Talent On Tap – The Spear Sisters Resurrect Alien With Ore

Making films requires tremendous tenacity, incredible imagination, stellar storytelling and a knack for problem solving. If you play well with others, it can also carry much weight. After all, the film industry is a small town. If you possess all these qualities times two, then you might be a twin; as in the Spear sisters. Raised on Bowen Island since the age o two,  this multitalented duo is taking the film industry by storm. Sam and Kailey enrolled into the four-year Film Program at Simon Fraser University. Since that time they have been putting pen to paper and bringing their stories to the big screen.

Their films have a message and their stories always find their audience. Having seen one of their films, CC last year, about a robot nanny at the Crazy8’s competition I can tell you that this talented duo is here to stay. They can do compelling, they can flirt with fantasy and they can dust off a gem of a story and give it a second chance at life. Did I mention that they are also huge Sci-fi fans. No genre seems to be off limits and as they build their brand they are making a buzz. When we heard they were one of six teams that had won a competition in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Alien franchise, we knew we had to talk to them to get two scoops of the inside story. The competition was sponsored in collaboration with 20th Century Fox, Tongal and IGN Entertainment.

We met for a coffee and they were incredibly candid and generous with their time as they described the competition process and their filmmaking journey. Since they are twins and were both answering my questions, I decided to forgo the identity of who was talking and combine their answers.       

 

“You’re the only Canadian team in this competition, how did you first hear about it?”

“We actually found it on Twitter. I was in the midst of writing something else when I hopped on Twitter and strolled through looking at some pictures and video that my dad had posted. There was this one video that caught my eye with Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in the Alien film. I remember stopping and looking at the video thinking for a moment ‘how great Alien was’. I then realized that there was a note on the post for a call out to filmmakers to pitch original short film concepts to the Alien franchise. It was definitely a stop everything moment, where I called across the house to Kailey that they’re looking for filmmakers willing to do a short Alien film. It was only six days to the original pitch. We had to come up with beat sheets for an original Alien film. We sent them three stories by the end of the six days and one of them were chosen, Alien: Ore. After that we had 10 days to write the script, make a video pitch and a full treatment. Originally they asked for story pitches and then they narrowed it down to 18-20. After that group had submitted their packages, the six winners were chosen.”

 

“When you say treatment package, what did that entail/include?”

“It included our inspiration, visuals, where we were going with the tone, what our set would look like, what our character would look like. Pretty much everything about what we’re going to shoot and who our team was.”

 

“Have you had people or a team in mind when you went into this?”

“There are some people that we’ve worked with before and with this one, our producer Victoria Burkhart was on the project from the beginning. We’d worked with her on a previous film called CC and we also asked the Talbot brothers, Graham and Nelson who we’ve also enjoyed working with on two previous short films. They were onboard from the beginning as well, so we started with a small core and as the ball began rolling we had to bring in more people.”

 

“Once you had been chosen as one of the winning six teams, how much time did you then have to complete your film?”

“We had a final delivery date for the beginning of January 2019. I believe from the time we pitched in July to getting through and winning, we started shooting in Oct.”

 

Incidentally, Sigourney Weaver is one of the biggest reasons the sisters love Alien so much. They are huge fans and huge supporters of her work in films.

 

“When will the film be released?”

“It will be released on April 19th on the IGN Entertainment website, www.ign.com and then later released on the official Alien anthology website.”

 

“Has anyone been able to see it since the completion?”

“The first big screening of it was at a Press screening in LA on the Fox Lot. It was really great because it’s the first time we got to see the other films and meet the other filmmakers. We also premiered at Wondercon on March 30 along with Alien: Specimen, another winner. We sat at a panel which was great; there were lots of people dressed up and it was a lot of fun.”

 

“How did it feel to watch all the other films in the competition?”

“Being able to watch them all together as a group was wonderful because it’s a tightknit group. Everybody seems quite strong in a balanced way so as a group we felt strong together. Being able to see what everybody did with exactly the same competition specs and the same guidelines was really cool.”

 

“Is this the first time you’ve entered a competition like this?”

“Three years ago Tongal, Lionsgate, Women in Film LA, Facebook and Volvo partnered together to hold a competition looking for filmmakers to make short films for the Twilight Saga. It was titled The Mary Alice Brandon File and we won it. It was Facebook’s first original content piece. We also made a film for the Crazy8’s competition called CC about a robot nanny.”

 

“Did you find that winning the Twilight Saga competition gave you the confidence to move forward into this competition?”

“I think it definitely helped and we may not have been able to enter this competition without it because we had to show past work. Because we’d also worked with Tongal before, we sort of knew what it would be like. We were pretty excited too.”

 

“Since you’re both involved in film and writing, who is the one that usually comes up with the ideas first and do you have different strengths?”   

“We both do, we really come up with the ideas together-ish. One person might come up with an idea and the other will jump on quick.  We have similar strengths so we do a lot of back and forth. One of us might write a scene and then send it over to the other person, do some rewrites and then write another part of the scene. It’s quite a fluid process.  Even when we’re on set we’re similar where one of us might be behind the monitor and another might be with an actor and then switch off.”

 

“Do you find that you’re always on the same page when it comes to your vision?”

“Yeah pretty much, which is very helpful. We’re pretty lucky that way where we’ll have the same vision of what we want. We might have different ideas on how we want to accomplish that but there’s more ideas brought to the table on how to get there.”

“Have you written up more stories for future projects?”

“We have a couple scripts written up that we’re stoked about. We have a Hamlet adaptation that’s one of our babies. We love Hamlet so that ones always with us but it requires a larger budget. We’d like to try and find a home for that one and we’ll concentrate on writing scripts with a more doable budget.”

 

“Is there a particular genre that you’re more interested in?”

“We love so many different genres where the character is really developed and then you build a world around them, which gets us super excited. We love Sci-fi, we love Fantasy; I’d really love to do a fantasy film at some point.”

 

The sisters add that it’s great to be able to showcase the highly skilled visual effects talent within Vancouver.         

  

“How difficult was it to put a team together and find the right skilled talent to put this film together? Was it a matter of building relations or was it merely knocking on the right doors?”

“We asked people that we wanted to work with and the people that were available. We had an incredible team and it was a very positive experience all the way through. Everybody poured their talents into the project and we felt wonderful working with everyone.”

 

“Were you able to tour the Fox Studio while you were out in LA?”

“We did, we had a bit of a walk around. The historic buildings were so cool, they had plaques on the outside wall to indicate the shows that were shot inside the studios.”

 

“What aspect of film interests you both the most?”

“Directing and acting, for the both of us. We also like to write and have lots of stories to tell but we’re also passionate about working with other great writers.”

 

“Can you tell me more about your Hamlet screenplay/adaptation?”

“It’s a feature and we actually put it up on stage right before Twilight. We did a production of it on stage in Vancouver to test out our ideas. It was a great experience and now we want to see it on screen. It uses the Shakespearian classic dialogue but is set in contemporary times.”

 

“How was it received by the audience?”

“Really well, we had lots of great feedback. People that had seen the play before said they found the new changes exciting and people that have never seen the play understood it completely even with the classic dialogue. I think the way that we approached it brought it into a place where people understood the context of it, which is what we really wanted to do. We wanted to show that it’s not an unobtainable language that you can’t relate to and that it is still relatable and people can understand it still today. That’s what we want to do in the film.”

 

“How do you go about dividing up the work when you take on a new project?”

“When we’re working on a script, it depends on the stage its at. If we’re further along then usually we’ll be working on a section and Sam will take the first half; I’ll take the second half so we’re not making edits on the same thing and then we’ll pass it back and forth.”

 

“At what point do you believe you’re ready to make a feature film?”

“Right now (laughter).”    

 

“Do you like opening the trunk to dust off old stories and give them life again?”

“Yes.”

 

“Do you enjoy history pieces?”

“We do, we both love looking at history and how it forms so much. Even when we’re writing now and with Sci-fi we often look back at historical records. On Alien, when we’re looking at creating a mining colony, we were looking at mining towns in the ‘70’s for the details.”       

 

ALIEN: Ore – As a hard-working miner of a planet-mining colony, Lorraine longs to make a better life for her daughter and grandchildren. When her shift uncovers the death of a fellow miner under mysterious circumstances, Lorraine is forced to choose between escape or defying management orders and facing her fears to fight for the safety of her family.  Written and Directed by the Spear Sisters

I can’t wait to see the 10 minute film Alien: Ore and I highly suggest you watch it too. The Alien franchise bridges generations and these two women are great ambassadors. Sam and Kailey Spear want to entertain you. Let it happen and become a fan.

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