Watching for Iron Sky

While doing some research about the movie I mentioned yesterday, Riot Film Collective’s The Cosmonaut, I came across a number of references to a similar project using a crowdfunded and crowdsourced approach, Iron Sky, by a film collective based in Finland (though supported by people around the globe) called Energia Productions, a group that first gained notoriety for making the Star Wreck film series, an ongoing cycle of Star Trek parodies.  One of the films in that series, Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning was distributed through the Wreckamovie platform, which allows for a more collaborative filmmaking process (the Wikipedia article appears to be written by a fan of the site, but gives some idea of what the platform can do), but as the site suggests, it allows filmmakers to harness the abilities of the crowd to contribute their talents–special effects, adding subtitles for different languages–to the making of a film.

Iron Sky itself is based on a satirical alternate-reality premise, in which a Nazi leader makes a major anti-gravity discovery in 1945 and launches several spaceships from a secret base on Antarctica, which land on the moon.  From there, the Nazis would build an invasion fleet that would return to earth when their power was sufficient, and in the year 2018, they return to earth.  The film itself is currently in pre-production (or at least the earliest stages of production), and through the blog (and web video sites such as YouTube), the crew has been releasing footage, including this teaser trailer, that establishes the tone of the film and helps to illuminate the filmmaking process.

Like a number of DIY filmmaking projects, I’m intrigued here by the degree to which the filmmakers have been able to integrate the task of creating a culture of anticipation around the Iron Sky film while also creating material that seems to fit neatly into the spirit of the Iron Sky, creating something that seems transmedia by design rather than merely due to the need to market or promote their work.  The announcement of the led actress, for example, seems to play off of the subject matter of the film in a rather creative way, while this interview with the scouting director combines a pedagogical element, revealing part of the production process, with the themes of the film, suggested by the old-fashioned radio tower seeming to burst out of the side of a globe.  Like The Cosmonaut, it also appears to be a truly global phenomenon, one that recalls some of the arguments raised by Henry Jenkins in his discussion of “pop cosmopolitanism.”

Like a number of projects, they have also made an effort to use Google Maps and similar tools to visualize the locations where the interest in a film might be the highest.  They also encourage fans to “buy war bonds” (using the iconic Rosie the Riveter logo, no less), which involve small investments in the production of the film.  Investors receive a copy of the DVD plus several other pieces of swag, including dog tags that tie into the war film premise.  In this sense, Iron Sky, like The Cosmonaut, seems to be building upon some of the transmedia work that helped to make District 9 into a successful film, one that engaged with social issues in a creative, entertaining, and enlightening way.

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