Last year, I came across a fund raising campaign for Africa. It was called Ward 48. What intrigued me about this particular campaign was a film production company started it. It’s not often you see a film production company give back in a public way. This both inspired and encouraged me to learn more about the film REVOLT. I believe the work that they have done helped a small community grow and realize its potential. I hope you enjoy my interview with Film Director and Writer of Revolt, Joe Miale, and find it an informative and delightful read.
REVOLT is a story of humankind’s last stand against a cataclysmic alien invasion. Set in the war-ravaged African countryside, a U.S. soldier and a French foreign aid worker team up to survive the alien onslaught. Their bond will be tested as they search for refuge across a crumbling world. (Source: IMDB) The film is written by Rowan Athale and Joe Miale. It is directed by Joe Miale. It stars Lee Pace, Bérénice Marlohe, Amy Louise Wilson.
In your approach to making Revolt, did you choose to focus on the human experience of a cataclysmic invasion?
Most alien invasion stories are about basic survival, but by now the genre has matured. We saw REVOLT as a chance to make a different kind of invasion film that explores more nuanced themes. When the movie begins, the world is already largely destroyed— the invasion has already occurred and they are already here. I like to call it a mid-invasion movie. Bo wakes up in the middle of the end of the world, and he’s suffering memory loss. He knows he’s a soldier, but doesn’t know why he’s in Kenya, doesn’t know his mission, doesn’t know his name. This is the question at the center of the film: how do you find your place in a crumbling world?
When you see a lightning bolt in the movie, it’s real!
You shot the film South Africa. By the way, a wonderful country. Tell us why you chose this location for the film.
REVOLT is set in Kenya and I felt it was critical we film in Africa. I wanted real African sunsets, red roads lined with the right trees, and as many African actors as possible. We’ve seen plenty of alien invasion films set in the biggest cities or the American Midwest. I wanted to look at this from a different angle. And I wanted it to be as authentic as possible because this kind of science fiction is best when it’s grounded in reality. Ultimately, filming in Kenya proved unfeasible, but we found South Africa to be the best choice. We shot in and around Johannesburg, a city built on gold mines, most of which are now depleted. As a result there are many abandoned facilities which are incredible filming locations. The crumbling concrete, chipped paint, and rusted metal is beautiful on camera. But there is also an inherent sadness to these industrial ruins, quite fitting for our story of a broken world. Some of these locations were very remote and difficult to access, others posed safety concerns, and the city is known for spectacular electrical storms. When you see a lightning bolt in the movie, it’s real! But South Africa is a beautiful country with amazing people. So many movies are made there that aren’t set anywhere near Africa, but they shoot there because of the excellent crews, talent and facilities. A great, unique place to make a film.
How has the community embraced the film? Did they play extras in the film?
The vast majority of our cast and crew were locals from either Johannesburg or Cape Town. We flew in just a handful of people, such as our two lead actors (Lee Pace, Bérénice Marlohe) and our cinematographer (Karl Walter Lindenlaub, who knows a few things about alien invasions.) Some battle scenes required hundreds of extras, all local, often hired from the areas in which we filmed.
During production, you started a crowdfund campaign, to help the community you were filming in. Tell us what inspired you to do this.
As soon as we arrived in South Africa, we were looking for ways to give back. It felt wrong scouting a township for our film— a piece of entertainment— while the townspeople themselves were hungry and in need. We hired locals often, but those jobs are temporary. We wanted to leave a lasting impact, and Ward 48 provided that opportunity. We are all so proud of the campaign and its contributors. I’m especially proud that my first movie, dreamed up on my couch in Los Angeles, is benefiting real people 10,000 miles away in Ward 48.
The campaign was a huge success. What’s next?
The fundraising was indeed a huge success, but spending the funds in an enduring way has been challenging. One of our executive producers, Josh Horsfield, recently posted a progress report after his latest Ward 48 visit. Thanks to the campaign, Ward 48 now has a soup kitchen feeding hundreds of people every single day. According to Josh, the next step is to align with a local organization that can help advance further projects.
Some production companies say casting can be a challenge. How were you able to make the process go smoothly? How did you chose the actors for the leading roles?
Casting is arguably the biggest decision a director makes, as it affects every single moment in the film. Bo (played by Lee Pace) is a difficult character to portray. He is a lost American soldier, a bit stubborn and fully determined to “join the fight.” But his memory is totally blank. And playing amnesia without falling into cliché is a delicate balance. But I knew Lee was up for the task. Lee Pace is the ultimate professional, often the most experienced person on any set. The first time we spoke he seemed eager to tackle these challenges, relishing the workout. And it was often grueling. The story unfolds through Bo’s perspective, so Bo is in every scene. That means Lee was on camera all day every day. Lots of dialogue, lots of action and fight scenes, lots of dusty exterior locations. Sometimes shooting this film was a real battle, and Lee was a real soldier. Nadia Rue (played by Bérénice Marlohe) is foreign-aid worker, a doctor from France, but the invasion has forced her to violence. As a result, her inner light is dimming. She is losing herself and becoming unstable, and that needed to be apparent from her first scene. So the moment I met Berenice, I knew she could deliver that dynamic. She is both radiant and dark at the same time. I felt she has this live wire buzzing beneath the surface, and I needed that energy for Nadia. Our first meeting was over coffee, and we ended up at that table for four hours. We hit it off and from there, it was a simple, gut-level decision.
After production wrapped, what has been your biggest takeaway from the film?
As a writer-director, making one’s first film is a massive education. A thousand film schools an hour. In ways this was the biggest little production I’ve ever heard of. We crashed cars. We blew things up. We filmed monkeys and giraffes. Dozens of locations. Hundreds of extras. And hundreds of VFX shots. I learned everything about making a movie and I was a different person when I finally got back home.
When can movie-goers expect to see the film in theaters?
REVOLT releases later this year. Our online fans have been really cool, very enthusiastic, and extremely patient. And now, things are about to start happening.
Thank you for speaking with me about the film! It’s greatly appreciated.
Please tell our readers how they could continue to contribute to the Ward 48 project. (Note: campaign currently not accepting additional funds.)
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Just a nerd girl living a geek lifestyle of writing, filmmaking, photographing, and designing. Managing Editor of Your Film Review™. Believer in God/Jesus. 안녕 I'm also a Director under @DVDNetflix, where I write reviews, talk film, and more. Follow me on Twitter.