Mars One is a Dutch company that aims to put the first human settlement on Mars in 2023, just 10 short years away. This short film was made by a South African team and premiered at a press conference last week in NYC to officially announce the call for entries to the Mars One astronaut selection program. The conference was moderated by Emily Lakdawallah, Senior editor of the Planetary Society, and Mars One panelists Bas Lansdorp and Nobel Physics laureate Prof. Dr. Gerhard t’Hooft.
So far, the program has seen more than 40,000 paying applicants submit their entry films and details.
The film was created by animating still photographs from NASA’s early Mercury and Gemini missions and features narration by British actor and voice artist John Rye. Now&Partners are the local company behind the film. We asked Writer/Director James Yeats Smith, Assistant Director Frank van Rooijen and Executive Producer Daniel Siegler a few questions to find out what working on a project like this is like.
What was your first thought when you heard about the project?
JYS: Our initial response when we first heard about the mission was astonishment, not so much because of the mission to Mars, but that it was a private, NGO doing it. NASA has made great strides in landing rovers on Mars, but thus far hasn’t declared any concrete plans for a manned mission, so in light of that, Mars One really is blazing the trail for manned interplanetary exploration.
FVR: We’d been in touch with the Mars One team since 2012 when the opportunity arose to do something special, and the launch of the astronaut selection program proved to be just that.
DS: A project like this doesn’t come around everyday and the entire team at Now&Partners was extremely motivated to deliver a product that would do the mission justice.
What was your process?
FVR: It was vital for us to establish a level of believability with the film and we decided to steer clear of 3D animation for fear of it feeling hypothetical or fictitious. Instead, we plunged headlong into the depths of the NASA archives to find those misplaced, forgotten gems.
JYS: After enough crate digging we discovered such rich imagery that we made the decision to delicately animate a series of still photographs taken by NASA astronauts. It was a lengthy process, with much iteration, but we’re all ecstatic with the result.
In search of the appropriate sound track, we linked up with fellow space enthusiast, Markus Wormstorm who added to it the range and spaciousness that suited the contemplative nature of the film.
What was it like working with Mars One?
DS: The Mars One team really understood what we were trying to achieve and working with such an imaginative, brave and efficient group of people was a tremendously rewarding experience for us at Now&Partners.
Writer & Director: James Yeats Smith
Assistant Director: Frank van Rooijen
Executive Producer: Daniel Siegler
Animation: Anwar Mcwhite
Score: Markus Wormstorm
Additional Photography: Kope | Figgins
Narrator: John Rye
Find out more about Mars One, watch the applicants’ videos, and try to make sense of it all at applicants.mars-one.com.