Aurora Fernley’s sci-fi short PULSAR out now on YouTube Channel DUST courtesy of Gunpowder & Sky.
PULSAR – the acclaimed sci-fi short from Aurora Fearnley – has made its debut on YouTube channel DUST, courtesy of distributors Gunpowder & Sky.
PULSAR stars David Gyasi as an intergalactic peacemaker who rejects his final mission to save an endangered planet – and jeopardises the all-female ex-convicts crew of the spacecraft he’s stowed away on.
Loosely based on the story of Jonah, PULSAR was made through The Pitch, a film fund that provides a £30,000 budget for emerging filmmakers to create visionary short films based on Bible stories.
Previous critical successes from The Pitch include Promise and Leash, while PULSAR itself has played over 30 festivals worldwide – including Portland, Flickers’ Rhode Island, Kerry and Trieste Science+Fiction – and won numerous awards, including Best Actor for David Gyasi and Best VFX.
PULSAR writer/director Aurora Fearnley is currently working on a feature film with BFI Vision Awardee Jude Goldrei at Luna Lander Films. Here she talks about the challenges of working on a VFX-heavy short, attracting high-calibre actors and why the source material spoke to her.
Aurora Fearnley why did you want to make PULSAR?
Making a sci-fi film had always been my dream but due to the ambition and scale of the type of films I was aiming to make I found it hard to finance. By winning The Pitch I was finally given the creative freedom to build a distinctive and a stylized visual world that would truly stand out. There is a lot of excitement around PULSAR and I believe that is because there are so few female directors marking high concept large-scale sci-fi films, particularly in the UK.
It was quite a journey to bring this from the page to the screen – how did you find the experience?
I knew my ideas for PULSAR were ambitious but nothing could have prepared me for the challenges it took to complete this film. PULSAR is my first adventure with a VFX heavy project; I think I was exceptionally lucky to have such talented artists so deeply invested in the process. The film took four years to complete, which only makes me more proud of what our committed crew accomplished together.
David Gyasi had just worked with Christopher Nolan before he came to shoot with you – how significant was that?
Having David play the lead character of Jonah in PULSAR was superb – and we were lucky he signed up, seeing as he was on the press tour for Interstellar at the time. He’s a brilliant actor and really grounded the heightened world. Having him on board also opened up the casting to up and coming female actors. Jessie Buckley joined as our lead rebel Cassa. It’s been so exciting to watch her meteoric rise as a BAFTA breakthrough talent and BIFA most promising newcomer. While shooting we knew we had an extraordinary cast and throught he three years of post-production that followed, it was the exceptional performances from these actors that kept the VFX team pushing to deliver their best work and meet the talent on screen.
What were the challenges of adapting a Bible story as source material?
The story of Jonah particularly struck me as it had so many fantasy elements while at the heart was a hero’s journey of self-sacrifice and redemption. I love the pagan history of the UK and our folk tales, so I’ve concentrated on the mariners who hold superstitious beliefs about the sea and curses. A great whale that eats the main character – that is fun to reimagine! I personally think that deep space and deep-sea hold so many parallels and connections that it wasn’t hard to transpose one environment for the other, it felt like a natural fit. What’s so relatable to Jonah in the modern age is his humanity. It is his faults and fears, his judgment and prejudice that allows him to feel justified in his actions. The inner struggle of Jonah is relatable to everyone who is asking for a second chance.