Not every filmmaker has the luxury of a generous Hollywood studio budget to create spectacular cinematic space visuals, but with a little ingenuity, passion, and imagination some astonishing results can conjured up.
Hashem Al-Ghaili is a Yemeni molecular biotechnologist, science communicator, director and producer whose YouTube videos on scientific breakthroughs have been watched by millions.
Now he's written, directed, and created the special effects for "Orbital," an upcoming indie sci-fi film about megastructures and orbital rings with incredible visual imagery that rival many mid-budget Hollywood productions. The film's impressive trailer has already been viewed by 1.2 million fans on YouTube and the ambitious movie is expected to be released sometime in late 2022.
Unforeseen events force him to utilize these resources to launch the most complicated engineering project in human history: The construction and colonization of orbital rings around Earth. When these magnificent megastructures start to inflict ecological damage to our planet, Randof battles to keep them attached. This crisis quickly becomes an unimaginable conflict between humans inhabiting the colossal rings and the population living on Earth's surface.
Megastructures like orbital rings are fascinating due to the mind-boggling deployment of materials, astronomical costs, and construction timescales that eclipse any human lifespan. Aside from questionable logistical decisions about the rings' scope and scale in "Orbital’s" trailer, from what we’ve seen on display for this micro-budget endeavor, there's a lot to be excited about.
"I have always been a fan of spaceships and megastructures, and I thought combining them with Earth, a planet we live on, would make them more relatable," Al-Ghaili shared on Reddit. "The film is more than one hour long. It highlights the events that led to the construction of the rings and their aftermath. How they affected our planet and what conflicts they created in future societies. The film, which is a documentary-style, was shot in Germany, India, Nigeria and France. I hired some freelancers to do some filming abroad because I couldn't travel to all these countries during the lockdown (I'm based in Berlin)."
The storyline involves an ambitious entrepreneur named Peter Randof who creates a corporation that harvests resources from the asteroid belt. After the venture's incredibly lucrative success, Earth is left with far more resources than it needs.
"On the technical side of things, I'm using Cinema 4D, Octane Render and Adobe After Effects for the VFX," Al-Ghaili explained. "The editing is done in Premiere Pro. Really excited about this project.
"Not a big budget actually," he continued. "I'll announce it when the movie is out. Since I'm the only one doing all the VFX work, I'm saving a huge amount of money on what could have required a massive budget. Instead, that money goes to buying 3D models from online stores to use in several scenes. Basically everything is out these days when it come to VFX. All you need is just passion, practice, a good rendering computer and more time spent learning stuff online."
Starring Stacy Thunes, Jeff Hallman, and Phillip Sponbiel, "Orbital" has no exact release date at this time but it should be available on streaming platforms at some point in 2022. We'll keep you updated on any new details when they're available.
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Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.