It took more than four years, but Bobby Bala’s The Shipment has arrived.
The Surrey-based filmmaker began shooting the indie sci-fi short in the summer of 2015, and the movie premiered in Australia about a year ago. Since then, it has been on a festival-circuit run that ended with a B.C.-debut screening at Vancouver Asian Film Festival on Nov. 10.
Producer Arun Fryer said The Shipment was featured in official NASA celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and played along with musician Alan Parsons during live events last summer.
The 27-minute “family drama” stars Bala’s daughter, Ishana Bala, along with Aleks Paunovic, Robert Maillet and Omari Newton, and was filmed at warehouses in Burnaby with an all-local crew.
The movie looks futuristic, and the characters wouldn’t feel out of place in a new Star Wars movie.
The story follows Kaiden Katar, a widowed, interplanetary transporter forced to land his broken ship at a remote spaceport after losing his valuable cargo of alien livestock. Unable to afford the massive repair bill, Kaiden is stranded with his young daughter Zohra on the grimy shipyard inhabited by strange creatures and shady characters.
“The protagonist of this film is in the moral dilemma of transporting alien slaves in order to save his daughter,” Bala explained.
“He is a flawed but noble character who is driven by the desire to protect his family and serve the greater good. His story needs to be told because it challenges the idea that human migration is a clear-cut issue. Right or wrong is not always easy to define.”
At its heart, The Shipment is a father-daughter story crafted by Bala, a South Surrey resident who has a background in computer animation and runs the manufacturing company Elite Home Theatre Seating, or Elite HTS, on 66A Avenue in Cloverdale.
“That’s what helped fund the film,” Bala said. “I started the company in 2004 and it grew over the years. Filmmaking is something I always wanted to get into.”
Making The Shipment was “quite the grind,” Bala said, “and it took a few years to make the film. Post-production alone took two years. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone as a first-time film, but I just think big sometimes,” he added with a laugh.
Now that the film’s festival run has come to an end, Fryer said the plan is to release The Shipment online in the next couple of months. “We’ll start with Vimeo On Demand and a few other platforms, and we’re approaching Netflix to see what they have to say, and others,” Fryer explained.