Screen scene: Local film news

INTERGALACTIC: Rock Eblen, left, consults cinematographer Kira Bursky on the set of their film 'Amy's Alien.' The musical with a sci-fi twist aims to raise awareness of and find solutions to school bullying.
INTERGALACTIC: Rock Eblen, left, consults cinematographer Kira Bursky on the set of their film 'Amy's Alien.' The musical with a sci-fi twist aims to raise awareness of and find solutions to school bullying. Photo by Jeffrey DeCristofaro

For his next project, Asheville-based artist Rock Eblen was planning to release an album of his best songs from over the years. But the persistence of an unfortunate social issue among contemporary youths took him in another direction.

“I was inspired by the success of Broadway musicals like Hamilton, so I started creating all new songs with a storyline,” Eblen says. “I also have nieces and nephews in local schools and want them to feel safe from bullying.”

Called Amy’s Alien, the film centers on the titular young girl (played by Mia Sander), a victim of bullying and subsequent depression. Upon meeting a mysterious young visitor (Ben McIntire) from another planet, Amy is granted the ability to hear people’s thoughts. She comes to understand why people hurt and learns about empathy while making a commitment to spread tolerance and understanding.

“I feel social media and new technology have caused a disconnect among students where they depend more on their various screens and don’t relate personally — eye to eye — much anymore,” Eblen says. “This is why most schools have implemented bans on smartphones. The kids are just too distracted, and they also use their devices to post pics and comments about each other … often anonymously and hurtfully.”

The video for the first song was filmed in October. Now Eblen’s Bioflyer Productions is looking to raise $9,500 (half of the film’s total budget) through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in order to continue shooting the 50-minute film and its nine additional songs.

The writer/director began outlining the screenplay about a year ago and decided to tell the story mostly with music and lyrics. The songs and dialogue continue to be refined as he and his crew cast more characters and develop new scenes of the work in progress.

“There’s a mix of styles, but mostly emphasizing a dance/electronica feel,” Eblen says. “The writing, instrumentation and recording is all done by myself in my home, mostly using Garage Band [recording software]. When it’s time to put down the actors’ vocals and mix down, then we work with Anthony Dorian at Good Flow Productions [in Asheville].”

Local filmmaker Kira Bursky is the cinematographer and editor of Amy’s Alien. Initial casting took place at Asheville School of Film, and more local actors will be added as the production advances.

Eblen plans to share Amy’s Alien at regional school festivals and connect with various educational programs. He and his crew will also maintain a strong online presence. “I want to encourage collaboration more than competition among artists,” Eblen says. “[I] believe deeply that arts and especially film arts can have a transformational quality to open people up and share more feelings.”

About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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