Red Faction: Origins spawned by video game on Syfy

Red Faction: Origins spawned by video game on Syfy

Film Reunites Battlestar Galactica & Stargate Universe Stars

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Just because you’ve never played any of the “Red Faction” video games doesn’t mean you won’t be sucked into the new movie spawned by them. Red Faction: Origins is an epic action adventure that is based on the successful “Red Faction” video game franchise from THQ.

It is exciting for several reasons, among them is that the cast reunites some of the stellar talent that appeared in Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Universe. It stars Brian J. Smith (1st Lt. Matthew Scott on Stargate Universe), and Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica), who were on hand for an NBC-Universal press day to promote the show, along with director Michael Nankin and the head of creative development for THQ, Danny Bilson.

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The movie also stars Danielle Nicolet, Gareth David-Lloyd, Tamzin Merchant, Devon Graye, Gordon Kennedy, Tamer Hassan, and Robert Patrick. And Red Faction: Origins was written and produced by Andrew Kreisberg from the wonderful Warehouse 13 series.

But perhaps the big lure for gamers is that the story bridges the gap between the original “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” and the new game “Red Faction: Armageddon,” just released in time for Red Faction: Origins premiere June 4th on the Syfy Channel.

Smith plays Jake Mason, son of the rebel hero Alec Mason, who follows in his father’s footsteps on the planet Mars. Smith says the out-of-this-world setting is in his comfort zone. “I spent most of Stargate on a rogue, runaway, crazy, ancient spaceship. So it was actually kind of nice to be on a planet for an extended period of time as a character,” he says.

There is an effort to have a realistic base to the Origins action according to Smith. “The thing about they way that we approach Mars is not to fall into any of the Mars cliché trap preconceptions. You’ll see some snow. There’s this huge industrial complex, like a Soviet bloc kind of city. It’s an interesting kind of untraditional approach to telling a story set on Mars and just trying to keep it grounded and real. It’s really not too out there.”

So how do you recreate Mars for the production? Director Nankin reveals, “We shot it in Bulgaria in the winter, which is as close as you can get to Mars. It was very cold on the sound stages. We added a line in the film that explains ‘the terraformers made the air breathable, but it didn’t move Mars any closer to the sun.” That accounts for all the cold fog coming out of the actors’ mouths.

The actors note that they had to cope with the cold and were constantly chewing on ice cubes before doing their scenes, just to keep their breath from being too visible against the green screen filming.

Although years ago the Mars Rover sent back amazing pictures of a rocky uninhabited Red Planet, that was not the type of location the production was looking to recreate. Nankin explains, “Bulgaria gave us the Mars of the story, which has been developed as a mining colony for 200 years. And the evil overlords have been kicked out 20 years before, which is exactly what happened in Bulgaria. We found a Soviet-era steel mill that had been rusting for 20 years. I think it was 25 miles long, and that became our Eos location.”

They also found a series of caves, and used those locations to add to the film’s other-worldly feel. Of course, CGI was used for the spaceships and other futuristic looks.

The movie acts as a pilot for a future Syfy series, anticipating strong ratings for its June 4 premiere, according to executive producer Andrew Kreisberg. It is an unusual production that is a first of its kind trans-media deal, debuting less than a week after the “Red Faction Armageddon” video game is released. The movie is produced by Universal Cable Productions and UFO Films, based on the video game franchise from THQ.


Frank Barron is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, having served twice in that capacity. In between, he was West Coast news director for Billboard Publications, supervising their five magazines. Barron also created the western TV series “The Man From Blackhawk” for the ABC network. For more than three decades he and writer-wife Margie Barron have covered Hollywood for Production Update magazine, and they currently contribute to numerous publications. Frank started in showbiz as publicity director for the KHJ radio and television station. Before moving to California, he was a sports editor in New Jersey.

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