Chewing the hog fat with Space Trucker Bruce
In the not too distant future, a breakthrough in gravity control makes space travel incredibly cheap and wildly popular. The most valuable substance in the universe is hog fat, which is important to the operation of space stations that have sprouted up across the galaxy.
This is the setting for the feature length sci-fi comedy “Space Trucker Bruce.”
Made in Juneau over six years, the movie premieres Friday at the Gold Town Nickelodeon.
Karl Sears plays the lovably schlubby title character, who works the hog fat supply lines between Earth and Titan Station, orbiting Saturn’s largest moon. Bruce is mostly happy with his job, but gets lonely between hog fat deliveries. He uses Zen meditation to keep himself from going crazy on his ship, the Nessus.
On his way to Titan, Bruce picks up Max, whose shuttle breaks down in the middle of outer space. Bruce helps Max learn to relax. The story takes a sudden turn when Bruce and Max receive a strange transmission, leading to a collision course with a large unidentified object.
The movie also features a talking container of sour cream that craves murder and cocoa beans. There’s a mysterious woman named Jane Doe, found by Bruce floating through space, and Bruce’s love interest, a waitress named Katie who works at the Titan Café.
Anton Doiron plays Max. He also wrote and directed “Space Trucker Bruce.”
“I like science fiction that has a little bit of comedy in it. And in this case, with my budget being what it was and with the set quality and everything, it had to be a comedy,” says Doiron, 41, who grew up in Ketchikan and now works as a computer programmer for the State of Alaska.
“Space Trucker Bruce” started as a short film for the Juneau Underground Motion Picture Society. But Doiron says he wanted to make something longer than the 10-minute JUMP festival films.
“I wrote the original script for it in 2007, and I continuously revised it,” he says. “And when we would go to film a scene, I would look at the dialog and I would make sure that it made sense when spoken aloud. And we’d make little changes to it, and then that’s what we would end up filming.”
Doiron built all the sets for the film at his Mendenhall Valley home. He made Bruce’s sleeping quarters in his son’s bedroom.
“There are eight sets in the movie, the largest one being the 35-foot hallway, which I built in my backyard,” he says.
He gave himself a budget of $30 a week and figures he spent about $10,000 on the project. That includes a high definition video camera, a computer for editing, and promotional materials. He created the 3D special effects using a free software program called Blender.
The actors were friends and co-workers, who worked for free. Amelia Jenkins, who plays Jane Doe, did not have any previous acting experience, but says her day job as a children’s librarian provides plenty of opportunity to ham it up.
“Not an actress, but definitely comfortable acting big and silly,” Jenkins says.
She hasn’t seen the final product, but Jenkins thinks it’s impressive that Doiron completed the film. She looks forward to seeing how he edited scenes shot over almost four years.
“Hair was changing lengths, beards come and go, waistbands expand and shrink,” she says.
Doiron screened a cut of “Space Trucker Bruce” for a group of about 30 people in December, and used their feedback to make some changes. He says making his first feature film was a learning experience.
“It took me six years, but at first I was a little bit flaky and wasn’t working continuously on it,” he says. “At the end I was working on the film every day.”
He’s already started working on his next movie, tentatively called “A Girl, a Yeti, and a Spaceship,” which he hopes to complete in about three years.
“Space Trucker Bruce” premieres Friday at 7 p.m. at the Gold Town Nickelodeon, with an encore showing at 9 p.m. and matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. After this weekend, Doiron hopes to make the movie available on-demand at www.spacetruckerbruce.com.
“Space Trucker Bruce” theme song “Supply Lines and Deadlines” by Mike Maas