Lukas Kendall is the writer, director and executive producer of Sky Fighter, a crowdfunded sci-fi short film and proof-of-concept for a feature. Kendall co-wrote and executive produced the indie suspense drama Lucky Bastard (2014), “a clever thriller set in the world of porn” (The Los Angeles Times) noted for “humanizing the people behind the objectification, with lives beyond the smut” (The Village Voice). He is the founder and publisher of Film Score Monthly, a magazine, website and CD label devoted to movie music, which he created as a high school student on Martha’s Vineyard in 1990. Since 1996, he has produced and/or released more than 400 CDs of classic film and television music for the collector’s market, including albums from the Star Trek, James Bond and Superman franchises.
Q & A
If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?
I would definitely NOT want to live in the world of Sky Fighter! Give me the happy Star Trek future, please. Or just give me a hoverboard
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?
I am not a spiritual person. But for some reason I want to say Neo from The Matrix (which is hopefully not self-aggrandizing). Whoa.
Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?
Foe. “If droids could think, there’d be none of us here, would they?” (thanks, Obi-Wan). I am quite sure we are already supporting the robots in all of their endeavors. Greetings, robot overlords—mercy, please.
In 1996, Bugs Bunny recruited Michael Jordan and Bill Murray to form the greatest basketball squad of all-time, the Tune Squad; you’re Bugs, who’s on your Sci-Fi Tune Squad?
Restricting to filmmakers, because I don’t read nearly as much as I should: Kubrick, Lucas, Spielberg, and “Team Roddenberry” (Bob Justman, Gene Coon, D.C. Fontana, Nicholas Meyer, Michael Piller, Ron Moore—all the people who made Star Trek what it is). And composer Jerry Goldsmith!
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
For me it’s not about bad ideas vs. good ideas—it’s about the simplicity of the ideas and how well they work together. Amateur efforts have too many ideas. Pick one idea and exhaust the possibilities.
Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community? Or when your brain is in the future and your body’s in the present, is that isolating?
I suppose I’d have to be a part of the sci-fi community (lifelong nerd as I am)…although I’ve always felt alienated at conventions. I see people walking around with plastic bags of junk and chasing celebrities—pursuing trivia instead of substance.
Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?
I’m analog at heart, but have benefitted from digital innovations all my life—from desktop publishing to digital filmmaking. VFX are great, but I always tell my actors, “The best special effect in this movie is the emotion on your face.”
When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
This is where a lifetime of reading behind-the-scenes articles helps: you draw from cultural and real-world references and mash them together in unexpected ways. But most of all you hire good people and give them good direction.
Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Star Trek. Philip K. Dick. Practical, when possible. Dystopia, although I realize that’s contradictory with Star Trek. Post-Apocalypse—I get enough of the Pre-Apocalypse in the news every day.