- 5000 Space Aliens is a non-narrative film consisting of 5000 one-second animations created by director Scott Bateman.
- The film features carefully manipulated pieces of public-domain footage turned into animations, accompanied by an original score composed by Bateman.
- It offers a unique viewing experience, challenging traditional storytelling by focusing on visuals rather than a plot, allowing viewers to interpret the film in their own way.
Developed from the 2016 short 600 Space Aliens, Scott Bateman’s 5000 Space Aliens is currently available for digital download. The non-narrative film introduces 5000 aliens throughout its 83-minute run and is a collection of carefully manipulated pieces of public-domain footage. The animations are accompanied by an original score created by Bateman specifically for the feature. Previously screened at several events, 5000 Space Aliens received the “Best Picture” award at the Medusa Underground Film Festival.
Scott Bateman serves as both the director and animator of the film. He has previously worked on projects such as The Bateman Lectures on Depression and You, Your Brain, & You. Meanwhile, Lucas A. Ferrara acts as a producer for 5000 Space Aliens and is known for titles such as Makeup, Blind Innocence, and Hawks. Ferrara also has several upcoming projects yet to be released.
Screen Rant interviewed Scott Bateman and Lucas A. Ferrara about the inspiration behind their non-narrative film and what they feel 5000 Space Aliens can offer audiences who are used to traditional storytelling.
Scott Bateman & Lucas A. Ferrara Talk 5000 Space Aliens
Screen Rant: What first inspired you to put together a film comprised of one-second animations?
Scott Bateman: It was a perfect storm of circumstances. I wanted to make another feature film, but I had no money, so I needed an idea for a film that I could make for no money, by myself, at home. My previous two films had been heavy on narration, so I wanted to make a film with no dialogue or narration. I love working with found footage and I wanted to do a project where I turned found footage into animation. Found footage from the internet is very low-fi, so you already have to do a lot of work to make it look good for hi-def, so why not just turn it into fun animation? And I’d been playing with editing at a strict one-second per shot rhythm, which I found hypnotic. I sort of mashed up all these ideas into 5000 Space Aliens!
Lucas, what drew you to Scott’s film, in particular?
Lucas A. Ferrara: Well, as you may recall, back in 2020, the world was in a state of chaos due to the pandemic. It was a scary time and, as I sat in my home during the lockdown watching the world implode, I felt a need to do something. Eventually, I went to crowdfunding platforms and found myself attracted to pitches by creatives who needed help getting their projects off the ground. That’s how I found my first two feature films, Help, written and directed by Blake Ridder, and Makeup, written by Hugo Andre, both from the UK. Those projects kept scores of people working during a very challenging economic environment.
I’m pleased that those projects eventually found international distribution deals and are currently available via all the major streaming services, like Apple and Amazon, and are being enjoyed by people across the globe.
In August of that same year, 2020, I came across Scott’s pitch for 5000 Space Aliens and was immediately attracted by the upbeat, danceable music and compelling images. The fact it was a non-narrative, dialogue-free film made it even more enticing. This movie doesn’t dictate how the viewer is supposed to think or react. Rather, it allows us to take away whatever message, or messages, we may like.
And because there’s so much stimuli coming across the screen, it’s almost impossible to fully appreciate this movie after just a single viewing. It’s meant to be watched multiple times. And every time you do, you’ll experience something different; sounds or images you might have previously missed. Interestingly, we’re finding no two people are experiencing the film in the same way. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me. Given that 5000 Space Aliens offers viewers an unprecedented sensory experience, its quirkiness and uniqueness are what drew me to this project in the first instance.
What made you realize that 600 Space Aliens had the potential to go from a short to a full-length film?
Scott Bateman: I made the short film version, 600 Space Aliens, first just to see if all these ideas were going to play well together. Watching it with audiences at film festivals, I could tell I was on to something! The music and some of the footage from the short ended up making it into the feature version.
Why did you choose to go with the space alien theme?
Scott Bateman: I needed a reason for these 5000 one-second shots to all appear in the same movie. I came up with this intro where the Space Alien Commission is telling the viewer to be on the lookout for these space aliens living among us, to memorize the film, and then dispose of the film by eating it! It felt like a fun, cheesy throwback to the old sci-fi films of the 1950s that I love so much.
Lucas A. Ferrara: That was all Scott. He came up with the idea and single-handedly made it happen. He animated, edited, and scored all 86 minutes, all by himself. Who else in the world can make that claim about a feature film? I just knew, after seeing the teaser that he posted on his crowdfunding page, that Scott was onto something big here, and that I had to hitch a ride along with him, and I’m glad I did. Because the piece is so unique, I see it being used in an array of different settings. For example, when the film was competing in festivals around the globe, including the Medusa Underground Film Festival where it won “Best Picture,” some of the event sponsors projected the film onto the sides of buildings.
I can also see the piece being played at museums, art galleries, clubs, bars, and even parties or other gatherings hosted at people’s homes. It’s a great “mood setter,” and its uses are virtually limitless. Do you know that “holiday log,” or “Yule log,” that often plays around the holiday season? I’m talking about that looped clip of a log burning in a fireplace that you often see screening on people’s television sets. I foresee 5000 Space Aliens playing in the background whenever or wherever people are gathered all year long!
Did you want to connect the images in any way, or did you want them each to have their own unique sense?
Scott Bateman: I created each one-second image individually over the course of two and a half or three years, with really no thought of how they’d go together. They all just went into a folder on my desktop. But when it came time to edit, it was fun to string together several shots where the characters are all reacting to each other, or the same sort of gesture happens, etc. I love editing, and that’s really where a movie becomes a movie for me!
What do you feel a film like 5000 Space Aliens can offer audiences who might be used to more traditional and narrative storytelling?
Scott Bateman: I started making films because, as a film viewer, I was getting bored with Hollywood films always telling stories in the same way. And often, I want to watch a movie that is just a visual treat with no dialogue. 99% of movies are storytelling, and I think there’s room for filmmakers to explore other things that film can do and still be very entertaining. So that was another aim of this movie—to make a film that is fun to watch by being more like a rollercoaster ride instead of a story. And people seem to be digging it!
Lucas A. Ferrara: I thought that many people would like the fact that this was an adult-geared animation piece. I mean, if you’re expecting to see singing tigers, talking fish, dancing turtles, and all that sort of cartoon nonsense, then this movie isn’t for you. This unique work seeks to challenge audiences intellectually and emotionally, and it’s working. To date, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. It’s been called, “one of a kind,” “animated oddity,” “otherworldly,” “mesmerizing,” “cutting edge,” “ground-breaking,” and “artistically daring.” And those are just a few of the many accolades. The project is clearly resonating with audiences, so I couldn’t be prouder.
How long did each animation typically take to create?
Scott Bateman: Some took longer than others, and of course, there’s also the long process of finding enough found stuff on the Internet to turn into a movie. Maybe, on average, 30–40 minutes per second? It varied wildly.
Scott, you also composed the score. What was the main focus when creating the music to accompany these images?
Scott Bateman: Well first, I scored the film myself because I was trying to make the film without as much money as possible, and it turns out the only composer I can afford to hire is me! But I knew what I wanted. I wanted a score that moved at the same rhythm as the visuals, so it’s basically 120 beats per minutes throughout. I admire Philip Glass’ score to Koyaanisqatsi, but I also wanted to throw in other influences like the old ‘70s Krautrock band, Neu!, Stereolab, some ‘90s electronica, and some ‘80s new wave synth-pop. I love me some Moog synthesizer! It was good because if I felt stuck on the imagery, I could always go work on the music for a while.
Out of all the animations, which was your favorite?
Scott Bateman: It’s in the first few minutes of the film—a guy with glasses thinking about fish. It’s such a ridiculous image and I love the colors. I sometimes use it as a social media avatar!
Lucas A. Ferrara: I certainly have mine! Are you ready for it? It’s somewhat of a spoiler, so get ready. One might argue that the movie only has 4999 aliens. If you watch carefully, you may just catch me in the film. Yes, that’s right. I have a one-second cameo in the piece. Now if you’re going to ask me if I’m an alien, I’ll have to take the Fifth. I’ve been sworn to secrecy and am not allowed to answer that question without the permission of the “Supreme Leader.” And that ain’t Scott, by the way.
What can you each share about your upcoming projects?
Scott Bateman: To be determined! I would love to do a 5000 Space Aliens sequel if there’s demand, but I also want to get back to live-action again. I’m at that mashing-ideas-together phase again.
Lucas A. Ferrara: Up next, I’ll be venturing from animation to horror. Right now, I have two horror features in post-production: Manor of Darkness, written and directed by Blake Ridder, and Children of the Pines, written and directed by 20-year-old, Joshua Morgan of Tampa, Florida. Set in an English countryside estate, Manor of Darkness is about a jewelry heist that goes terribly wrong because the home is haunted by an evil spirit. While in Children of the Pines, a couple desperately seeks to mend their frayed marital relationship and dysfunctional family dynamic by joining a “cult,” which has not-so-angelic underpinnings or motivations. Let’s just say, both films are sure to knock your socks off. I can’t wait to share them with the world.
About 5000 Space Aliens
Meet 5000 space aliens in 5000 seconds in this fun and totally bonkers animated film that uses computer-manipulated found footage and collage, all created by director Scott Bateman. 5000 Space Aliens is an entertaining non-narrative film unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s a one-man tour de force: Scott Bateman not only created the animated footage, he also composed the 84-minute score!
Scott Bateman spent 2-1/2 years manipulating weird public domain footage in Photoshop, Fireworks, and Premiere Pro to create the 5000 one-second portraits that make up 5000 Space Aliens. Packed with memorable visual images, let all 5000 Space Aliens wash over you.
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5000 Space Aliens is currently available for digital download worldwide.