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Area 51 Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Area 51

This is an interview from February 23, 2011 with Director Jason Connery and Actress Rachel Miner from the Syfy original movie Area 51, which premieres on February 26, 2011. In the movie, the Air Force decides to allow a few reporters into the most secretive base on the planet, Area 51, but the visit turns into violent mayhem when one of the captive aliens leads an escape.

I read this was filmed in Louisiana, but Area 51 is in Nevada. That seems like two very, very different places. It'd be hard to find as different places. How did that play into the filming? Was that difficultmaking a swamp into a desert.

Jason Connery:
The film was set very much inside the facility. And we did find a building that was in fact a disused mattress factory. And it had a sort of courtyard at the back which looked, once one addressed it with military vehicles and various signage and Air Force men running around it felt very much like an Air Force base. And then all of the interiors were corridors and underground.

And then the exteriors I went to Barstow for a day I shot establishing shorts and various car driving shots and things. I think it's quite common in film world to set things in one place and shoot them in another and then establish them with shots from a different area. So it wasn't too difficult and I don't think one questions that it's in the desert, we had as I say, quite a lot of the visual stuff was interior. So once you've established that you're in the desert I don't think that it plays that it's not.

Rachel Miner:
I agree. And also military bases are so isolated that I think we were working with that so it was more about the base than it was about the location of the base.

Rachel, you have had an amazing career from Broadway to soap operas and everything in between. How did this movie fit in and what was it like filming for you?

Rachel Miner:
It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed this role. It was a great role. A really strong female character and something different than anything I've done before. We had a blast shooting and quite literally. We got to blow up a lot of things. To me it was just another thing to try. And I liked getting to inhabit this character.

Jason, how has it changed for you? I mean you're a very successful actor on the screen and now you're behind the camera doing it. How has the transition been for you and kind of what led to that for your career?

Jason Connery:
Thank you. I appreciate that. I mean in some ways I could say it's the natural progression. It's sort of part of storytelling and that's what I love to do, without sounding too pretentious. As an actor you very much inhabit as Rachel was saying, one character. And you're telling the story through those characters' eyes which is great. And I have really enjoyed and will continue hopefully, to enjoy doing that.

But when you direct and you take a story hopefully by the sort of scruff of the neck and you make it your own, you tell the story from the storyteller's perspective. It opens up so many different avenues to explore. And I just really, really enjoy the whole process. You start considerably earlier where you're working on the script to get it hopefully in shape. And then you go through all of the casting and all of the elements to get the film and it's very collaborative which I also enjoy and with all of the different cogs hopefully building this engine that runs smoothly - sometimes does, sometimes doesn't.

And then, you go through the filming which is very much again, getting all of the actors together and working the story through and all of the different elements such as lighting, sound and such. And then you've got the whole post time which the editing process is excruciating because you have to go through this thing where the story feels very long and slow and it's sort of flabby and not, you know, punctuated. And then slowly as you build and build and build on that. Anyway, it's a rather longwinded way of telling you that I just enjoy the entire storytelling process. And being a director is a wonderful way to do that.

What drew each of you to this project?

Rachel Miner:
For me it was fun. I actually love the Sci-Fi genre and haven't gotten to do anything in that area. And also I really fell in love with this really strong female role that I haven't gotten to play either. So it was an instant draw.

Jason Connery:
For me personally it was I really enjoyed the fact that it had a number of elements in the script when I first read it. There's humor and what I love in these stories is when you can combine all of the different story lines. In this film, there's Sergeant Hannah that Rachel plays and you hear her story. And Jason London with Shoes and the Colonel and Claire and all of these characters, they really had stories going on.

And very often in these movies you read the scripts and you don't really care about the character because so much of it is based in action and there's action but there's also quite a lot of character elements there. So when I read it I just thought wow, this is a story that has all of these different elements. And that's always interesting and exciting to do.

Area 51 has been for many years such a popular topic both in print and on the internet. Did the popularity and mythology that's surrounds it add any pressure to you to make the film to appease the fans or was that not an issue?

Jason Connery:
Well for me personally I felt like everybody has their own story about Area 51. People are interested in it. And then as you say, it's mythology because the facts aren't known. So I felt like well, this is one story. And there are many. And hopefully people will enjoy it. That was my main concern.

Rachel Miner:
Yes. I think anyone that's fascinated by this area is going to be fascinated by any direction you go with it. And, we're certainly not doing a documentary so we don't have to worry about being held accountable to that. So we can just enjoy.

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