What do you get when you mix “Ghostbusters,” “Back to the Future,” “Twister,” “Safety Not Guaranteed” and the great Alaska outdoors? Cosmic Hamlet Entertainment’s first feature film, “Bolt from the Blue,” which wraps up filming in Homer this week.
Film producer and Homer native Mike Downing has partnered with Los Angeles director Jack Martin to create the science fiction adventure film in his hometown, featuring familiar locations such as the Homer Spit and the Kilcher Homestead. A 20-to 25-person crew began filming in September with the help of several locals, such as the Kilchers, Tillions and Halls.
“It feels really good,” Downing said about producing a film in his hometown. “It really was a childhood dream.”
Featuring stars Kate Flannery, best known for her role as Meredith Palmer on “The Office,” and Kevin Martin from “The Last Ship,” “Bolt from the Blue” is about a disillusioned electrical engineer who “embarks to Alaska to investigate a local scientist’s reports of a mythical ‘SuperBolt’ of lightning that, if captured and harnessed, could be the next great renewable source of energy,” according to Cosmic Hamlet Entertainment.
The idea came from Martin, who originally wrote the short film several years ago. When he and Downing began discussing ideas for their collaboration more than a year ago, the pair began developing “Bolt from the Blue” to bring awareness to ongoing climate change issues and professional burnout from once-loved careers.
“At its core, this is a story for people who have been dismissed for pursuing dreams that others have deemed impossible,” Martin wrote in the film pitch presentation. “On a larger scale, it explores the questions of renewable energy sources that experts, governments, and everyday citizens are trying to answer today, but it does so with whimsy, humor and heart for the entire family to enjoy.”
Martin shared he has a strong passion for climate change that began as a young kid watching storms roll through Chicago. As time has progressed, changes in weather patterns and an increase in natural disasters began to worry Martin, which helped inspire this storyline.
“Weather in general has always intrigued me — how we still are so bad at predicting it,” Martin said. With 35-mph winds on the Spit, predicting the weather in Homer proved to be a challenge for the crew while filming, he said.
“It’s so existentially exhausting to think about, and it’s only going to get worse,” he continued. “ … I think we need to talk about it more. At the same time, it’s really easy to focus on the problems and not the solutions, and we need more optimists in our world thinking ‘wow, here’s a problem, let’s find a solution and power through it.’ That’s the only way we get through this is to power through together and try to have the right mindset about it. That’s our approach to it.”
Both Downing and Martin shared they felt confident in the story arc from the beginning, and after several drafts of the script and deciding on Homer for the location, they were ready to pitch it and begin producing.
Downing said getting Flannery to star in the film was “just typical Hollywood stuff,” and after showing her the location and script, she was in. Conveniently, Flannery was already performing a comedy show with actress Jane Lynch in Fairbanks when filming began.
“We got incredibly lucky because she just got done on tour in Fairbanks,” Downing added.
Flannery did not accept interviews or allow photographs taken of her while on set.
Their love for science fiction adventure films from the 1980s and 1990s inspired the feature film, and Downing and Martin hope to see other original movies like “Bolt from the Blue” produced in the future.
“It’s a sci-fi adventure film with bits of comedy in the vein of ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ meets ‘Ghostbusters’ meets ‘Twister’ with a bit of inspiration taken from ‘Back to the Future,’” Martin explained. “I feel like we need more movies like that, especially because all of those movies were super original back then, and I feel like we don’t get big adventurous movies like that that are original at all.”
Cosmic Hamlet Entertainment received an abundance of support from the community to help produce the film. From investors to prop donations and providing locations to film, the crew was very thankful to be welcomed into the community. Martin wanted to express the “utmost gratitude” to everyone who helped them along the way.
“I honestly just want to say thank you for welcoming us into your community, making us feel like we’re a part of this community,” Martin said. “The amount of generosity has just been truly humbling. It feels kind of like I’ve found a second home.”
“Bolt from the Blue” is expected to premiere in 2023 and Downing and Martin are hopeful the film will show in Homer after the film festival circuit is over.
For more information, visit https://www.jackmartinfilm.com/bolt.