Earthen astronaut Samuel Curtis (played by Cory McAbee) is known throughout the galaxy for his exotic dealings with the creatures of the solar system.
The American Astronaut, opening tomorrow at Madstone Theaters, is not an average space exploration movie.
A symbolic portrayal of the lives of people on different planets, the musically-driven flick is a product of San Francisco-based rockers The Billy Nayer Show.
The American Astronaut came to fruition after a series of short films directed throughout the ’90s BNS frontman Cory McAbee.
“I wanted to make a feature musical, being that I’m in a band and enjoy making films and acting and playing music and painting. I wanted to put them all together and make it one piece.”
Originally released in 2001, the film offers an alternative view on extraterrestrial life. McAbee considers the film a “musical space Western.”
The film incorporates a rock music element into a full-length movie. Ukuleles and autoharps create an added ambience to the group’s distinct sound.
This year marks the 15th anniversary since the group began playing music and working together, and this weekend’s screening complements the band’s upcoming show in Tampa.
It took three years of living in friend’s carports and working part-time in bars for McAbee’s idea of a feature film to materialize.
“When the three years were over, I wrote the screenplay based on the people I knew and the experiences, but only loosely inspired by them,” McAbee said.
BNS drummer Bobby Lurie helped produce The American Astronaut.
Funding for the film came after a friend of Lurie’s attended a concert in New York. He loved the band and wanted to know what other projects the group was working on. Lurie told the friend about McAbee’s screenplay, and the friend offered to help pool some money together to make the movie a reality.
Fans shouldn’t expect to see any of BNS’ cinematic wonder when the group plays on Saturday night, but they can expect a wild encounter with the man behind the movie.
“You can’t get it anywhere else,” McAbee said about the BNS’s performance. “The thing is that it is very narrative and there’s a lot of ideas behind the music which people are usually surprised by.”
McAbee also said his major artistic influence is Dennis Potter, the British filmmaker best known for The Singing Detective, originally released in 1986.
“I don’t try to write like him, but seeing something unusual in a musical was what made me think I could write musicals,” McAbee said.
“As far as music, I grew up listening to everything,” he said. “I would say everything has been an influence on me, both good and bad.”
Since its initial release in 2001, The American Astronaut has won numerous awards. Recently, the movie won Best Feature Film at the Crossroads Film Festival in Jackson, Miss. and another Best Feature Film award at the Luff Festival in Switzerland.
The Billy Nayer Show plays at Orpheum on Saturday. Doors open at 7 pm. Tickets are $7, or $8 at the door.