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Film Status Update

By | Filmmaking, Movies, Production Art, Uncategorized | One Comment

As the audience for the They Rode the Flying Saucers grows on social media, I’m getting asked this question more and more frequently: “when will the movie be available?”  This is a logical question, and it’s one I find myself asking repeatedly.  The answer is a bit more tricky.

The Integratron

I have been in production on this film for close to nine years.  Originally,  I intended it to be a short doc using animation set to archival audio of the Contactees; but then it took on a life of its own.

At the beginning of production, I lived in Los Angeles, and in close proximity to me were a number of the historical Contactee sites: Giant Rock and the Integratron were a two hour drive away in Landers, Desert Center three hours away.  Mt. Palomar, where Adamski lived, was two hours away near Vista, California.  Just down the road from me was the Empire Center mall, which was once the Lockheed factory that employed George Van Tassel and Orfeo Angelucci.  The empty field where Angelucci had one of his contact experiences is now an apartment building where I briefly lived.   The Aetherius Society’s US headquarters were five blocks from my office.  I couldn’t ignore the opportunity, so I started shooting footage of these areas to use in the film, which was the gateway drug to shooting interviews.  And soon I had way too much content for a short documentary.  This was now a feature.

L to R: Myself, Glenn Steckling of the Adamski Foundation, and Alan Tolman, a friend of George Adamski’s, before our interview at the Oak Knoll Campground on Mt. Palomar, formerly Palomar Gardens.

In the intervening years, after I’d gone to conventions, met more people connected to this story and conducted more interviews, the project has bloomed into something that could potentially sustain a limited series.  I have dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of content.  Not all of it is golden, and some of it is quite academic and would only interest the dyed-in-the-wool fans of the subject.  In the last year, I have committed myself to paring this down into a manageable format with all the best stuff.  I have completed a rough cut and am on the way to a finished second cut of the film.  While it is still too long for the average person to sit and watch, it’s getting there.

But there are a number of steps yet to accomplish: animation and graphics, music, sound mix, rights and clearances, acquisition of stock footage, etc.  Without going too much in depth as to how the sausage is made, suffice it to say that my original goal that I established at the beginning of this year of having it completed by November 20 (the 65th anniversary of Adamski’s meeting with Orthon at Desert Center) is looking more and more unlikely.  This is also the reason for the lack of recent updates to this blog: time spent writing blog posts could be spent finishing the film.  For that, I apologize, but hopefully this will explain why.

The good news is, I suspect most of the production will be accomplished by then.  It is just a matter at that point of the various hurdles of securing distribution, fundraising, etc., to get this all finished and off to the races.

Desert Center, a few miles from Adamski’s infamous 1952 meeting with Orthon.

Which is really my way of saying, stay tuned: I’m going to be begging for money at some point, and I’d love for the fans of this blog and the various outlets on social media to be part of this process.  I want this movie to be the best it can be, and it will take a significant investment to finish this film and get it out to you.  But it will happen.  I’ve stuck with this film for the better part of a decade, so don’t worry that it will never see the light of day.  I’ve put too much time and energy into it to do that to you.  Or me.

Illegal Aliens?

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A few days ago, I posted a link on Facebook to an article about the White House’s new “criminal aliens” hotline.  Though the hotline was intended to be a place to report undocumented immigrants dashing across the border, it has been flooded with calls reporting space aliens.  It is the latest in an increasingly long line of actions aimed at protesting the Trump administration’s draconian policies regarding immigration.

Then, reader Loren (thanks Loren!) directed my attention to these two articles, which go into the legalistic particulars that pertain to the arrival of extraterrestrials on Earth.  I’m no legal expert, so while I find them interesting reading, I can make no claims as to the soundness of their logic.  In the first article, the author explores the three possible types of first contact: Remote (contact via radio telescope, such as was depicted in the movie Contact), Direct (a craft landing at a site that is well-suited for the purpose, such as an Air Force base), or surprise (a ship landing in a park or in the middle of a major city, as in the film The Day the Earth Stood Still.)

There are only vague ideas of jurisdiction in these events, though the author does say that due to the state of emergency declared by Truman in 1950 and also by Nixon in the 70s, the President has broad authority to deal unilaterally in an alien contact scenario.  It is likely that in the last example, a surprise contact, that the being or beings would be detained and whisked away to a safe space in order to protect national security (and, presumably, to extract advantages in technology that could be used over ones enemies).

These legal arguments make certain assumptions; namely that they are “alive, three-dimensional and physically detectable, intelligent and possessing a ‘will to live'”.  Indeed, if Douglas Adams’s Hooloovoo, the “hyperintelligent shade of blue” were to show up, I feel there is little we could do about them.

However, there is precedent for just this sort of occurrence–a surprise contact by a being meeting all the above criteria–in Contactee lore.

In his book Stranger at the Pentagon, Dr. Frank Stranges tells the story of Valiant Thor, commander of the Victor-1, a ship from the planet Venus.  According to the book, Victor-1 landed in the outskirts of Alexandria, Virginia in 1957.  Immediately upon landing, he was detained by police.  (Granted, this was at Thor’s request)

Valiant Thor and friends speaking at Howard Menger’s UFO convention.

According to Stranges, Valiant Thor was then taken into custody at the Pentagon, where he lived for three years.  While this was portrayed in the book as more of an asylum situation as opposed to detention, what was made very clear is that Thor was not detainable.  He remained in a suite in the lower levels of the Pentagon for three years out of the goodness of his heart.  He had arrived on Earth to spread a message of love, to give secrets both scientific and philosophical to the upper echelons of government in order to raise the evolutionary level of the planet.  Specifically, Strange says, he met with President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon.  They were less than receptive, saying that such secrets would destroy the stability of governments on the planet.

And so, Val just left.

There was nothing to hold him down, nothing we could do.  The only thing compelling Valiant Thor to abide by human laws was his willingness to do so.  Once that willingness no longer served his purpose, he chose to end his incarceration and simply vanished.

This example is a clear demonstration of the distinction between what the Contactees tell us the Space People believe and what our own human tendencies are.  On Earth, when faced with people of a slightly different cultural background or shade of skin, many people call for stronger laws and border walls and deportation squads.  There is fear and a desire to keep full communion with our fellow humans at bay, leading to an ever-expanding cycle of distrust.  The space people, from their “flying saucer’s eye view”, do not see such petty distinctions.  Their philosophy is summed up, ironically, in the words of Richard Nixon, speaking to the astronauts of Apollo 11:

Because of what you have done the heavens have become a part of man’s world, and as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to earth. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man all the people on this earth are truly one—one in their pride in what you have done and one in our prayers that you will return safely to earth.

 

Jack Kirby, comics pioneer and…contactee?

By | Contactees, Mythology, Ramblings, Science Fiction, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Jack Kirby, for those of you who are not familiar with him, was a pioneering artist and storyteller in comic books.  While Stan Lee gets most of the credit, it’s Jack Kirby who is largely responsible for this:

FantasticFour

Sorry, Jack, I don’t mean it.

Okay, not so much the movie, but he was a guiding force behind the creation of the Fantastic Four, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, the newly cinematic Ant-Man, and even Captain America back in the 1940s, when Marvel Comics was known as Timely.  It was this period of time, after he was drawing Captain America punching Hitler in the face and before he drew The Thing facing down Dr. Doom, that Kirby turned his attentions to more esoteric sci-fi and even philosophical adventure stories.  As observed by Christopher Loring Knowles in this blog post on The Secret Sun, it was during this period that Kirby started exhibiting some remarkably consistent traits in his storytelling that continued for the rest of his career.

In 1959, Kirby “wrote” a story called “The Face on Mars.”

faceonmars

I say “wrote” in quotation marks because Kirby was not credited as a writer, but it was no secret in the industry that he was heavily (and sometimes solely) responsible for the plotting, drawing, and writing of his comics.  What’s interesting about this story is that it involves astronauts landing on Mars and discovering a giant stone face, left behind by an ancient civilization on the red planet.

Mars Face

Sound familiar?

This story was published in 1959, 17 years before the Viking spacecraft took the infamous “Mars Face” photograph.  Ideas of ancient civilizations on Mars made popular by the likes of Richard C. Hoagland and Mike Bara came decades later.  In and of itself, this is an intriguing coincidence.

But the Face in Kirby’s story is only the page 1 grabber.  What’s really interesting happens on later pages, when an astronaut climbing into the caves inside the face discovers an ancient Martian race under attack by another spacefaring species from a mysterious fifth planet between Mars and Jupiter.  The enraged Martians, seeking revenge, then obliterate this planet, creating the asteroid belt.  This whole thing turns out to be a hallucinogenic memory recording that the astronaut experiences as if it were real.

The idea of a destroyed fifth planet is a common idea amongst various proponents of the ancient Martian theories, and has been making the rounds since the 1800s.  Known today as the “disruption theory” or “Exploding Planet Hypothesis”, it’s the idea that the fifth planet was destroyed by Jupiter’s gravity, planetary collisions, or warfare amongst ancient civilizations.  Over the years, this hypothetical planet has been called Phaeton, Tiamat, Astra, Lucifer, and Maldek.

Though this idea makes a certain amount of logical sense, most scientists disagree with this hypothesis, saying that the asteroids are actually remnants of the building blocks of the planets from the early solar system that are still left around in a gravitationally weak spot in the solar system, like cosmic dust bunnies in the corner of the room.

As Knowles points out, Kirby’s idea of an ancient Martian civilization came long before Zechariah Sitchin’s theories of ancient aliens or Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods.   However, it did not come before the Contactees.  It seems to me, though I have no supporting evidence whatsoever, that Kirby was likely either a fan of the works of many of the mid-century Contactees, or he was a Contactee himself.

Though the Contactee movement got going in 1952 with George Adamski, it was at its peak in 1959.  Joining the crowded field of Contactees were George Hunt Williamson, Orfeo Angelucci, George Van Tassel, and Richard Miller.  All of these men told tales of ancient civilizations  on a destroyed planet, the debris of which became the asteroid belt.  Angelucci wrote a book called The Secret of the Saucers, in which he claimed to have taken over the body of a space brother named Neptune, who lived on an etheric plane on an asteroid in the belt that was once part of a larger planet that had been destroyed in war.  Richard Miller claimed to have channeled a being who discussed the fate of Maldek, as did Hunt Williamson.  Van Tassel also mentioned these ancient aliens in his works, and Maldek is of crucial import to George King’s Aetherius Society, who point out that Maldek’s destruction is a warning that we should be wary of our own destructive tendencies.

FaceOnMars_3

In this frame from the story, our main character describes something else that Contactees (and later, Experiencers) have come to call “downloads”, in which large volumes of information are fed directly to their brains.  Was Kirby getting this idea from the Contactees, or was he describing this from personal experience?

It’s easy to dismiss all of this as fiction, because Jack Kirby was a master storyteller, after all.  But it’s the fact that he kept coming back to these ideas again and again that I find intriguing.  (I won’t discuss them here, I’ll send you over to Christopher Knowles to read about them.)  Why couldn’t he let the idea of ancient aliens go?  It seems like he was dealing with something intensely personal.  But what made it so personal?

This idea that Kirby was perhaps in contact with something outside himself is suggested in another post on that same blog, The Secret Sun:

Starting in the late 50s, Kirby began receiving transmissions that seem to transcend the boundaries of time and space. He buried it all in allegory (read: “wacked-out sci fi”), or rather, translated whatever he was picking up.

Indeed, Kirby’s penchant for prophecy was pretty staggering.  Is it possible that he was a Contactee?  What was going on in the mid-50s that was giving people all these similar ideas?  Some might suggest the early days of LSD and various hallucinogens, or the resurgence of the Theosophical Society and its ideas.  But one never knows…maybe the Contactees were really making contact.

Moby and the Martians, Together at Last?

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Sometimes, I wonder how anyone gets anything done.  There is simply so much going on in the world that regardless of how active you are and how hard you try, you’re going to miss 99% of anything that happens.  

For the last several years, and even more so in the last few months, I have been heavily focused on the Contactee movement and the likes of George Van Tassel and George Adamski.  And yet, despite that laser vision, I took my eye off Moby.

I like Moby.  I enjoy his ethereal music.  And on December 21, he will be performing a concert inside the Integratron in Landers.  Having spent some time in the acoustically weird space of the shimmering white dome, I can only imagine how amazing the music would sound in there.

The event is unfortunately sold out, and I only now even heard about it.  I’m very sad about this, so if any of you charitable Contactee-friendly folk out there have a spare ticket laying around, I know a guy who could use it.