Special New Year's Eve Screening: BILL THE GALACTIC HERO

Special New Year's Eve Screening: BILL THE GALACTIC HERO


Come join us at the West Coast premiere of Alex Cox's latest film, BILL THE GALACTIC HERO. 

This feature-length science fiction comedy is set in the far reaches of our galaxy, as humans wage war against a reptilian alien species, known as Chingers. It is extremely low budget, and relatively high concept.

Mr. Cox (REPO MAN, SID AND NANCY) will be joining us for a pre-screening introduction and a post-screening Q&A.

Purchase tickets in advance HERE.

Proceeds benefit Human Solutions, Inc.

For over 25 years, Human Solutions has worked to ensure that homeless and low-income families have the tools and resources they need to build pathways out of poverty. Individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency with services provided by Human Solutions, such as affordable housing, family support services, job readiness training and economic development opportunities.

Human Solutions' vision is to foster a prosperous and healthy community that is free of homelessness and of the devastating effects of poverty.

Alex Cox

Alex Cox first optioned the book BILL, THE GALACTIC HERO in 1983, the same week he delivered his first feature, REPO MAN, to Universal Studios. He’d read Harry Harrison’s science fiction novel as a teenager, and been seriously impressed by its non-stop narrative and anti-war message. Clearly BILL was a riposte to Robert Heinlein’s STARSHIP TROOPERS, a turgid scifi tale madly in love with all things military. Heinlein hated the book: previously on good terms with Harrison, he never spoke to him again after reading BILL. Even more important, Cox felt, was that BILL was extremely funny: perhaps that's what made Heinlein so mad. Cox took the novel to Hollywood-as yet there was no script-where it was promptly rejected as being “too expensive and too anti-war.” “This was the second screenplay I’d written which was rejected by a major studio for being too anti-war,” Cox recalls. “In my innocence, I didn’t think it was possible to be overly anti-war. I had much to learn.”

Without backing, without a screenplay, Harry Harrison’s Candide-esque story of a plowboy turned space trooper in a galaxy-wide war against six-armed, giant reptiles looked like it would never reach the silver screen. Harrison continued his prolific writing career, researching and producing complex science fiction novels and short stories, including half a dozen sequels to BILL, and moving constantly, between Ireland, Norway, England, Florida, Mexico, and elsewhere. Cox made other films, none of them science fiction, and moved constantly, between the US, England, Spain, Nicaragua, Mexico and elsewhere. As the years passed, they became firm friends.

Fast-forward almost thirty years. Cox was teaching film production at the University of Colorado (Boulder) and using scenes from Harrison’s novel as raw material in his classes. On a whim, he called the author of BILL and asked if he would grant “an academic license” for a feature version of the book. “What’s an academic license?” Harrison asked. “It means it gets made by students, and nobody’s paid,” Cox replied, improvising wildly. “And it’s non-exclusive, so if Disney wants to make their own version, and pay you lots of money, they still can.” Harry liked the idea. More surprisingly, his agent in New York, Nat Sobel, liked it too. A second option deal was made, and Alex started work on the script. Harry read two-thirds of it, gave notes, and went to the Skies Avaunt. A crowdfunding campaign, guided by Cox’s students, who understand these things, raised $114,000. This was one thousandth of the budget of GRAVITY; one two hundred and fiftieth the budget of ENDER’S GAME.

BILL THE GALACTIC HERO went into production in fall 2013. Filmed on weekends (because students have classes in the week, and most of them have day jobs, too) over an eight month period, BILL’s shoot wrapped in Cathedral Gorge, Nevada, in April 2014. The cast and crew are almost entirely Boulder undergraduates or recent graduates of the Film Program or Department of Theatre and Dance. Boulder animation teacher Chris Pearce simultaneously produced the opening and closing animation scenes, with an entirely-student crew.

Has Cox enjoyed making a crowdsourced film? “It isn’t over yet, so I don’t know. But it’s very relaxing not having to worry about marketing and making money. Usually when a film is finished, the filmmaker continues to work for the financier, doing promotion and attending festivals, only to be condemned when the picture doesn’t make enough dosh. With crowdfunding, the relationship is clear: the backers understand the project and the film itself reciprocates: as a download, or a DVD, or a Blu-Ray plus authentic model of the battle cruiser Fairy Queen!”

Will he make another film this way? “Probably. But next time we’ll ask for more money so that we can pay the cast and crew and don’t have to shoot on weekends!”

Is he proud of it? "If BILL is a good picture, it's because CU Film and Theatre produce professionally-capable actors and crew people. None of them had made a feature film before. Everyone stepped up. The demands BILL made were immense: the camera department was shooting multiple formats, plus infra-red, all in black and white. The art department had fifty sets to deal with. The animation sequences were unbelieveably time-consuming. There is no "music" other than propaganda songs, so the sound design is crucial. And the visual effects…" (Cox looks rapt, falls silent).

Special Admission

$8 in advance; $10 at the door. Proceeds benefit Human Solutions, Inc.

Advance tickets sales HERE.