Afterglow (2009) is a science fiction short film written and directed by Andres Anglade. It is a story told by a militia officer reporting to his superiors about an incident during his alien patrol. In this world, humanity has repulsed an alien invasion, but it’s still possible part of the enemy remains on Earth. The officer’s job is to find them.
Afterglow has been shown at several film festivals and San Diego Comic-Con, and won the 2009 Director’s Choice for Short Film Category at the Rincón International Film Festival in Puerto Rico. This is director Anglade’s first professional film.
Andres Anglade is of Puerto Rican and German heritage, and currently resides in California. I had the opportunity of interviewing Anglade which was fun because he’s very much “one of us.” He loves science fiction and telling stories through a visual medium. We talked about the short, where he got his inspiration and his work on Battlestar Galactica and NBC’s Community.
Where did you get the idea for Afterglow?
The basic idea came from one simple question “What would happen if an alien invasion happened right now?” What would you do? How would you act? That’s essentially the genesis of the story behind the film. But what I really wanted to explore was how people dealt with an alien invasion after the invasion. They invaded. We won. What comes next?
So Afterglow is from a “common person” point of view instead of the major players?
Yes, exactly. I’ve always been a fan of seeing how “regular” people react to large scale events. I’m also a fan of not showing the big event, but letting people’s imaginations run wild and let them envision what may have happened.
What type of science fiction inspires you?
I’m inspired by a lot of [genre films where] there are moments that you forget they’re science fiction. One of my all time favorite sci-fi films is the original The Day The Earth Stood Still. And with that film, sure you have the classic flying saucer landing on Earth, but the exploration of people’s emotions and reactions to it is so well done. That film holds up today and I always tell people to watch it. A more recent film that explores a new world [that] way was Children Of Men. It was able to explore individual lives in and around much larger issues.
Don’t get me wrong, though, the little kid in me still loves to see the action spectacle and will go see films where stuff blows up, but the ones that inspire me also touch upon the relationships we have. The Abyss is my favorite sci-fi film, and again it has moments where you forget you’re watching a sci-fi film. But the action is spectacular and [director James] Cameron makes us really care about the characters.
In Afterglow, people are highly suspicious of each other after they defeat the aliens. Is Afterglow an allegory of how we treat others in a post 9/11 world?
We do now live in a world of suspicion and that was definitely a theme I wanted to explore. But again, the most important things for me were the characters. I wasn’t trying to touch upon the issue of torture; it was more of trying to explore the most horrific way someone could just snap after a tragic event.
How did you finance Afterglow?
For financing, I saved up money, and Executive Producer Melissa Scotti helped raise around $3000, which was awesome. And all of that combined was still not enough, so the rest went on credit cards. The final budget for the film ended up being around $12,000. But I also called in a lot of favors. That’s what’s great about being around a film-loving/making community of friends. We all like to help each other out.
Does Afterglow have a future (part two)?
I wrote a few scripts for a webseries and pitched it around, but nothing ever happened. I’m glad it didn’t work out, because looking back at them, the scripts need work. I’ve tried several times to turn it into a feature, which I still want to do, but I have to find the right story to tell. There are so many to tell in that world and I want the right one. I don’t want to settle.
How was winning the Rincón award in Puerto Rico?
It was such a great festival. Doug Lantz [Festival & Programming Director] and everyone involved were so accommodating and generous. Winning the award was surprising and unexpected. Unfortunately I left the day of the awards ceremony, so they gave me an impromptu ceremony out at dinner the night before. It was great!
Tell us about the work you did for the Battlestar Galactica shorts and NBC’s Community. Were you a fan of these shows before you worked on them?
I worked at a company that did all the special features for the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of BSG. Those two special features [Cylons - The Twelve and The Journey] were something that was kind of thrown at me by the producer with an impossible schedule. We managed to turn those in and because of the hard work I put in I was given producer credit on it. It was rough, but I got to know the company editor on it really well, Brian Kelley, and he ended up doing the color correction for Afterglow.
I did watch BSG. It was amazing. I do have to admit, though, a friend tried to get me to watch it way back and I couldn’t get through the mini-series. A few years later I gave it another shot and once I saw [season one, episode one] ‘33’… once you see that, you’re in. I actually got some of my non sci-fi friends into that show.
I’m currently the post coordinator for the show Community. I work with the post department and I love it. I was a fan of the show before I got the job and everyone I work with is really cool. I couldn’t ask for a better crew.
What’s next for you?
Right now I’m in pre-production for my next short that I plan on shooting in Puerto Rico next summer. The script is done, we’re raising money, location scouting, prepping VFX [visual effects] and all the fun stuff.