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Interview with filmmaker Shahin Sean Solimon on aliens, movies and giving back

Los Angeles-based filmmaker Shahin Sean Solimon cited a number of influences regarding his film 'Awakening: Alpha' (formerly titled 'Alpha: the Awakening'), which is currently in post production.

Among them are anthology television shows like 'The Twilight Zone' and 'The Outer Limits' which he praised for their reliance on tight, character-driven plotting rather than relying exclusively on special effects as a crutch.

According to a synopsis of the film provided by spokespersons for the filmmaker, the plot focuses on Aplollo -- the last man on Earth. He wakes up to a drastically changed world with aliens, flying saucers, giant pods, zombies, robots and a mysterious dark force emanating from the sky.

"The project has many hidden metaphors and 'easter eggs,' along with practical effects, CGI/VFX, action and aliens called 'octaliens' in this mind-bending movie," states the synopsis. "It it is also being filmed with state-of-the-art technology and will be a full 4K HD movie."

Actress/model Ginger Christie will co-star.

Solimon's company Giant Flick LLC is making he film. His daughter Madelyn assisted with the production.

Solimon said the philosophical content of a script should resonate with audiences as much as the thrills.

"I'm a big believe that a good script should have a message," he said, adding that a filmmaker should aspire towards adding to posterity on some level. "Audiences should think about a film after they watch it."

He also noted the role that quantum physics plays in the film, noting that he was impressed with some of the ideas in the 'Matrix' film series.

"You see it, so it is there," he said, adding that the relative nature of reality plays a part in the story. he added that the next film he plans to make will address similar themes.

This and his previous films (Djinn, Sinbad: the Fifth Voyage) include some stop-motion effects and he credits special effects Ray Harryhausen as a major inspiration.

His films reflect the diversity of his cultural influences -- he is the son of Iranian singer Fataneh and moved to Florida to live with his adopted parents at a young age. His adopted father was a professor at the University of Florida who shared his knowledge of film with him.

Solimon later moved to California and his aesthetic continued to absorb more influences.

Despite the upcoming film's plot twists, he said, M. Might Snyamalan was not a direct influence on him. He added that he was an admirer of Shyamalan's work, however.

He expressed criticism with how the mainstream film industry sometimes handles genre films like science fiction, fantasy or horror. Strong scripts and exciting ideas sell these films, he argued, not necessarily expensive special effects or household-name stars.

"There is too much of of a emphasis on the cast," he said regarding many Hollywood offerings. "They keep the focus on the star. The film itself and the script should be the star."

One of his professional goals is to give back, he said -- a portion of the profits earned from the film will go towards St. Jude's Hospital. He said that his intention was to inspire other independent filmmakers to pursue altruism in a similar manner and generate a movement around this within the industry. He added that he also hoped to work with other aspiring filmmakers as he became more established.

"It is important to give back," he said.

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