By Katherine Oostman
When it came time for Jake Theriault to make his Intro to Directing project, he shot for the stars—literally. The Hollow Sun, a project that began in the summer of 2014, not only involved the usual stresses of creating a film but also mandated build- ing a spaceship inside Asbury’s very own studio.
Theriault said his idea came with a simple question: “What if someone destroyed the sun?” After watching the TV show Firefly, he was inspired to sit down and write a script “that deals with the political and environmental and religious significance of what would happen if the sun was destroyed.”
Although his idea is feature-length, Theriault selected nine pages for the class’s project requirements. What better way to introduce his characters than in their spaceship dubbed The Hollow Sun? Theriault determined he could build his set for $3,000. Much of the funds were raised through generous donations via IndieGoGo.
Theriault explained, “We had to go the whole way. I knew it would be a bigger financial endeavor than most students would probably commit to. But it was a story I wanted to tell and I wasn’t going to go halfway with it.”
As Theriault hopes to use the short to sell production companies on the feature, he saw the project as an investment. Throughout the semester, Theriault kept in communication with his set de- signer, Tim Saunders, and his father, Dave Theriault back in Florida.
Jake Theriault and Saunders met in 2007 while Theriault participated in theatre at Circle Christian School. When Saunders heard about the project, he replied, “I’ve never built a space- ship before.” Thus, the adventure began.
In addition to constructing the bulk of the film across states, Theriault comment- ed on another challenge he faced: “One of the things I was worried about is we knew we couldn’t touch anything until [the] sitcom came down.” The week after “Friends Like You” wrapped, the crew spent several days painting flats in the studio until four in the morning. Once the set rolled in from Florida, as- sembly began on the spaceship’s crew quarters, engine room, hallway, and bridge. By midnight Friday morning, it was up.
Theriault noted, “It took us close to 15 hours to set everything up and decorate it.” Many of the added pieces to give the spaceship character came from an aerospace surplus store. The floor is made of paper and tape, the walls of wood, with some add- ed tissue paper, grates, and foam tubing.
“I have seen enough sci-fi in my lifetime to know what looks good and what looks bad on camera,” Theriault explained. “It’s not necessarily a matter of how much mon- ey you spend on it…it’s the little details that really count.”
The crew shot Friday and Saturday, and struck Saturday evening. The set build alone only ended up costing about $1,900. “Even if this turns out half as good as we want it to, we will still have done something no one else here has ever done.”
Amanda Secen, the producer of The Hollow Sun, explained why this tough proj- ect done in a short amount of time was successful: “The main difference was how much passion there was for the project. Everyone was super excited and passionate about doing their part I think because first, Jake was so passionate about this project, and second, it was so different than anything else that has been done here at Asbury that everyone wanted to see it succeed. Also, it was a sci-fi film, which is generally not a genre that people do because, let’s face it, it’s hard to do. You can’t just go out and scout a spaceship to shoot in. We had to build a specific set for this film.”
Theriault attested his success to an amazing team behind him and the personal investment each individual had. “It was one of the happiest things for me as a writer and director when I pitched it to people [and saw that] they were as excited about it as I was.” While many students will not attempt to build a spaceship for their projects, Thei- rault hopes that this is the beginning of a more professional and imaginative process for Asbury’s film department.
Secen voiced the opinions of all the crew: “I am proud to have my name attached to this project.” Theriault hopes to be able to share this piece at the 2015 Highbridge Film Festival, as well as make the feature version when- ever opportunity arises.