Australian filmmaker Shane Abbess drew upon the Depression Era for his new feature, The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One.

The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One is not Shane Abbess’s first rodeo. His biggest films – Infini and Gabriel – were both heavily based in science fiction. Curiously though, sci-fi as a genre isn’t really of huge personal interest to the director.

“I really love character – I actually love character more than story,” he tells STACK. “For me, it was always like, you get to a point as part of a story and you go ‘oh, wouldn’t this be interesting, to push this thing here or see it done in this realm, or in purgatory, or we’ll go to a space station and do a claustrophobic film out there.’”

Abbess laughs that his future may herald a very different scenario. “[Sci-fi] was just more a kind of curiosity for me – a deep-seaded need to go back to it. I love all genres. I’ll probably end up doing teenage romantic comedy films in my twilight years, because that’s where I have the most fun.”

The story follows Sy Lombrok (Kellan Lutz) and Kane Sommerville (Daniel McPherson) – two outcasts that have come together to rescue Kane’s daughter. In the future, alien planets are being terraformed to make them habitable for humanity, and the company responsible – Exor – is also creating dangerous experiments as a side venture.

“I actually love character more than story”

In creating the world of The Osiris Child, Abbess drew heavily on the Depression Era. “There was this sort of naivety towards the era, but with comic books there was this outlet for people to distract themselves. For me, we’re seeing that kind of naivety again, this new wave of cynicism – that’s where I think the world’s at again now. It seems like such an angry, dark time for so many people now. I felt like it would be good to make a film that wore its naivety on its sleeve, but then when I looked at the structure of the film, I thought that I would want to go against the formula. There’s definitely a formula at play with those kinds of things.“

Shooting took place in Australia, with the Coober Pedy location proving to be somewhat dangerous territory. “They dig these huge holes in the ground to check for opals. Years ago when it was just the Wild West out there, they would dig and then they’d just put a wooden plank over the top, cover it with dirt, and that was safe for the time. But over the years, those boards rot, and now there’s just all these holes out there,” he explains.

Abbess acknowledges that people have met their demise in the red desert. “They just walk along the ground and drop 90 feet to their death. Coober Pedy has this thing where you pretty much have to stay on the roads, ‘cause anything off road is pretty dangerous. Whenever we’d shoot somewhere, we’d have to go out there in advance to do safety checks to make sure when people are running or whatever, they don’t just fall down a hole. That place is unlike anywhere else in the world – it really is a Martian landscape. It’s a sci-fi movie in itself.”

Which brings us to the film’s subtitle: ‘Science Fiction Volume One’ – an obvious giveaway that further adventures set in the universe of The Osiris Child are in development.

“I’m actually working with Kellan right now on Part Two,” confirms Abbess. “We wrote stories for the next five instalments in the series, just for our own thing so we know what happens next. This film is essentially the origin story of a young female mercenary who’s obviously on a hunt. The people that joined her on that hunt are established in this film, but how did she end up here, why does she do the things she does? It’s important to know why.

“With TV being so big these days, people expect these longer stories with a bigger arc, so we have to take that into account. I like the idea of serialised cinema, but we’ll see. We’ll definitely go to a number two and see where the audience wants to go from there.”

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“I used to read my comic books out of order; I would get Issue #9, or Issue #20 first, and then go back to Issue #1, and the first issue would make such a big difference as far as characters and plot went – it kind of set my soul on fire in a way, ‘cause I had this preconceived idea in my head that turned out to be completely wrong. I thought it would be interesting to do that in a film, to take it and just jumble it as if it were a comic. Originally, the script was 15 chapters long, completely out of order. We showed it to test audiences and they were super confused, and we just thought ‘okay, we’ve gone too far.’ We put it down to seven chapters… it’s much more palatable, and just a different way to manage stories.”