‘Alien Addiction’ Director Shae Sterling Discusses Comedic Timing And Aliens [Exclusive Interview]

With everything that is going on around the world today we need more laughter in our lives.  Comedies allow us to escape reality and enjoy a story that is doesn’t make us think really hard.  Alien Addiction couldn’t have come at a better time.  It is about a young man, Riko, who lives in the middle of nowhere in New Zealand.  His life is pretty boring until two aliens crash-land outside his home.  Riko and his new guest form an unique friendship while trying to evade an alientologist trying to capture them.

I spoke with the director of the recently released film Alien Addiction. Shae Sterling was kind enough to take a break from all the good weather in New Zealand to answer questions about his film that has been described by critics as “everything that I hoped PAUL would be”. Who knew aliens dealing with addiction could be so funny?

Read on for the interview.

Interviewer: On behalf of myself and the staff and readers over the LRM, we’d definitely like to thank you for taking time out for the interview today.

Shae Sterling:  Awesome, man. Of course.

Interviewer: Great. You said you’re calling from New Zealand?

Shae Sterling: Yeah. Yeah. That’s where I’m at.

Interviewer:  Okay. Great. Is that where Alien Addiction was shot at?

Shae Sterling: Yeah. Yeah. So, it was all filmed in New Zealand, just kind of a small area outside of Auckland, which is the big city in New Zealand. And yeah, it’s a place that no one really films much around there. So it hasn’t really been filmed, that area. It’s kind of one of the main inspirations for the movie. Yeah.

Interviewer: Really? Okay. So, you said that was the inspiration for the movie. How so?

Shae Sterling:  Yeah. Well, just the whole forest, and it’s got cool little mountains and things. And I guess it’s a little nod to Close Encounters of the Third Kind because it was that little mountain in that. Yeah. And then, obviously, I had the story about these aliens that come down and kind of niche it up. Shit gets crazy.

Interviewer: Yeah. That’s one way to put it, a lot of shit.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. Yeah. I drive through that location and sort of dream up a movie.

Interviewer: Oh, wow.

Shae Sterling: But yeah, the location did help a lot also, writing it. Yeah.

Interviewer: Awesome. Okay. When does Alien Addiction release for folks to check it out, and where can they check it out?

Shae Sterling: Okay. It just came out online now in USA. So I think as of Tuesday, you guys can watch it on most of those platforms like iTunes and Prime Video, Vudu. Yeah, there’s a whole list.

Interviewer: All right.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. Yeah. You can visit, where you rent it for $7 or something. Oh, I’m sorry, US dollars, probably 3 or $4.

Interviewer: Yeah. That’s really great.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. So, it’s doing all right. We’ve had some good feedback as well. So, yeah.

Interviewer:  Nice. Well, congratulations on the release.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. Yes. It took so long getting it ready. This is my first movie.

Interviewer: It’s your first movie?

Shae Sterling: Yeah. Yeah.

Interviewer:  So what was that like shooting your first project?

Shae Sterling: Yeah. I’ve had a lot of experience, because I’ve been doing music videos my whole life.

Alien Addiction

Interviewer:  Oh, wow.

Shae Sterling:  Yeah. I’ve done 130 music videos now. I was sort of more than ready to start shooting a feature film. Yeah. So the hardest part of making the movie was self-funding it, because I wanted to make it without having anyone else sort of telling me what I can do and having to ask someone to be able to make a movie. So I self-funded it. But that was easily the hardest time. And it took me so long because I had to just earn a bit of money and then go film a little bit. And that went on for about three years, on and off.

Interviewer: Really? Okay.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But man, we had so much fun because six months would go by, and then I would get the crew back together. And we’ll go do another week filming on the movie, another block. And it was a little bit tricky because some actors would sort of disappear overseas or something. They come back and we had to wait for everyone to come back together. And if you’re watching the movie, I can tell you. The lead actor, Jimi, he walks through a door. And then he goes into another scene, and he’s aged three years. But no, I just had to do whatever I could to get it done. The only advantage I had was time. I was just going with it, as long as it takes, as long as it gets done. So, yeah. So we started filming in 2015.

Interviewer: Oh, wow. Okay.

Shae Sterling: It’s taken that long to get it to you guys.

Interviewer: Nice.

Shae Sterling: I’m sure my next film will be a lot quicker though.

Interviewer: Awesome.

Shae Sterling: Yeah.

Interviewer:  So, you conceived the idea and wrote the script for Alien Addiction?

Shae Sterling: Yes. Yeah. Yep. I had help from my partner, Melanie. We would bounce ideas off with dialogue, so she’s got a few jokes in there as well. But yeah, the concept was sort of my crazy idea. It’s a very twisted circumstantial plot. That’s why I didn’t ask for funding. I was like, “No one’s probably going to try to fund us. It’s too balls-y.” But one reviewer said, “It’s every…” There was another movie with some aliens getting high called Paul.

Interviewer: Oh, Paul. Yeah. Okay.

Shae Sterling:  Yeah. And one reviewer said, “Look. This is everything Paul was too afraid to do.”

Interviewer: Right. It was.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. Yeah.

Interviewer: That’s a good way to put it for sure.

Shae Sterling: Yeah.

Interviewer: What was the casting process like? Now, you had a lot of funny scenes in the film, and I thought the acting was really well done. So, you definitely had a good cast of folks there. So, what was that process like with the casting?

Shae Sterling: Oh, thank you. Yeah. No. It was, yeah, heaps of fun. I did the audition quite a few people. Jimi Jackson, the lead actor, I sort of head hunted to be in the movie. And I wrote the movie around him. But the rest of the cast, I auditioned quite a bit. And one of the guys reading the lines for everybody, he ended up being Rabbit, which is Harry Summerfield.

Interviewer: Oh, wow.

Shae Sterling:  If you ever heard how Harrison Ford got cast in the Star Wars. It was the same scenario really. Because he was just reading the lines for all of the actors. And then George Lucas was like, “Oh, you’re actually going to be in the movie now.” That’s how Harry got his role.

Interviewer: Really? Wow. Okay.

Shae Sterling: I was like, “Man, he was so good.” It was like, “You’re going to be one of Jimi’s knights in the movie.”

Interviewer: They were great.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. And Melanie, also my partner, again, she was helping find our aliens. She was going to get some dancers that sort of the body movement kind of people. And she was so good at it that she ended up being one of the aliens.

Interviewer: Oh, really? Wow.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. I auditioned 30 or 40 different specialized people, and none of them had… Because they needed comedic movement as well. They needed to know comedic timing. You get a dancer to come in, but yeah, it just didn’t look natural. It didn’t feel natural. So yeah, that’s how Melanie got in.

Interviewer: Nice. It definitely worked out. Now, who handled the costume design, and who thought of the idea for the aliens to look like that? They have these little faces in the front. It’s really funny. It adds to the humor.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. Good. I didn’t have much money, so I had to think of something that was going to be easy to work with. And it’s a comedy, so we thought about these big buttheads. And we had a guy draw up some drawings, and then he just nailed one of the drawings. It was perfect. I want to post it up on our social media soon, the original drawing. Yeah. And then, we got a specialist for the lady, whose name was Jennifer. And she made the heads, and then we had to figure out how they worked. And then me and my partner spent a whole evening one night, just trying all these different little walks. And we ended up with this kind of penguin shuffle, we called it.

Interviewer: Sure.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We felt like that was quite original. I hadn’t seen that in any other movie, and we could do it. My original ideas involved a lot more special effects, where they kind of hovered around and what have you. But we just had to go with a cheap option, but it turns out that was the best. So yeah, that was good.

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Interviewer: Nice. All right. Yeah. Thanks for the answer. That definitely worked out. I wanted to ask you, where’d the idea for the aliens getting high on the shit come from?

Shae Sterling: Okay. Well, first I thought about aliens robbing banks and doing this criminal stuff. And that was kind of cool, but it was a bit more of a darker movie. But then I asked myself this question. I said, “What if aliens were interested in what we least regard on Earth?” Something we want to get rid of, but it’s the most valuable thing to them. And then I was like, “Oh, God. It’s shit, isn’t it? It is.” And at first, I thought, I’m never going to make that work. It’s too toilet humor. And then I thought, no, but that’s the genius of it. And if I can’t make that work, then let’s do it. So I experimented with that idea. There was an old movie in the ’80s called The Gods Must Be Crazy.

And that inspired me too. Someone threw a Coke bottle out in the window of a small plane in Africa. And an African tribe picked it up and thought it was from the gods. And it caused trouble in the village. And the guy said, “Look, I’m getting rid of it.” He wanted to take it to the end of the earth and throw it off the earth. Anyway, it’s a great film, and it’s off a circumstantial moment. So, in Alien Addiction, I have that moment. The aliens sort of stumble across something. Yeah. So that was the way I kind of made it work. And it’s also a bit of an analogy like honey, from the bees. It’s actually puke. The bees puke it up.

Interviewer:  Really? Oh, wow. Okay.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. And yet, to us, it’s honey.

Interviewer: Yeah. It goes in tea and everything. Yeah. It’s honey. You’re right.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. That’s what Alien Addiction is, really.

Interviewer:  I can see that.

Shae Sterling: You need an open mind.

Interviewer: That was funny. Yeah. They thought it was offerings and things like that. Well done. I wanted to ask you now, now we’re going to tell folks to make sure they check out Alien Addiction. Do you have anything else on the horizon-

Shae Sterling: Cool. Thank you-

Interviewer:  That you’d like to tell folks about?

Shae Sterling: Yeah. So, I’ve got two big scripts that I’m working on. And one’s a thriller, kind of a little bit like Ex Machina.

Interviewer: Really? Okay.

Shae Sterling: Yeah. Yeah. So, it’s not really a comedy. I’m always going to do a few jokes in there. And then I have a very big science fiction movie that I’ve been writing for about 20 years. But yeah, I might have to just do that one after, or sort of step towards it, take it something like June.

Interviewer: Right.

Shae Sterling: So, I’ll probably move on to that thriller next. So if anyone wants to come talk with me, I’ve got a few producers I’m talking with. Yeah, I actually want to just move on to it straight away.

Interviewer: Awesome. Awesome. Yeah-

Shae Sterling: Right now, it’s my first release for Alien Addiction, so I’m just going a hundee.

Interviewer:  A hundee?

Shae Sterling: It’s a term down here, hundee, as in 100%.

Interviewer: Okay.

Shae Sterling: It’s kind of crazy getting Alien Addiction what it deserves, and I’m sort of pushing it out there as much as I can. Yeah.

Interviewer:  Awesome. Well, all right. Well, best of luck. It’s a really good film. And on behalf of everybody here at LRM, again, I’d like to thank you for taking time out for the interview today.

Shae Sterling: Thank you so much. That’s awesome, man. I also forgot to mention that we’re number one in Australia and New Zealand on all the charts of downloaded movies.

Interviewer: Awesome. Really? Wow. All right. It’s a really fun movie, so I can see that. Yeah. Definitely. It deserves it.

Shae Sterling: Thank you, man. Thanks for your time.

Interviewer:  Yeah. Thank you for your time. You have a good day.

Shae Sterling: All right. Catch you later, man.


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