Interview: Martin Gooch | ALICE ON MARS

PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Martin Gooch is UK based indie film maker who is responsible for cult comedy movies such as The Search For Simon. His latest project is an adaptation of Robert Rankin’s novel Alice on Mars , which is currently raising funds via crowdfunding website IndieGoGo.  We caught up with him during the last leg of the campaign to find out more.

What’s Alice on Mars about?

Alice on Mars is based on the brilliant book by Robert Rankin and, as you would imagine, follows the antics of Alice (of Wonderland) and her further Adventures on Mars. And jolly good fun it is too.

What made you want to do this project in particular?

I've spent many years making movies and following DEATH and The Search for Simon, my first two feature films, I really wanted to team-up with someone and not just work on my own. I've known Robert for a Long time, being a fan of his books and we had a beer one evening and he said he gave me a copy of the book and he had written "film me" inside and said - what about Alice on Mars?

And I said - "Ok."

What is it about Robert Rankin’s work that made you want to turn it into a movie?

Robert doesn't just write books he creates worlds. I have been drawn to his worlds for the last 20 years. I feel that the worlds I create for my films are in the same dimension as the world’s Robert creates and it felt very right to be writing the Alice on Mars screenplay. Robert is also a really great bloke, and really, all we want to do is make movies and work with people we like spending time with.

Is Steampunk in danger of becoming over done?

Quite possibly, but this will be my take on steampunk, and not just steampunk. As a film maker and a director you have to have a vision, and my vision is not just to steal everyone else's steampunk. Just as HG Wells and Pat Mills were writing what is now considered steampunk before steampunk had been coined as a genre, I will make my film and evolve the genre. I'd rather it was Victorian sci-fi than pure steampunk.

After all, everything has to start somewhere, and before George Lucas had made Star Wars, or before Ridley Scott made Alien, sci-fi was a totally different thing, and each movie progresses the genre and it evolves and that is what I hope to do with Alice on Mars.

We'll be doing stuff that no-one has done before. And if we don't - then what is the point?

But yes - there will be beautiful ladies in corsets, rayguns, space ships, tripods and Martian mayhem on a planet wide scale. And kiwi birds. Lots of them.

How different is your Alice from classic Alice?

Our Alice is older and wiser, she's had adventures: travelled around the world and done many things, she is now about 20 years old, so has grown up into a strong independent woman who has seen things you people wouldn't believe…

She is a great lead character and it is about time we had more strong female leads. She is more Lara Croft or a female Doctor Who than a meek wall flower. Once we've done this we'll have a new movie heroine we can be proud of.

How tough is it for an indie film maker to get a sci-fi movie produced?

Incredibly tough. Tougher than the shoe leather in Charlie Chaplin's boots. There is no money for independent films at all. You have to go and get it. And even when you have made your movie getting it seen by the sales agents and distributors is a battle itself. People only want to know who is in the movie and if it doesn't have a famous person in it then they are generally not interested.

So we already have a famous person in it - Alice herself.

What particularly bit are you looking forward to shooting?

I think the scenes in the Martian King's palace will be great fun, but also the fight between the Red Queen, Alice and the Hatter at the frozen Martian North Pole will be fantastic, and I cannot wait to see my vision realised. It's going to be absolutely beautiful (with a capital B).

What other projects do you have planned?

I have many films I'd like to make, and each one must be better than the last. I have written the screenplay to Deathtrap Dungeon based on the Fighting Fantasy Gamebook of the same name by the legendary Ian Livingstone. This is a wonderful project and we are working on taking it further.

I have a movie set in the Grand Canyon we want to shoot soon, as well as an English Western called The Slaying of Slade, A WW1 story, A massive sci-fi epic (we can hope), and many, many others, as well as a personal favourite called Were-pig. I've hopefully got at least 30 more years of movie making ahead of me, and I would like to explore many genres and time zones and worlds before it's finally time to hang up the old clapper board.

If I want to see this movie, how can we help make it happen?

Tell everyone.

At the moment I am setting up the financial structure and the business so we can provide tax relief for people who invest which seems to be the best incentive to get people to invest in movies and once that is done then we will be out and about getting the film funded.

But the more people who know the better.

We can't out-Hollywood Hollywood, we'll never have budget that big, but we can write better scripts and make more interesting and emotionally engaging movies and we will do it that way.

If you like movies then there is no reason now why you can't be part of the movies.

This is the democracy of digital.

The Alice on Mars crowdfunding campaign ends on May 18th 2014, and can be found here:
www.indiegogo.com/projects/alice-on-mars

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