Gino McKoy is a writer, musician and filmmaker. A bit of an auteur, you might say. He’s working on his new sci-fi film LUMINA, shot in Morocco.
Well, you know, I’ve always been into sci fi. Because I grew up – actually, my first – I was three years old when I first started reading the Star Wars books.
And my mom has me on cassette reading all the Star Wars books at that time, you know, three and a half you know, stuff. So like, you know, people are amazed at that, that I was actually reading Star Wars books at that time.
I think my inspiration started there, but for the movie LUMINA, I wanted to do a movie where you could see how someone is affected psychologically by a member of their family or someone that they love being abducted by aliens.
Ah, wow. Wow. That’s interesting. So you went for the psychological aspect of it.
Yeah, yeah. So you see that their friends, what the person they’re in love with, is affected by it. And its seeing how the – they own – the entire ensemble of cast – would react to something like that, and what they would do, and how it would affect their journey, and stuff like that. Just seeing the whole entire character arc.
I think I wanted to something like that because X-Files explored like, you know, abduction and stuff like that as well, but it was only really like one person really being affected by it in their entire journey, so I wanted to see how like, a whole group of people, like an ensemble, like how they would be affected psychologically by an abduction and how they would deal with it and their journey.
As I understand, this was shot in Morocco?
Yes, the entire film was shot in Morocco.
You get to Morocco and I mean, we’re both Caribbean guys, we like the warm weather. That’s the way it is. And, what was it about Morocco that said, hey, this is where I wanna make my movie?
You know, it’s interesting. Um, at first I was going to shoot in um, Malta, actually.
Yeah, because our good friend, who is a producer on the movie with us, he’s Maltese. And um, he’s very close to us. He works with Lynda McKoy, my mother, who’s a producer on the film, with the financing and all that stuff. And we wanted to shoot in Malta, but as you know, Malta doesn’t have any desert. And Tunisia came up in the picture, because you know, George Lucas shot there, you know, and Tatooine is there and everything else, and like I’m a huge Star Wars fan. For me, I thought it was that was great, but they didn’t have the studio space.
We had to build all the interior sets and everything else, you know, the sound stages, so Morocco came into the picture. And Morocco has such a rich history of filmmaking, you know, they’ve done so many great films with Ridley Scott and everything else, you know, and all the sword and sandal stuff. So I said, okay, they have the stages, they have the breadth of locations, a wide range of locations, and they’ve got great crews that are equivalent to the crews I work with in Los Angeles. We went, and that’s ultimately why I decided to shoot in Morocco.
The interesting fact about that is, it’s actually the first science fiction movie to be shot in its entirety in Moroccan cinematic history.
Wow. It’s about time then! (Laughs)
Because they’ve got all the exteriors, and sword and sand and stuff, from Gladiator and everything else and Kingdom of Heaven. Because the studio we were at was Cloud Studios in Ouarzazate. And, um, behind the studio is the big Kingdom of Heaven set. They’re known for doing those type of big historical movies. But it was their first science fiction movie, and the biggest, ever done in Moroccan cinema history. You know, the biggest stages ever built – and sci-fi stages – and the only sci-fi stages ever built – sci fi sets, actually, ever built on the sound stages in Moroccan cinema history.
So we created history with this. I didn’t even know that until about three weeks into pre-production and the art director comes to me, because he’s worked on some very big movies. You know, he worked on Old Guard, with Charlize Theron, and a number of other films there, and he was like, yeah. These are the biggest sets I’ve ever built in my life, and the only ones for science fiction. So we created history in Morocco and I didn’t even know I was doing that. (Laughs) So I guess it was divine, that we got led there basically to do that, you know?
I thank God for that opportunity and stuff, and I thought it was really great to see see um, us bringing something new to the country that is known for doing sword and sandal and historical pieces, and not sci-fi.
Because everyone really goes to Australia, New Zeland, you know they shoot…Europe, Canada, the US like you know, I come originally from Toronto. That’s where most of the sci-fi sets are built. You never hear of people building sci-fi sets in like, Morocco and stuff, so you know, I thought that was really, really unique. But yeah, that’s why we chose Morocco, and I realized that, you know, we created history while we were there.
Watch or listen to this space for more about LUMINA. For Byte, this is Tony Tellado.