Short Documentary Films
Mars One Way – Leaving Earth Behind
“What’s challenging about watching these people is that they don’t conform to our hypothetical ideals. We find it hard to believe that a meaningless life was the motivation for the great explorers of our history.” – The Age
The innate drive to explore the unknown has been in our DNA since the dawn of our species. We have the modern world and everything in it to thank for that evolutionary trait. Mars One is trying to answer the question “where could we possibly go next?” as they embark on a venture that could establish humankind on the Planet Mars permanently. The idea is far-fetched and has been received with as much scepticism as one could expect. How could a private entity such as Mars One hope to place a human on the red planet a full 7 years before NASA? Part of the answer is that they don’t plan on bringing anyone back.
Our planet could use a spit shine, true, but despite the adversity that conservation efforts face here on earth our oceans are (for now) still blue and they look pretty damn fine sitting on a sandy beach; not to mention our mountains, lakes, cities, and forests. They are all we have – and frankly It’s hard to imagine how anyone would leave them behind. However over 200,000 applicants answered the call made by Mars One, and without meeting them we could only speculate their reasons why. This is when we discovered that we had finalists close to home, 5 locals who made the first cut.
This unique opportunity landed on us through our friends at Radiowest. The collaborative interview with Doug Fabrizio took place in a undisclosed location. Lighting for the interviews was with a pair of four tube kino flos, a set of canon cinema primes, the wide shot captured with a 24mm, the close up covered by a 85mm. Doug asked each applicant the same question “why do you want to go to mars?” followed always by a pause from the contestants. Slowly each voiced their motives, which refused to align with the idealistic expectations of space explorers. It became clear that these characters were more openly “odd” than your common citizen; and for some, it was more about getting away from Earth than reaching Mars.
From a few there was a sense of the ultimate escapism from a life they were not happy with on earth, from underlying depressions and social anxiety. Social misfits with no grounding sense of purpose or direction, and possibly, a naive quest for stardom amongst the stars. Could contestants coming from these motives rise to face life in close quarters with other humans, deal with the reality of the conditions on a planet not suitable for life; or even have the determination to tackle the years of training in preparation before take off? Questions we’re interested to see answered.
In the others we observed, under an analytical approach, a childlike romanticism about space travel and an noble adventurer’s spirit. When asked “why”, one contestant fired back “who wouldn’t seize this opportunity?”. With all it’s challenges and dangers these contestants are chasing something that only a handful of people in history have experienced.
The production took us into each characters lives, traveling from the suburbs to the west desert of Utah. We only had limited moments to shoot the content we needed, the R3D Epics were always prepped prior to knocking. Pulling up to a locked gate at the base of a mountain, to visit Cody: a physics student/beekeeper; getting lost in a suburb to find Kent: a professional pilot. There was a subtle foreshadowing of the roles these contestants could play. At each location and with each contestant we found content that matched the tone of their interviews.
We couldn’t predict how this documentary would evolve, but as these individuals spoke to us a dialog began that laid open an intimate windows into the human condition. Releasing this piece we were excited to observe how it affected it’s viewers, as we were sure it would stir up the sediment in the human psyche. So many of us have shelved our childhood dreams and hide away our disorienting feelings of purposelessness. These narratives pulled those common threads.
The mounting dialog that ensued and the popularity of our Short Documentary “Mars One Way” shortly after it was released spoke in numbers and words – and lots of them. Reading the tens of thousands of comments seem to only enforce the mental and emotional state of a few of these contestants, and reaffirm why they seek to leave this planet behind. Most of all, “Mars One Way” became these contestant’s first reality check. Just as brutal as the red planet, could be the critics of our peers.
As with any powerful drama, Mars One Way created a lot of controversy. When it hit the internet, it caused a stir, something that’s becoming increasingly hard to do. In all the skepticism surrounding Mars One, one this is for certain, the project and it’s applicant’s hit a nerve. Along with our fellow ‘Earthlings’, we remain unconvinced of the reality of this mission, but we have absolutely tuned in. We wish luck to the contestants in all the challenges they face down the road.
If your curiosity has been sparked for Mars One, start with these credible sources…
To learn more about Mars One and the people behind it…
- Director Skylar Nielsen
- Interview Doug Fabrizio
- Produced Vita Brevis Films | Radiowest | Elaine Clark
- Cinematography Josh Fletcher
- Cinematography Ian Rigby
- Editing Catura Jenson
- Web Producer Marcus MacDonald
- Story Editor Stephen Lupsha