ICARUS DOWN – Paul and Tedi Nicoletos Discuss Creating Dynamic Sci-Fi

Sci-Fi is one of my favorite film genres. Star Wars, Aliens, Minority Report, and 2001: A Space Odyssey are some of my favorite films from the genre. A solid script and great characters are an integral part of a successful film. Sci-Fi films not only have to nail that, but must also introduce a unique concept. Sci-Fi films show us a glimpse of what the future could hold and transport audiences from their daily lives to cool futuristic environments with awesome technology.

Icarus Down is a Sci-Fi short from Reloaded Films about a military vessel is shot down in an unknown planet creating darkness and chaos among its passengers:

In the distant future Defense Space Craft ICARUS must escort a stranger named Draynar, carrying a mysterious case to a space station in the dangerous Epsilon 13 galaxy. All hell breaks loose when Icarus is shot down and forced to crash in an unknown planet. Captain Althenia Torla faces the destruction of Icarus, the death of her husband the fatally wounded Lieutenant Orrin and the danger Draynar poses. A story about survival, space and love.

We recently sat down with director Paul Nicoletos and actor Tedi Nicoletos to talk about what goes into creating a dynamic Sci-Fi experience.


What got you interested in filmmaking and the Sci-Fi genre in particular?

Paul: We both grew up in Greece, and from a young age, we both watched a lot of the same movies, and had a lot of the same interests. When we moved to Florida, for our High School years, filmmaking seemed like the right path to take. It’s what we both loved to do and coming to America we were immersed more into that world. Having access to that content at all times.  Regarding the sci-fi genre, watching George Lucas, Spielberg, Ridley Scott, James Cameron and all their films it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to like Sci-Fi.

Tedi: Ever since I can remember I always got lost in the world of movies, I would be transported to another world, the movie world. I’ve learned a great deal about life just from watching movies, they have an enchanting effect. Filmmaking something that I am very passionate about, I love the whole process from beginning to end, from where the idea is born to seeing it on the big screen.

What has it been like working together as an almost, brother-sister team? Has it made it easier, or have there been challenges?

Tedi: I think it’s been easier and tougher, at the same time. We know each other so well, that we take the liberty to actually argue at times when you really wouldn’t with strangers. But, we know each other so well that it’s good because we have the same taste and we already know what the other person is thinking.

Paul: We want to push each other, because we want to see each other do the best we can. For us it’s almost never good enough. I think that dynamic helps a lot.

From the Icarus Down trailer it seems like a survival film about getting along with others, is it?

Paul: Definitely in the survival vein. It’s very interesting. Apart from being able to contain a giant story in ten minutes time, I’m trying to incorporate a little bit of action, a little bit of drama and character development. It tends to be harder because you don’t have the two hours to create this world. You have to engage the audience as quickly as possible. It does have the survival aspect as one of the fundamental cores of this story. But there’s also a little bit of love in it. And a little bit of the tension, the fear of the unknown and this particular character Draynar who is not part of the crew. You have the survival instincts kick in because the main character is a captain and you also crash landed on an alien planet. Whatever story comes after the short film, it is all about survival.

Tedi: It’s also not about the survival of one person, it’s trying to save the lives of the whole crew and not only that. There’s a key element in the story that depicts the survival of humanity.

What is your favorite scene in Icarus Down?

Paul: My favorite scene is the final scene. Althenia still has hope that she will save Orrin and survive the whole situation. Even after Orrin dies and she finds out what is in the case she still has to pull it together and venture off into the unknown world for the sake of humanity.

Tedi: My favorite scene in movie would have to be when something snaps inside of the character I play, Althenia. She basically has a temporary moment of insanity and throws all common sense out the window and decides to kill Draynar for his suit in order to save the already dying Orrin.

tediTell us about the Captain Althenia. Is she the kind of person that would make Ripley of Aliens fame proud?

Tedi: Ripley is actually one of my idols. What we wanted to do for Althenia is we didn’t depict her as a typical woman type in Sci-Fi. We didn’t try to point out that she’s actually a female. She’s a captain. She’s a person. She’s strong. She follows her duty. Her main objective is her crew, her ship. We didn’t try to make her eye candy or the love interest of some body. She is the lead character.

Paul: For me as a director, I tend to not interfere with an actor’s character development process unless they go off on an extreme tangent that I have to say, “No that doesn’t look like anything that I imagined”. That usually doesn’t have to be the case. When you work with good actors they can interpret a character and make them their own. I prefer that a lot more than me saying, “I want you to play the character this way or be influenced by these other characters.” Sure every other film borrows and takes from other films and other characters. But if I allow the actor to be as creative as possible, then something, I don’t want to sound too corny but something truly magical can happen.

Do you hope to expand on the film, and make it a feature length?

Paul: Yes, our whole premise on the film was to inspire people to kind of give us money to make a feature film, whether it be a prequel, sequel, or something based directly off it, that all depends on budget and what’s the best story to tell at that moment in time.

What would you like viewers to take away from the film?

Paul: What I would like viewers to take away after watching the film are two things. That the scope and magnitude of the film is pretty big for such a small production. And having them wonder and question what will happen to Althenia after this story. My main objective was to keep certain things a mystery so that viewers can ask questions and try to figure things out for themselves after watching the film.


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Jim Napier

Jim Napier

Lover of movies and The Big Lebowski.