Christmas on Mars

Explore The Flaming Lips’ 2008 film about the first Christmas on Mars with this playlist – from the 1999 Christmas card painting by Michelle Coyne that partly inspired the film to its 2003 trailer to its eventual Sasquatch première, and beyond…

In this video Wayne Coyne explains his inspirations and why there’s so many vaginas in his “Christmas movie”…

Christmas in Mars notoriously took years longer than expected to finish, but since its 2008 release it has become a Christmas cult classic.  It was broadcasted by the Sundance channel on Christmas in both 2008 and 2009, and in 2010 it was presented at the historic Texas Theatre on December 22nd with a special Q & A with co-director Bradley Beesley (in-person) and Wayne Coyne (via phone).

pegasusnews.com reported “After the show, co-director Bradley Beesley was brought to the front for a small talk about the film and a Q-and-A. (We were secretly hoping a Flaming Lip would accompany him, but no such luck.) Beesley told us how Coyne approached him with this crazy movie, and he denied him because he only shot documentaries. But as time went on, Beesley agreed. It took seven years to make the film due to the Flaming Lips’ tour schedules. Coyne shopped at Home Depot for the sets and costumes, bringing his finished products to the shoots. Beesley asked the small crowd if we wanted to call Wayne and ask him questions. So through the cell phone set on speaker, Lips fans questioned their idol.

One asked how he came up with the idea, and he said it just appeared in his head. He said that he was obsessed with it and became a slave to making it. Beesley asked him what scene was the most stressful and why; Coyne said all of them. Beesley interjected with his own answer, describing a time when Adam Goldberg was shooting some scenes in Austin for Christmas on Mars, while the Flaming Lips were playing SXSW and acting on various panels for the festival. He said trying to make all of the schedules work was tricky.

To get a sense of just how much the film developed, take a look at the 2003 trailer (first released on the Fight Test EP) and this news posted by The Flaming Lips on their website even earlier, circa January 2002: “The Flaming Lips’ first feature film, ‘Christmas on Mars’ will be available in time for Christmas in 2002. Written and directed by Wayne Coyne, and featuring all of the band and many of their associates, the film tells the story of the experiences of Major Syrtis during the first Christmas on a newly-colonised Mars. Wayne has compared the film to, “Maybe ‘Eraserhead’ or ‘Dead Man’ crossed with some kind of fantasy and space aspects, like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and maybe ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ except done without real actors or money, and set at Christmas-time.” and the story that unfolds is intended to hint at ‘childlike’ magic within a tragic and realistic situation.

Full details of the plot have not been revealed, but Wayne has explained the general background to rollingstone.com, “It’s sometime in the future, Mars has been sort of conquered and there’s a space station on it but the space program has gone into decline and these people are kind of stuck up there. They’re in the process of converting the spaceships that took them there into a place to live in and that process doesn’t go too smoothly. The whole thing ends up very dilapidated, very un-futuristic, un-‘2001’. There’s an element of confidence among the scientists, but the overall view is that things seem kind of doomed.”

It is not intended for ‘Christmas on Mars’ to be released at conventional movie theaters. Instead, a DVD release will be preceeded by a number of screenings at rock venues. In true Flaming Lips style, the plan is to use more than the standard movie screening equipment and turn each screening into ‘a big visceral event’. Speaking to mtv.com, Wayne has explained, “We want to show the movie with a mega-sound system and snow machines and just make it like a bigger event than what has become the typical movie-going experience. I’m hoping that people can watch this movie while they drink beer, smoke cigarettes, and have a good time.” It is expected that the DVD will be released by Warner Bros, and that it will include a number of bonus features. These will include out-takes, a score-only audio track, probably all of the band’s promotional videos for Warner Bros, and possibly (director of photography) Bradley Beesley’s documentary short, ‘The Flaming Lips Have Landed’.

At the beginning of 2002, over 20 minutes of edited film were ready, with music and preliminary sound effects also completed for these scenes. The movie is being shot on 16mm film, with most of the sets based in Wayne’s Oklahoma City house… Much more filming is due to be carried out in the first months of 2002, and we’ll have some more pictures here in due course – further to the snapshots from screentesting that are displayed below. Whether we’ll say much more about the story remains to be seen, as we wouldn’t want to undermine any surprises!”

Christmas on Mars was immiediately preceded by a proper Flaming Lips Christmas album (planned to feature guest vocals by Tom Waits, David Bowie, Björk, Bono, Garbage singer Shirley Manson and others) from 2000 that was never finished – click here for that story.

Click here to listen to and read all about The Flaming Lips’ secret Christmas album, click here to watch a YouTube playlist with 15 hours worth of the coolest Christmas music you probably haven’t heard and here for more on the dancing Santas that are part of the band’s imagery all year round.

For songs of the day, music news, Flaming Lips quotes and more… follow at twitter.com/FutureHeartDay.

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