Wednesday , July 17 2024
Proxima B

Austin Film Festival Exclusive Interview: Talking with an Alien from Proxima B

Invaders from Proxima B brought hilarity and space aliens to this year’s Austin Film Festival. The Austin Film Festival (AFF) focuses on recognizing writers’ and filmmakers’ contributions to film, television, and new media. For 30 years, AFF has been a platform for open discussion, a place where the screenwriting community comes together to pass on experience, craft, and the writer’s journey from script to screen. Its 2023 run went from October 26 to November 2.

Proxima B

Invaders from Proxima B combined elements of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Rolf, and modern internet culture into a delightful and touching tale.

The opening titles and first scenes projected a craziness that made me think I was about to see a live version of The Simpsons. But as it progressed, the manic weirdness evolved into a touching story about a family under pressure, strained by typical issues exaggerated by the mystery surrounding a space alien who lands in their backyard. But, despite the seriousness, there is a fart joke.

The Alien

The craziness mostly comes from an alien named Chuck. Chuck, and the father of the invaded family, Howie, are both played by writer/director/actor Ward Roberts. Roberts has been a familiar face on TV screens since the early 2000s.

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Ward Roberts, Samantha Sloyan and little Bo Roberts play the family visited by aliens

Howie tries to help Chuck, but Chuck doesn’t always tell the complete truth about why he decided to land on Earth. This complicates things for Howie and his family when they discover the truth. There are others trying to find Chuck.

The Others

Other characters expand the fun and complications in this story. Grey’s Anatomy veteran Samantha Sloyan plays the mom. Jeremiah Birkett plays a pest exterminator who seems to channel an Old Testament prophet. A father-son team of alien-focused bounty hunters, played by Richard Riehle and Mike C. Nelson, chase Chuck but run into complications caused by father-son issues.

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Ester Terrestrial, played by Sarah Lassez, is the ultimate influencer

My favorite character: A UFO-specializing internet influencer named Ester Terrestrial, played by Sarah Lassez, complicates things for everyone. Her online commercial perfectly captures current internet culture.

And, there are reptilian aliens who like to eat people.

Talking to Chuck

I decided to go to the source of all this confusion and talk with Chuck the Alien directly. Here’s how it went.

I’ve been talking with some people around the spaceport and there are rumors that you are related to some guy they call “The Cookie Monster.” Is that true?

False. Now, do Cookie Monster and I know each other? Yes. Are we friends? Most certainly not. Let’s just say we don’t see eye to eye on oatmeal raisin and leave it at that.

That gentleman you worked with on the project, Ward Roberts – was he traumatized at an early age by Alf or Mork? What got him interested in aliens? 

The trauma stems from Ward’s babysitter taking him to Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan at three years old. Rest assured he won’t be making any films about earworms ever. Alf, however, was and remains a huge influence and inspiration for both Ward and myself. Dude is a genius.

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Chuck the Alien ready for his interview

Your story involves romance. Kind of like Romeo and Juliet mixed with Freaky Friday. Was alien romance the inspiration for the movie or did that come later?

First off, shout out to The Bard and my girl Lindsay Lohan. Now by the time I came on board the script was fully cooked, but from what I understand the romance came later. Ward was sitting around one night playing with his kiddos and a puppet when voilà…the movie struck him like a photon blast. What if an alien crashed in our backyard and all hell broke loose? But then how do you take a classic premise like that and make it fresh? That’s right. Alien romance.

I’ve heard that it’s good for celebrities to be open with their fans. What do you really think of Earthlings? 

Depends which ones you’re talking about. My fans and the Earthlings I made this movie with are as beautiful, loving, and creative as any intelligent organism in the known universe. The guy who cut me off on La Cienega, not so much.

You’re kind of fuzzy. Is that considered cute on your planet?

If you’re not fuzzy on my planet you’re a pet at best. At worst, you’re tonight’s dinner.

Can we look forward to seeing you in future films? Maybe a sequel?

Once us actors get a fair deal and this strike ends, my agents say the offers will pour in. We’ll see. That said, Ward and I have been bouncing ideas for a Proxima animated series, or maybe even live-action. 

More Info

You can find out more about Invaders from Proxima B on its Instagram or X page.

For information about next year’s Austin Film Festival, or the festival’s year-round events schedule, check its website, X postings, or Facebook page.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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