I remember listening to a radio-drama production of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero as a kid. I can’t recall any of the details; just remember liking it because it was about outer space. I certainly had no idea it was a satirical response to Robert Heinlein’s perceived pro-war sentiments in Starship Troopers.
Director Alex Cox (Sid and Nancy, Repo Man) has been wanting to make the story – about a backwards farmboy whose misadventures keep accidentally landing him into space-war heroics – into a movie since 1983. You might think that with the digital revolution, his plans have gotten easier, but no, he’s doing it old-school – 35 mm black and white celluloid, and model miniatures rather than CG (they’re going to be supervised by Phil Tippett, so you know they’ll be the best damn models ever.
So how can he do it for that budget (which has already been raised, with 3 days to go)? Simple – he’s making it a class project at the school where he teaches film, which is also the hook to get some of the best in the business to make special appearances to supervise. The cynic might say he’s exploiting students for free labor; as a graduate of film school and a veteran of set visits, however, I can tell you they’ll get a much better and more applicable education this way.
Cox has always been a unique, uncompromising filmmaker, and the idea that he’s making a black and white spoof of Starship Troopers for less than the catering budget of that book’s adaptation has my attention. I look forward to seeing what he does.