Given how closely related to the games the movie will be, you'd think director Michael Nankin (second from right, above) would want to get in and play Guerilla at least. But the director of a few Battlestar Galatica episodes has no interest in technology. "I have a book that's a calendar," he says, "and I take notes on index cards."
Is that possible? Don't you need to at least play through the story of the game to make and direct a movie like this? "No," says Nankin. "We were in a very long collaboration with THQ, and I think Andrew Kreisberg, the writer, spent more time analyzing the game and drawing from it, that once I came along, a lot of that gold had been mined already. So then I was able to take the script and make it work."
The film does borrow things from the game aside from the overall story and characters -- concept designs were shared across the two productions, so Red Faction weapons and ships will make appearances on SyFy (though don't hold your breath for the ostrich hammer). The movie filmed in Bulgaria during the winter ("as close as you can get to Mars," Nankin jokes), and the crew found a few locations that were surprisingly fitting. A huge Soviet-Era steel mill, "25 miles long," serves as the Martian city of Eos.
Nankin says he used the game as general inspiration more than anything else. "Anytime we had a choice to make between what we wanted and what the game had," he says, "we just went with what we wanted. We were loyal to the game when it served us, which it did a lot."
Red Faction: Armageddon
Nankin calls Origins "a movie about the core elements which inspired the game. It's a family drama, redemption, loyalty, sacrifice, and those juicy archetypal, dramatic, and emotional elements are what the movie's about and also what the game's about." In addition to Nankin's sci-fi TV experience, Smith has been part of the Stargate universe for a while, and actress Kate Vernon, another Battlestar alumni, will play the role of the Matriarch, leader of Guerilla's savage Marauders. The movie has a solid group of storytellers behind it -- none of whom, they all admit, have actually played the games just yet.
THQ's Lenny Brown says the movie is "all about generating mindshare on the IP." He expects that the movie will both bring fans of the series out to watch SyFy, and maybe send eyeballs the other way as well. "What we're hoping to get out of this is people who aren't necessarily used to playing games, but then want to interact with them. That's the big win," he says.
And SyFy's Mark Stern confirms at the panel that they, too, hope the movie captures some attention. "The intention was to have this be a potential back door pilot," he says. Of the cast and director, he professed that he and the channel "wouldn't mind having this talent on a series."