Embarking on a sequel to a film which hasn’t been released yet may be a bold move for Luke Sparke but the filmmaker is super confident of the franchise potential of Occupation.
The feedback from the international distributors which acquired the sci-fi thriller, which stars Temuera Morrison, Jacqueline McKenzie, Dan Ewing, Bruce Spence, Felix Williamson, Stephany Jacobsen and Trystan Go, encouraged the writer-director to proceed with a follow-up.
He’ll start production of Occupation 2 in NSW and Queensland in August and is working with Los Angeles-based casting director Barbara McCarthy to find US or UK leads.
“The rest of the world is keen to see the story continue,” Sparke tells IF, who collaborated on the script with Felix Williamson, who contributed to the dialogue of the first film.
Saban Films will launch Occupation theatrically in the US on July 20, eight days after Australian release via Pinnacle Films.
Clay Epstein’s Film Mode Entertainment has sold the film, Sparke’s second following Red Billabong, to virtually every major market except China, where offers are still being considered.
Set in a small Australian country town after an alien invasion has engulfed the planet, the plot follows a small group of survivors who form an army to fight back against vastly superior enemy forces.
Morrison plays a father who is desperate to protect his wife and kids. Ewing is a former footballer who has fallen on hard times and is engaged to Jacobsen’s character, with Go as her brother. McKenzie plays an Army Colonel.
The sequel will be produced by Carly Imrie and Carmel Imrie. American production executive Todd Williams, whom Sparke met through his US agent Abrams Artists, will serve as co-executive producer. Sparke is also repped by US manager Seth Nagel of KDX Entertainment.
He will work with the same visual effects team consisting of Byron Bay-based Cumulus VFX, Vancouver’s CVD VFX and the UK’s Nvizible, while Melbourne’s Sharp FX will again handle the prosthetic make-up.
Two advance screenings in Brisbane were sell-outs and the film is playing tonight during Monster Fest at Event Cinemas on the Gold Coast and will screen at Melbourne’s Cinema Nova on June 6.
Carly Imrie said: “Every filmmaking team has their next project to go on to, so we decided that we’ll stay in this well for a little while longer. The social media and pop culture fans response to this home-grown genre film has been overwhelming.”
Sparke said: “To paraphrase another franchise, ‘Big things have small beginnings.’ The Occupation team has been very excited by the international response to our little Australian invasion story. During the process I fell in love with the possibilities in this new world we had created and the stories we could tell.”
The film hints at a third edition as it ends with a kicker which, Sparke says, will show where it will go next.