Luke Sparke aims for awesomeness in ‘Occupation: Rainfall’

Izzy Stevens and Temuera Morrison in ‘Occupation Rainfall.’

Four weeks into the 12-weeks shoot on Occupation: Rainfall, writer-director Luke Sparke declares the sequel will be four times bigger in scale and ambition than the original Occupation.

The filmmaker is delighted with the performance of Ken Jeong, who has filmed his role as an American character who holds the key to the mystery of the rainfall.

Sparke was happy to encourage the Crazy Rich Asians and Hangover star to improvise, observing: “We let him loose to ad lib. He brings his unique style to the role, a very dry character. He had the crew in stitches at times.”

Co-written by Sparke and Felix Williamson, the sequel picks up two years after the intergalactic invasion of Earth as survivors in Sydney fight back in a desperate ground war. As casualties mount, the resistance and their unexpected allies uncover a plot that could see the war come to a decisive end.

Temuera Morrison, Dan Ewing, Stephany Jacobsen, Aaron Jeffery, Zac Garred, Izzy Stevens and Trystan Go reprise their roles, joined by Lawrence Makoare as a friendly ally, Vince Colosimo as the leader of a group of survivors in a mountain village and Tamala Shelton as a military figure.

The budget is north of $10 million, which the producers Carly Imrie and Carmel Imrie raised from private investors, pre-sales negotiated by Film Mode Entertainment’s Clay Epstein and by cash-flowing the Producer Offset. Monster Pictures will release in Australia/NZ.

Vince Colosimo (centre) in ‘Occupation: Rainfall.’

The bigger budget (the original cost $6 million and was filmed in six weeks) enabled production designer John Andersen to oversee the construction of three massive sets: a secret military base, a government installation and underground sewers. The production is being shot on the Gold Coast, Newcastle, Sydney, the Snowy Mountains and Alice Springs.

Sparke says the sequel will be completely accessible to audiences who have not seen the first film and there is a new breed of aliens. There are two intersecting storylines: an Indiana Jones-style boys’ own adventure; and scenes of death and destruction as the survivors battle the aliens and count the cost of the resistance.

Occupation: Rainfall is darker and grittier and we will have about 1,000 visual effects, four times as many as the original,” he says. “This is an entirely different beast. We’re aiming for awesomeness in every scene.”

There is a ready-made audience for the sequel in the US, where the original was released by Saban Films and Lionsgate Home Entertainment. It had a limited theatrical run but, says Sparke, there have been more than 75,000 downloads on VOD.