We had the opportunity to interview the director of Beyond Skyline’s and Skyline3S for an interesting talk of science fiction horror and l claustrophobic tones. Also martial arts in film
AJ: So Liam, how did this whole trilogy come about because you wrote skylines the first one. So how did we get involved in that project first to kind of build this end game era going for it in the new Skyline3s film?
Liam: Um, the first one I was, I was working at hydraulics and, um, I was living in that building, uh, definitely in one of the lower floors and the boss, uh, my boss, Greg Strauss, and bought this top level, uh, penthouse. And so we were kind of, um, pretty kind of DIY filmmakers and we would shoot like any locations that we’d have access to. So when I first walked into his penthouse and we looked around and were like, okay, we have to make something here. It’s got this big view of LA it’s kind of a, you know, a unique, uh, look onto the city. And we’d already been kind of shooting stuff on the rooftop, uh, illegally at night, uh, for our own projects. So we, we kind of, um, you know, quickly kind of huddled together and was like, okay, what can we do here?
Liam: And, uh, I think, uh, th that’s a lot of what you can see in the plot of that movie is that it’s like, you know, you wake up, there’s something outside. Um, you know, we kind of played the blinds, um, as this progressive thing until you finally come out on the rooftop and you have the big reveal that yes it’s aliens. Um, so that was kind of all the Genesis. And then, um, for beyond skyline, it was like we were in post and, uh, people were excited about it and they asked us to come up with a SQL. And I think even right from then before that movie came out, we knew we wanted to go into a more action direction. Um, and then during the marketing of it, you can tell them that like people’s appetite was not for this really grounded, uh, claustrophobic, thriller.
They loved the big Sapphire kind of action parts of it and wanted more of that. Um, so for beyond skyline, I just tried to lead all the way into that and then got really, really lucky by getting, um, eco yarn from the raid movies and kind of outing this whole genre match kitchen sink approach. Um, and so that’d be on skyline. It was because of working with them and Frank and this kind of international team, I kind of just had the seed of like, Oh, it’d be cool to do. Like international team of badass is go to the alien planet. Um, but I didn’t really know how to get there. And then the last day of that shoot, we did the wraparound with Lindsay Morgan and she was, you know, to kind of show that Rose going to grow up into this savior for humanity. And so once, uh, once we came up with that and shot with her and, and I saw how, how talented she was, that she could kind of, you know, own these really quiet moments, command the room as this leader, and then kind of crack wise with her big alien brother. I was like, okay. I feel like we have a really cool unexpected direction to go on a third, if we’re lucky.
AJ: Yeah. And when you had gotten a chance to make skyline3s, uh, what was some of the pitches that you had to make skyline? Because like you said, you had this idea from the second one beyond skylines thought, it sounded like you had that idea of on expendables on an alien planet with everybody knew and got involved. So what was the pitch meetings on the idea is that you’ve got a mixed bag for its skylines when it came out, miss bummer.
Liam: That’s pretty much it, it was like, so, I mean, it was like, we shot that last scene with Lindsay February, 2017. And then, um, they were like, what’s the SQL pitch it’s due by May, 2017. So it was like three months. I was like, okay, I kind of see it now because I’ve been thinking about this, um, this, this future world. And I’ve been thinking about kind of going to the alien planet and it kind of came together pretty quickly. Um, but yeah, there was a, there was a certain Expendables. Um, I think the, originally it was just like a bigger cast, you know, and then once you kind of get into, uh, actually budgeting and producing like those, uh, those space costumes, or they’re not cheap, I had to consolidate the cast into a smaller amount of people, um, which, uh, which ended up all working, working out great. But that’s kind of, uh, it’s funny that like, if I go back to that five page pitch from, from can from May, 2017, it is pretty much the story. Um, you know, there was a bigger space battle at the beginning and just bigger do different things all around along the way. But, um, th the core of, of, of Rose and Trent and, uh, in that journey to Como one, it was always kind of intact. It just kind of just kind of fit.
AJ: And, uh, we can’t talk much about the newer one because it’s spoilers. It’s not really out yet, but I’m then wanting to talk about them, not boats, gardens, guns that you had, like after the credits weren’t going in the film and seemed like everybody was getting re had really great chemistry with each other. So how was it working with everybody on this one too? Yeah.
Liam: Now there’s a little bit of a tradition. We started on the beyond skyline, um, credits. And so we just kind of ran it back for, for skylines as, as, as a fun sort of like curtain call, but it was a special movie, I think, um, just because of how unlikely the movie was. And, um, everybody was sort of, you know, just kind of looked at each other as equals and friends, that it was a really, really fun movie to make. I mean, I talked to a lot of different people from that movie and everybody kind of had a grieving process when we wrapped, because it was so fun to make. And, and, uh, and everyone made so many new friends and stuff like that. And we’re in this really beautiful city of Vilnius Lithuania, which is, um, it’s kind of like, it’s like a small European, slightly medieval town, a lot of beautiful churches everywhere. And it was just a really unique summer to spend kind of, uh, playing, you know, aliens with your friends. And, and it was, we had a really great stunt team and, uh, and luckily I had a very physical cast that could do a lot of amazing things on their own, but yeah, I just think it was, it was definitely something special
AJ: And, uh, knowing Matt and can be on skylines. Matt came out, I think on many of those on demand, if I’m correct when it was released or like it had like an VOD on videos on demand
Liam: They call it like the limited theatrical VOD, which means it’s like in theaters for like a week in the U S um, when it’s on VOD right away. Uh, but we, I really actually liked that window or that release model, um, compared to an all streaming release, just because, you know, I didn’t get to go to the movie and see it in the theater where the ones, your friends, when it was in, it was in one of the theaters in LA. So, uh, I think we went to a twice and we had fun doing that. And then it’s obviously on VOD for friends and family around the world. They want to, they want to rent it, they want to buy it. And then it came out on disc, um, in January. So like a month or so after that, it came out on disk and Blu-ray, and then a few ones after that, it was, it was on streaming. So it kind of had like these kind of fun windows, um, that, you know, you don’t get if it’s just like immediately on streaming and that’s it. Yeah.
AJ: And that was kind of in the beginning of that kind of window, that they were dealing with videos on demand when Beyond skylines came out, because I don’t know, skylines, the box office kind of underperformed. Do you think it would do better now if it was released in that side of window and skylines was released with the woman in actual home run and then on demand, do you think it would’ve gotten a wider audience than it did when it first came out?
Liam: Um, yeah. I mean, I, it, it kind of like, it depends, right? Like, I think underperformed, like back then is so different than now, because I think it’s still made like 21 million domestic on like a $10 million budget. So it’s like, like any movie getting to 20 million domestic, but even before the pandemic now is like, okay, that’s a lot, but back 10 years ago that wasn’t, um, so it’s just kind of interesting how relative it all is, but I still, yeah, I still think because they did that big theatrical wide release of the first movie. Um, it, it made, you know, I think like 80 million worldwide, that’s why we’re still able to make these sequels because there was such a massive amount of PNA span to raise awareness around the world. Um, but yeah, I do think that that ended up, it was more, I think, more critically that’s what hurt the film is that it was kind of sold as, as this action adventure. And it was really just more of a, it was more of a festival sort of midnight screening movie then, uh, in a real big screen, uh, crowd pleaser.
AJ: Yeah. And that’s the feeling I got because when it came out me and one of my friends launched it at his house and it just didn’t feel like that big science fiction film that day then making around that time. But it felt like one of the seventies drived in science fiction films, that it could be like next led in marketing. And that could have been an issue as well. Like,
Liam: I mean, yeah, we w we don’t even have to beat around the Bush. I mean, it was totally misled in marketing, but, um, yeah, it’s, it was, it was definitely more of a, of a night of night of the living dead riff. That was sort of structurally the more of the, the riff of what we were working off of. And it was kind of like mashing together, you know, an independence day with the night of living dead. So it was like using an alien invasion will be with a zombie movie structure. And, um, I think, I think if it had been sort of a discovery, uh, instead of, um, trying to, to make it an advance, it definitely would have helped, uh, the movie’s reputation. But on the other hand, there’d be no skylines. You know, the fact that the fact that we lucked out and got that big release is, is what we’re still, um, you know, is what’s allowed us to continue to make these films.
AJ: And one final question, Liam, uh, and skylines the new one, the visual effects are really stunning. I mean, it was like a C grade science fiction film, but it looked like starts at the troopers when you’re watching the special effects. So how was it like working with the visual effects team with this project?
Liam: Uh, it was, it was, uh, it was great. Yeah, the, the VFX, um, th the main vendor was a lip-sync out of the, and, um, you know, we worked really hard. I mean, they, they, it was, it was a lot of shots that kind of all came within March to October of this year, um, that we had to kind of do during the pandemic. But yeah, I’m really happy with, uh, especially the, the, the, the matriarch character, our, our sort of, uh, our main villain on this movie. It was a real cool combination of an in-camera suits and that we created from our original creature effects team from, uh, beyond skyline in LA kind of updated our harvester suit. And then we created a CG face from scope in Berlin, and then lip-sync animated on that face and CG tentacles, and it all kind of comes together seamlessly.