Space Age: Actor and director Nick Moran on his sci-fi spectacular about two 'old codgers on a long shot suicide mission'

Ahead of Space Age on Sky Arts tonight, writer Nick Moran explains how he got the project off the ground

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The Independent Culture

Apparently it’s raining in Cannes, Nick Moran tells me. I'm not entirely convinced as we speak over the phone back in May.

The 44-year-old actor, writer, director and producer is at this year’s festival to seal a deal on big film that’s under wraps for the moment. While he divulges very little about the film, he waxes lyrical about Space Age, a one-off sci-fi special for Sky Arts, he has co-written with The Royle Family star Ralph Little.

The duo penned the script over a weekend, after Moran conceived the idea of geriatrics venturing into space to find a new planet because they have outlived their use on Earth. There’s also a computer that doesn’t want to die thrown into the mix.

It’s a world, or indeed a universe, away from the urban gangster grit of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Moran’s most famous acting role to date.

 

“Once I had that idea, old codgers in space doing something useful for once, it’s a long shot suicide mission and no one wants to go on it. Everything sort of developed off that,” he tells me.

Moran continues, “The idea that you can be old and wise and be doing something useful, I thought, is quite compelling.”

Space Age stars Richard Wilson and Simon Callow, as the old codgers in question, who have embarked on this perilous mission. Moran developed the idea after reading short stories by Philip K.Dick and JG Ballard.

“Simon Callow and Richard Wilson had an absolute treat. We flew out there on EasyJet. […] They were very accommodating. I was on the same flight as them and they were like ‘this is not as bad as I thought’.”

But the project almost didn’t happen because of budget concerns and estimates that it would cost half a million pounds to shoot. In a serendipitous turn of events though, Moran stumbled across Alvernia Studios in Poland while he was at the Krakow Film Festival promoting his directorial debut Telstar.

After touring the studios, which resemble a sprawling space station, Moran realised that the project could still happen and went back to Sky to discuss filming there.

“It was all there on a plate, all you had to do was point the camera at these guys. They’re on a space ship. The set is extraordinary. The likelihood of finding a space ship when you’re looking for one is pretty unusual.”

Alvernia Studios is made up of a series of domes and looks as futuristic on the inside as it does from outside – even the canteen and the toilets look like something from a thousand of light years in the future, Moran assures me.

With the cast and set in place and production in full flow there was one other problem, Moran himself was unable to direct because he was starring in 12 Angry Men at the Garrick Theatre in the West End at the time.

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The Alvernia Studios in Poland

He was splitting his time between England and Poland, flying out at weekends to see how filming was progressing before returning again for the next performance.

It appears that Moran has fallen in love with Alvernia Studios and says he is hoping to make his next film there, which he describes as a “late 19th Century action movie”.

“People are starting to realise I’m not mad! I’ve not made up this strange Brigadoon place that’s just in my mind. It does actually exist and you can go there.”

“That studio simply saved me when it came to Space Age, we would not have been able to make it.”

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Space Age was shot at the futuristic Alvernia Studios (Sky Arts)

He recently even took Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch to visit the studios, the pair starred alongside Colin Salmon in a short action film called Little Favour last year.  

“If it’s good enough for Benedict, it’s good enough for any of us,” Moran says with a laugh.

Playhouse Presents Space Age Thursday 5 June 9pm Sky Arts 1 HD

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