A Feature in Fresno

Jan 12, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Movies, Rebecca Potts

by Rebecca Potts

movieLocal filming has been consistently growing in the Central Valley for the past decade, and Fresno is no exception. With many independent projects gaining momentum, there is one in particular that stands out – John Neptune and the Sky Palace King, a retro sci-fi filmed in black and white and the story of a young man who must learn to think for himself whilst fighting a war for a leader he believes in, but who soon realizes that there are many shades of gray in what he thought was a black and white universe.

When Ian Pugh came up with the idea for John Neptune ten years ago, it started as a fun weekend project to pass the time and beat boredom. It didn’t take long for the idea to develop into a complex story with multi-faceted characters and insightful lessons to be learned. “I started writing the story, adding different plot points, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger.” His weekend project suddenly turned into a passion project, one he knew deserved the time and effort he was about to devote to creating it. “I felt like I needed to tell the story more than I wanted to.” movie set

And so began a long venture of writing scripts, making costumes, casting characters, building sets, and editing footage. Bringing the John Neptune universe to life is a multi-step process that starts with a green screen. “I shoot the film in my living room where the large green screen is set up,” Pugh says. Actors are typically shot separately, which means they’re often acting to a light stand in place of a character or a collection of tiny action figures to mimic an audience. Props are made from dismantled dollar store finds, and the costumes are pieced together almost entirely from scratch. Once the actors are shot, Pugh builds miniature models of the set to paste onto the green screen background. Once the scene is fully produced, actors come back to record the audio.

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Ian Pugh

To the casual observer, this may seem like a lot of work, but Pugh explains why he wouldn’t do it any other way. “It allows me to write any scene I want without being limited by real locations,” says Pugh. “It’s time consuming, but the end result is very rewarding.” If all of that isn’t enough work, Pugh even stars in the film as the lead role. “I put a lot of myself [into Neptune],” explains Pugh. “He is an idealized version of who I want to be – he has his flaws, but he is able to overcome obstacles that I can’t even imagine myself in. I hope others can relate to the character in the same way.” movie

If you’re thinking that all of that sounds like too much for one person to handle, you’d be right. Pugh does have some help bringing the John Neptune universe to life. The Associate Producer and Assistant Director of the film is Lindsey Kister, who handles, well, everything that Pugh doesn’t! “Initially, Ian asked me to make costumes for some of the background characters.” Kister says. Her role grew when she started creating the costumes for lead characters, and eventually ended up helping Pugh revitalize the script. Pugh initially wrote the story as a web series, but with Kister’s nudge, decided to pursue his dream of making it into a feature film. After making that decision, “we read the script together and tore it apart to make it work better as a movie.” Kister explains. “I think that was the most enjoyable part because we really got to know the characters a lot better.” Kister describes herself as the half of the pair that keeps them on track. “I’ll point out inconsistencies, and then we have to come up with a way to fix them. We have fun!” movie set

After a year of filming, we’ll finally have a chance to see a little bit of the Neptune universe; a teaser trailer will be released in early 2019 to give the public a taste of what’s to come. Look for the film this summer and get ready for an interstellar adventure! Follow the John Neptune Facebook page to keep up with movie.

Pugh graduated from the Academy of Art in San Francisco with a degree in Cinematography and Editing. The Galactic Adventures of John Neptune: The Sky Palace King is Pugh’s first feature length project and is slated for release this Summer. It stars Ian Pugh as John Neptune, Rebecca Potts as Princess Sunflare, and Doug Scarbrough as General Kelvane. To support the film and gain access to exclusive content, visit patreon.com/NeptuneCinema.

Rebecca Potts is a blogger and Academic Coordinator for a Career Coaching Academy. In her spare time, she likes to act, sing, and write whatever comes to mind. She’s been a mental health advocate for years and has shared her story everywhere from California to Australia to help stop stigma. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her fiance and two cats, Spyro and Crash.

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