Space-related films have come a long way since A Trip to the Moon — a silent movie with no camera movement or close-ups — was released in 1902. Filmmakers now use the extensive technology at their disposal to immersively transport fans to alien worlds. However, no one has attempted to shoot a feature film in space — until now! On October 5, 2021, astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) welcomed their first fiction film crew — Russian actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko.
The two civilians and veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov arrived at the ISS aboard the Soyuz- 2 rocket. Peresild and Shipenko will spend 12 days filming a 35-to-40 minute segment for a feature film dubbed Vyzov ("The Challenge"). The movie tells the story of a surgeon — played by Peresild — going to space to operate on a sick cosmonaut, whose medical condition prevents him from returning to Earth for treatment.
Prior to blasting off into space, Peresild — who beat out more than 3000 candidates for the role — and Shipenko underwent an intense, four-month-long "cosmonaut" training. They were subjected to conditions such as zero gravity suspension and high-speed acceleration inside a centrifuge. "It was difficult psychologically, physically, and emotionally … but I think when we reach our goal, all the challenges won't seem so bad," Peresild said at a pre-flight press conference on October 4, 2021.
In addition to being the first actress to film a movie in orbit, Peresild is also only the fifth Russian woman to travel to space. Shipenko is making his own history as the first director, make-up artist, sound editor, and cinematographer of a feature film shot in space. Meanwhile, Shkaplerov and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, who are currently at the ISS, will make their acting debut in a cameo appearance as the space station's crew.
Peresild and Shipenko will return to Earth on October 17, 2021. This time around, they will be accompanied by Novitsky, who will have completed his term at the ISS by then. He will be replaced with Shkaplerov, who will remain there until March 2022.
Though this is the first science-fiction movie filmed in space, it will probably not be the last. American actor Tom Cruise is rumored to be collaborating with SpaceX founder Elon Musk for a yet-to-be-revealed project. William Shatner will also be heading to space. However, the famed actor — best known for his role as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek series — will not be working. He will be enjoying the spectacular views of Earth aboard Blue Origin's second crewed spaceflight scheduled for launch on October 13, 2021. The 90-year-old will also make history as the oldest person to fly in space!
Resources: theGuardian.com, CNN.com,NASA.gov