examples

in precarious situations with

disgusting type with huge

include Frankenstein, The Fly,

monsters and robots, but

teeth, beady eyes, ravenous

and the famous Mr. Hyde.

typically all of these situation

claws and growths oozing

These characters were cre-

was the fault of none other

puss on their back to the

ated by human motivations

then man himself. Yet why do

monsters resembling a human

or emotions such as greed,

we empathize with his plight?

so much that they blend in

addiction, and arrogance. The

Man is constantly in search

with society. They haunt man

monster from Frankenstein

of new extremes in all facets

in his closet or under the bed

was created through curiosity

of life such as technology,

as children and they devour

and experimentation with

knowledge, speed, travel,

man on space stations lost

human body parts. However,

and many others. However in

in space. First, we have to

the good Doctor Frankenstein

search of these new extremes

compartmentalize the main

was horrified by what he

he finds himself carelessly

monsters categories:

had created and ran into the

creating new problems in

streets when the monster had

the hopes of further pushing

awoken. The monster became

humanity. I set out in search

out of control and gave birth

of reasoning for why man is in

to the phrase, “I created a

this situation a lot of the time.

monster.” This is typical of science fiction in that many times the main character doesn’t think ahead of the long term ramifications.

Next we have the ever-pop-

Finally, rounding out our

Now lets talk Robots! When

ular extraterrestrials. Stars of

monster categories we have

it comes to robots man has

the extraterrestrials include

our mutated variety. Fan

typically created robots to

Predator, The Thing, the

favorites include Godzilla,

help society only to let the

bugs from Starship Troopers,

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,

technology get out of hand.

and countless others found

Zombies, King Kong, Mothra,

Examples include The Day the

in galaxies far far away from

The Toxic Avengers, and

Earth Stood Still, Terminator,

Star Wars and Star Trek. Some

countless others. These char-

Blade Runner, A.I. Artificial

of these characters come

acters were typically created

Intelligence. Typically these

to planet earth, but science

by a horrible accident or the

movies have the human race

fiction movies almost-always

collision of technology and

embracing the technology

feature man’s conquest of

mother nature. Of course the

of humanoid or the typical

other galaxies. Starship

most famous of the mutants

metal box robots assisting

Troopers shows man at war

is Godzilla. His origin lies in

the human race only to cause

with an alien race (“The

the Cretaceous time-period,

mayhem at some point. No

Bugs”) to gain possession of

where his species “Gojirasau-

other movie exemplifies

planets and their precious

rus” roamed the earth in a

man’s plight against a robot

resources. Ironically the story

form similar in scale to a large

foe better then the Termina-

shares a parallel to the most

Tyrannosaurus. Unfortunately

tor series.

recent wars occurring in the

as with most relatives of

middle east. “The Bugs” were

the dinosaurs they died off

served to the general popu-

and only two eggs remained

lace by way of propaganda

buried deep within the South

as an enemy that the people

Pacific Ocean. Around World

should unite to exterminate

War II man began testing

as they are a threat. How-

nuclear weapons near the

ever underneath it all are the

Marshall Islands resulting in a

interests of resources and

huge does of radiation for the

possession of new territory.

lone Gojirasaurus eggs. The unborn Gojirasaurus rapidly mutated and grew into what popular culture know as Godzilla

The events of Skynet basically

What do these categories

break down like this:

have in common? Man’s plight to be ruler of the uni-


Man creates computer.

verse often times can nearly


Computers improve

ruin the existence of man all


together. Granted science fic-

Computers are at-

tion movies take us away from

tached to man’s defense

our day to day lives and offer


a two hour escape from our

Man gives computer free

problems. What most people

will (Skynet computer

don’t realize is that often


times man is responsible for

Man decides that the

his situation. For example if

freewill of a computer

you ask the average person

may not be so safe and

what Terminator was all about

decides to deactivate

they would probably respond


with something like, “Oh,

Skynet decides to bite

that’s when Arnold was a

back in the hope of

robot trying to kill that one

its own survival 2029

lady—Sarah Connor.” Science

by causing a horrible

fiction movies need to evoke

nuclear apocalypse.

emotion in an audience such





as anxiety, fear, and uncerThrough this experience man

tainty, but they also serve as

becomes nearly extinct and

a vehicle for self examina-

is forced to live underground

tion. Self examination of us

beyond the surveillance of

individually, as a human race,

Skynet much like a cockroach.

a world and where our future

What man had created was

lies. Science fiction can serve

now deciding his own fate.

as a warning to how we effect our surroundings big or small.

Science Fiction has featured technology that has fascinated the imagination of audiences for years. No other science fiction franchise has impacted the technology world as much as star trek. In this infographic w e take a look at what has actually become reality over the years thanks to Spok and friends.

PHASER: In science fiction, spaceships including the Starship Enterprise snatch each other up


using t ractor beams.

Introduced to star trek

Optical tweezers are as

audiences in 1968, it

close as you’re going to

appeared to be incred-

get to a legitimate trac-

ibly small and advanced

tor beam on current-day

way to communicate

Earth. Scientists have

with the crew on the

harnessed small lasers

Enterprise. Today flip

into beams capable of

phone technology al-

manipulating molecules

lows the same remote

and moving them with

push to talk conve-


nience for connecting with your buddies.

TRACTOR BEAM: In science fiction, space ships including the Starship Enterprise snatch each other up using t ractor beams. Optical


tweezers are as close

First appeared in

as you’re going to get

the original Star trek

to a legitimate tractor

in 1987 nicknamed

beam on current-day

“PADD”. The iPad

Earth. Scientists have

from Apple arrives with

harnessed small lasers

explosive popularity

into beams capable of

in 2010. It even has an

manipulating molecules

application available

and moving them with

that is designed to


replicate the computer in the Star Trek Next Generation.

INTERVIEWER’S CUT: WITH NEILL BLOMKAMP In the sci-fi world, the marriage between

special effects and realism has always been a balancing act. These days, there are an

infinite amount of ways to wow the audience. There are explosions, complicated gadgets, tools, and futuristic weapons that can blow

your mind. In some cases, special effects can become unrealistic and when the effects in a movie just looks too fake, the audience

can lose interest­— cue the scene of Neo vs.

the Smiths in The Matrix Reloaded. Another

factor that steps into the balancing act is the emotional attachment. Sci-fi films are more

than just idealistic futures and action-packed scenes, they also touch on emotional state

of the story. A good sci-fi movie captures the

essence of the humanity and animation such as the film District 9 directed by Neill Blomkamp.

Neill became a success after District 9 became a surprise hit in 2009. The movie not only was

successful in the box office, it was commended for its special effects plus its emotional depth. But who is Neill Blomkamp? Below is an interview with Neill questioned by blogger Todd Gilchrist of


Q: District 9 was a hit mostly because it had

the aliens being this termite hive that have

an original storyline and wasn’t a product of a

lost their queen, then maybe you’re on shaky

sequel or remake.

ground. But I like the idea that they’re from this society that’s lost their queen and their

A: That’s true, that does make it a bit left of

leadership, and they need to reestablish that.

the norm. I think about this a lot—a hell of a lot actually­— and how it plays out within the

Q: The film reflected a lot with your experi-

genre of sci-fi and horror. This concept of

ences growing up in South Africa. Do you feel

“Where does that fiction [in its source material

like your message came across in the film?

form] come from?” If you look at the most meaningful science fiction, it didn’t come from

A: Yeah, I think so. For the most part, “District

watching other films. We seem to be in a place

9” is absolute popcorn. It’s absolute fluff com-

now where filmmakers make films based on

pared to how serious those real-life topics are.

other films because that’s where the stimuli

The topics in the film are on my mind all the

and influence comes from. But go back and

time and they’re very interesting to me. The

look at something like [Joe Haldeman’s 1974

bottom line is “District 9” touches on 1% of

A: The setting for the next film takes place

novel] “The Forever War” that is very much

those topics in terms of how severe they could

150 years from now. There are two cities

rooted in his experience in Vietnam, that’s

be portrayed, and I knew that when I made it.

that I’m choosing between. They would play

where the stimulation comes from. And that’s

But people got the messages. Xenophobia,

as themselves. They are not in South Africa.

my goal, really, is not to draw from other films

racism allegories—they got all of it. I don’t

The success of District 9 as made things a

in terms of the overall inspiration and stimuli.

think the film was misunderstood. Not every-

lot easier. I can get other things made. The

body loved it. Nigerians weren’t happy. They

thing I won’t forget though is that you’re re-

Q: Your budget to the film was relatively low

were pissed. And I suppose that’s fair enough

ally only as good as your last film. The whole

compared to most films involving special-ef-

because I directly named them and they don’t

flavor-the-week thing — that’s how Hollywood

fects and allowing you some creative freedom.

come off well in the film. But that was part of

works. If I screw up the next one it will be like

Usually, when studios have big budgets, they

the whole satirical nature of the film. And that

I never made District 9. I’m totally aware of

tend to please audiences.

conflict, well, that’s a South African thing.

that. It can all disappear in 30 seconds.

A: That’s exactly right and that’s precisely the

Q: Was there anything about your first feature

reason I don’t want to do high-budget films.

that threw you, or surprised you?

I’ve said no already to doing the Hollywood movie thing with big budgets. And that is the

A: Yeah. Yeah, totally. The shoot was incredibly

exact reason. I think that I’d say $25 to $45

grueling. The shoot was tough as hell. What I

million is kind of where I want to be. I don’t re-

was completely unprepared for is, if you talk

ally want to make movies that cost much more.

about the two-and-a-half-year timeline of this

If you’re James Cameron or Peter Jackson,

film, and a shoot being a hundred times longer

then you can. Because then they’ll give you

than you’re used to, all of the plotting where

that much more, and you can do what you

you are on that curve. So on day 37, you’re

want. But if you’re not them, then you’re not

shooting a scene that occurs in the first five

going to get to do what you want if they give

minutes of the film. It’s like you have to have

you $150 million. You’re going to do what they

this mental map in your head of this extremely

want, which I’m just not interested in.

long timeline, and every component is scaled up. I think that is what I was most unprepared

Q: The social conflict between the humans

for: “Holy shit, this is a massive undertaking.”

and aliens are essentially a metaphor between

So you’ve got to go through it to come out on

whites and blacks in South Africa. Were you

the other side.

concerned with politics being too strong in the film?

Q: What’s next for you?

A: No. Obviously I don’t want to make a film

A: Well, I’ve got another sci-fi film that I’m

that offends people, but the whole world is

going to start writing when I get back to

so politically correct—I’m not going to not

Vancouver, which I think is my next film. Just

do something because it may be politically

another kind of idea.

incorrect. At some point, the metaphors and allegories break down. They disappear, and

Q: Your first film was highly influenced by your

you just have science fiction. So maybe that’s

homeland, South Africa. For your next film,

where this film is a little dodgy. If you just stick

will you be going to other locations or back to

to metaphors and allegories, then you can

South Africa?

address them. But if at some point it becomes just an interest in sci-fi, and, for example,


art director

copy editor


team leader

Circuit Magazine  

Magzine created to celebrate science fiction film during while attending Sacramento State University

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