Luke Sparke’s ‘Occupation’ sold to multiple territories before Oz release


Dan Ewing in ‘Occupation.’

Filmmaker Luke Sparke had long wondered what it would be like to walk out his front door and be attacked by aliens.

After his debut film Red Billabong, Sparke fleshed out his idea to examine how a group of families and friends struggle to survive an invasion and wrote the screenplay of Occupation.

Sparke and fellow producers Carly Imrie and Carmel Imrie recruited an A-list cast which includes Temuera Morrison, Jacqueline McKenzie, Dan Ewing, Bruce Spence, Stephany Jacobsen, Felix Williamson, Charles Mesure and Trystan Go.

Temuera Morrison in ‘Occupation.’

They raised the budget of $6 million from private investors and shot the sci-fi/action movie on the Gold Coast and northern NSW last year.

Clay Epstein’s Film Mode Entertainment acquired the international rights and screened the film at the American Film Market.

That resulted in a raft of deals with distributors in the US (yet to be named), Japan, China, Vietnam and other Asian markets. Epstein aims to close deals with European territories at next month’s European Film Market in Berlin.

Pinnacle Films will release theatrically in Australia, probably mid-year. The deals mean the producers have recouped “a good chunk” of the budget, Sparke tells IF.

Taking on board the feedback from distributors and audiences at test screenings, the director tightened the narrative by deleting 10-15 minutes. The running time now is 1 hour 50 minutes.

Morrison plays a father who is desperate to protect his wife and kids. Ewing is a former footballer who has fallen on hard times and is engaged to Jacobsen’s character, with Go as her brother.

For spoiler reasons Sparke is keeping Spence’s character under wraps and he will only say that McKenzie plays a “hard-bitten personality.”

The visual effects were handled by the Byron Bay-based Cumulus VFX, Vancouver’s CVD VFX and the UK’s Nvizible, while Melbourne’s  Sharp FX did the prosthetic make-up.

The target audience, says Sparke, is the “pop culture crowd.”