That’s a wrap: Sci-fi movie ‘First Signal’ films at Orange airport

  • Actors, from left, Conor Timmis, Chris Goodwin and Patience McStravick — playing characters Cedric Yonah, James Griffin and Major Ellen Sampson — stand stoically during a shot for the sci-fi movie “First Signal” during filming in Orange on Saturday. Staff Photo/David McLellan

Staff Writer
Published: 7/22/2019 6:37:46 AM

ORANGE — As actors Conor Timmis, Chris Goodwin and Patience McStravick stood still, looking stoic and alternately wearing “alien” and U.S. Air Force uniforms, director and writer Mark Lund waved his arms above his head and gave commands.

“The idea is right here the rockets come up, jets flying overhead,” Lund told the actors.

At Orange Municipal Airport on Saturday, filming commenced for the sci-fi movie “First Signal,” which tells the tale of U.S. Air Force Space Command receiving a signal from an alien satellite orbiting Earth, and the fallout from that momentous discovery.

While principal photography in New Hampshire began in May and has already concluded, the film still has a few more scenes to shoot at Orange Municipal Airport, including a dramatic spaceship landing scene using special effects. Film crews were on site in Orange Saturday and Sunday, and will return next Sunday, July 28, to wrap up filming.

Lund acknowledged that watching the scenes in production at Orange Municipal Airport may look odd, because spaceships are to be rendered using special effects and actors have to interact with “something that isn​​​​​​​’t there.”

“The scene today pretty much was (outer space alien leader) Cedric Yonah telling Maj. Sampson that they have been involved in our world for a very long time,” Lund said. “Of course, she doesn’t believe him at first.”

Filming Saturday finished early due to a heat index of 115 degrees, which actors Timmis, Goodwin and McStravick — playing alien characters Cedric Yonah, James Griffin and U.S. Air Force Maj. Ellen Sampson, respectively — said was a challenge.

However, Lund said he is confident the scenes filmed in Orange are going well, and will look polished when finally on screen. He said Orange Municipal Airport was chosen as the second film location for “First Signal” because it has enough “scope” to film scenes involving aircraft.

Scenes filmed in Concord, N.H., at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center included a scene in a bunker, a government meeting and a scene at a space observatory.

“First Signal” takes place in 2014 in Brussels, Belgium. U.S. Air Force Space Command receives a signal from an alien satellite orbiting Earth and calls an emergency meeting with the U.S. president. It is revealed through that meeting that the government already knows about the aliens, and has been hiding that information from the military. It’s a conspiracy.

A “conceptual film,” Lund said “First Signal” isn’t the type of science fiction movie with a lot of violence, and will be enjoyed by people who don’t typically watch science fiction movies, as well as by hardcore fans of the genre.

Lund said the film primarily asks what people would do if they discovered aliens not only existed, but had already established a presence on Earth and looked just like average human beings.

Plus, he added, the film is a timely celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, with some of the plot’s backstory involving that real-life 1969 mission.

“In the scene (filmed on Sunday, Maj. Sampson) receives a very special briefcase, and it’s actually the Apollo 11 plaque that was left on the moon,” Lund said. “Cedric is trying to convince her to join them.”

“First Signal” is Lund’s second feature film, having previously written and directed the science fiction film “Justice is Mind” about MRIs in the future that can read patients’ long-term memories. That film had a limited theatrical release in Massachusetts in 2013, and Lund said he is confident he will successfully shop “First Signal” to independent film distributors at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, Calif., this November, with interest already shown from about half a dozen distributors.

Lund said he has worked in the entertainment industry for several decades, including as a screenwriter, producer and actor, playing a Nazi officer in 2018’s “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot,” which was filmed in Montague.

With filming for “First Signal” about to finish, Lund expects post-production on the film to take about eight months, with the plan being to release “First Signal” in April or May of next year.

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.


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