Keith Arem (INTERVIEW)
The film is based on the Phoenix Lights incident back in 1997, what inspired you to make a film on this event?
I grew up in Arizona and was incredibly attracted to the content from living there as well as working with many military advisors over the years in addition to my work in video games. It was a great experience to work with all of these consultants but also fantastic to go back to my roots and explore a very controversial subject in my backyard where I grew up.
The film blends fiction with real events, how easy was that to blend fiction with reality?
Almost everything in the film was in someway inspired by real events which was what I wanted to do. Looking at the the events that took place in 97, we wanted to weave through that. Even the fictional elements were all inspired by true events and were brought together in the focus of what happened. And by using actual military footage, managed to bring that all to light.
There was a lot of research. I spent about a year and half doing the research and actually met with the vice mayor, eye witnesses and many military consultants to make sure we had accurate footage and were representing what was there. So it’s been this exploration and actually looking to create this television series and a number of films based on it .
The governor of the State who had initially downplayed the events later came out on CNN and said that he had witnessed a craft. John McCain opened an investigation into the lights, and the Vice Mayor had started an investigation and was told not to investigate any further. So it came the base of this amazing conspiracy where the military had said there was a miscommunication between bases and it was a flare dispersal but the Governor came out and said that flares don’t fall in formation for hours and they couldn’t recreate these lights. With over 30,000 witnesses and video footage from multiple angles and military officials and police coming out, saying they had seen craft that night. There was so much evidence of things happening there that the public just screamed for the government to come out with disclosure. I think this is the biggest thing that is coming out of the message that we want to come away from the film is that despite the fact that there will be controversy around the events that people will see this just as a fictional narrative as opposed to a documentary we feel that its time that the nations of the world, especially the US, needs to have disclosure about what’s happening with our military and extraterrestrial craft and whether it exists or not.
There are certainly a lot of questions to answer
One of the best things to happen, and it has been such an amazing experience for me as a film maker and coming from video games and this environment is that people have come forward and said that not only have they witnessed the lights but we’ve had military personnel outside of our advisors, and saying not only that they’ve witnessed things, but also supported what we are doing and wanted the Government to come forward. If 99% of these sights around the world were fake or hoaxes, that 1% is all I need to know we are not alone.
What was the inspiration for the creature design, was this from eye witness events or pure fiction?
That was a combination of both, because we didn’t have many eye witness accounts of any of the elements on the ground, so we had to reach towards our imagination a bit. And from similar accounts that had happen in other locations, we used a combination of those with my creative vision of how they would be represented.
In later films we will be creating in the material it will explain a little more of how that was portrayed.
So there are plans to continue this film with other sightings?
Absolutely, I am looking to expand through films and television to explore multiple incidents around the world. Through my research there were incidents that took place in Belgium, Russia, China, South America, so we want to explore that. We shot an additional 2 hours of footage during the making of this film and some of that will be coming out in an exclusive app and allow people to explore different elements around the Phoenix Incident.
We’re preparing right now with other incidents around the world and the connection between this and the ongoing military engagement.
I look forward to seeing that investigation
As a film maker, coming from video games this was the strongest way to make the way into motion picture as opposed to telling a traditional narrative as I will with my later films, but for right now I wanted to bring that realism.
You’ve come from a history of video games, does that narrative of storytelling helped?
I think that in games, we have the freedom to explore narratives in a none traditional structure, specifically, something the player furthers that narrative and immersed in that world. To me that’s a great inspiration to me as a story teller because you’re not just telling a story, it’s a complete 360 degree environment and world and you are maing the history and background of these characters. Bringing that experience into motion pictures and creating these larger franchises that can explore these worlds is what inspired me to make this move.
Was that an easy transition to make?
It was the most magical transition I have made in my career. The first day on set, I had the largest grin on my face and my producer said to me, “you’ve been bitten by the bug haven’t you?” It was a fantastic experience to bring my technology background, my experience with actors, and my passion for bringing historical research to life and incorporate all of these elements into one medium. Watching all of this evolve was the most satisfying project I’ve ever worked on.
So apart from the extraterrestrial investigations what can we expect next? Has the bug bit you enough to keep you in the film industry?
Absolutely! I’m working on my next two films right now and they will be more based on the traditional narrative of my recent graphic novels. With a new book coming out as well as exploring the other incidents based in the Phoenix Incident universe.
You are certainly a busy man!
I enjoy my work. It’s play time.