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Five Questions with Luke Sparke

15 June 2021

Luke Sparke at the Occupation: Rainfall premiere

Director Luke Sparke started his career working on films in the costume and prop department – for films such as The Great Raid, The Pacific, Beneath Hill 60, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Sparke moved into directing 6 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Sparke is behind the epic franchise of Occupation (2018) and Occupation: Rainfall (2020).

1. How and where did you first come up with the idea to create the world that exists in the Occupation films?

I originally wanted to see what my hometowns would look like after an Alien invasion as a kid, driving home from watching some of the best American sci/fi films of the ’80s and early ’90s. Those films were amazing, but I wanted to see the sights of Australia.

After filming Occupation, which was going to be a one and done, I got excited about that world continuing. A world where the war was very convoluted, just like our own history, and some Aliens wanted to find peace with the humans. I really dug into the different alien species and motivations along with how the war is playing out and how it might end.

2. How did the two productions of Occupation (2018) and Occupation: Rainfall (2021) differ?

Occupation I made by the seat of my pants. It was written much smaller. But then it grew as cast members like Temuera Morrison, Jac Mackenzie, Charles Mesure, and Bruce Spence joined. It was very humbling. And every day we were coming up with ways to make it bigger all the way through reshoots and post-production (adding in helicopters towards the end and such).

Rainfall I went in knowing I was making a big, sprawling story. So I wrote it big and sat down with the team to figure out the best ways of doing it. We had to cut it up into block shooting just to get it done then spent a long time in post-production. Even in post-production, I was coming up with new ideas to keep it phonetic and exciting.

Occupation is a story told over a few months but Rainfall is over the space of a few days with two storylines running concurrently and meeting each other at the end and even a cliffhanger, so yes the vision and style had to change to reflect that. It also has a lot more cast including newcomers that add flavour to the story. I also had to be conscious to make it accessible to viewers who haven’t seen the first one (on Netflix).

3. What is your favourite science fiction film?

I’m going to have to go with Star Wars. I just grew up in a time where it was ‘it’ and the action figures were everywhere. Some notable mentions would be Aliens by James Cameron, Starship Troopers (still holds up well today), and Independence Day for just being blown away when I saw it.

4. What is your favourite part of being a director and why?

Building a space that actors can enjoy and have fun in to be their character. Building worlds that you can create in your imagination. I enjoy the editing process and finding your film after all the hard work on set. Due to the nature of getting Rainfall done, I know a lot now about the whole VFX process, which I find fascinating and really want to continue to explore.

5. If aliens did exist and you could communicate with them, what would be the first two things you would want to know from them?

The why would be my first question. Why are you here? Do you know why we are here? The second question would be, can you teach us?. And hope they are friendly. I always say that there are only two possibilities out there – that we are alone in that whole massive universe, or we are not. Both answers are fascinating.

Sparke is currently developing Rainfall Chapter 2 – the script is massive and the main casting is underway at the moment. Additionally, Sparke is in the middle of pre-production on a TV pilot for an exciting series based on an amazing book series.

Occupation: Rainfall is Luke Sparke‘s highly anticipated follow-up to the 2018 Occupation – and picks up two years into an intergalactic invasion of Earth where survivors in Sydney, Australia are fighting back in a desperate ground war. Occupation: Rainfall is released on DVD, Blu-ray, and On Demand in Australia and New Zealand on Wednesday 16 June.