Science fiction is a genre that allows creators to explore the unknown. Built on the concept of imagination, it is a genre that pushes the boundaries of what we know. Lumina is such a movie, taking a personal look at human issues, all wrapped by a complex story of mystery. The first Hollywood science fiction film done in Morocco, Lumina uses the locations and crews that are normally used for period pieces to build something new and exciting.
Taking time out of his busy schedule, Gino McKoy jumped on a call to talk to us about this film, the struggles the production faced, and how it all came together. Even during a pandemic, Lumina came together due to the diligence of his team and the actors. Even though the stress of the production, the trials and tribulations of a reduced travel, and a busy work schedule made the project a challenge, Gino McKoy manages to bring a sense of wonder to the process, making the story of Lumina even more engaging.
CGMagazine: First, I would like to discuss what drew you to this project?
Gino McKoy: I grew up not only a gamer, but also as an avid comic book collector as well as an anime fan along with everything else. I actually got hooked on Star Wars when I was about three and a half years old. I used to read the books and everything else along with watching the movies, you know, several hundred times, I think. Yeah, I just really got stuck on space. And I really loved space along with astronomy and everything else. Aerospace is another industry I’m really fascinated in, and as I got older and grew as an adult.
For me, writing a science fiction movie that deals with extraterrestrials, the possibility of life on another planet, and interacting with our government, I think it is a really fascinating topic that I wanted to explore. I also wanted to explore the psychological effects of abduction on loved ones and people that are close to others. It was something that I grew up watching and I watched a lot of anime too, because I used to watch a lot of Voltron and Macross and I think that it just came naturally to me.
Outside Star Wars, I think that inspired me a lot as a kid. Doing this type of genre really allowed me to explore, along with giving me the freedom to think outside the box and the orthodox way of approaching story. It allowed me to do something that’s really experimental. What would it be like, losing a loved by them being abducted, and how would that affect that person or that group of people psychologically and how would they react to it?
CGMagazine: You’ve decided to film in Morocco, why the choice and what did that add to the project?
Gino McKoy: At first, we were thinking about Malta, but sadly it does not have a desert. Some nice beaches, but like I said, I needed a desert. For me, an underground military base really is mainly in desert locations. Morocco had a really rich filming history, going back with Ridley Scott, so they have the stages along with the locations. One thing that really helped the process was that they also have the film crew, so it almost felt like we were in shooting with a crew in Los Angeles. That really drew me to Morocco because of its location and I can build the stages I need there.
I took a risk on the stage because they’ve never built anything science fiction before. I made history when I shot there, we were the first science fiction film done in Moroccan cinema history. They do a lot of sword and sandal films there, such as Kingdom of Heaven and Gladiator.
CGMagazine: I did not know that.
Gino McKoy: Yeah, Kingdom of Heaven was shot there. I was actually shooting in the studio where they shot Gladiator and in the back of our studio is the Kingdom of Heaven set. We got million-dollar locations of locations that people haven’t seen before. And I think that added a lot of value.
CGMagazine: You brought in a fantastic cast for Lumina, How did you arrange for these actors?
Gino McKoy: Valerie McCaffrey, my casting director, she used to be the head of casting for Warner Brothers and Universal. One of the unfortunate things that happened was that we lost our entire first set of actors. It’s a long story. But we were faced with uncertain circumstances that never really happened in the film industry. Very difficult time, even though we completed the film, we had to recast in a week and a half, so they sent me reels. I chose them, and they flew up and came out to Morocco.
Thank God, because I had my camera crew that was also from the UK and then the camera crew decided to go back for Christmas vacation but then the second strain hit the UK badly. My entire camera crew wasn’t allowed to come back. So, my friend, Gabrielle Bernstein, who is a DP on Black Widow, sent one of his understudies who works with him. They spent Christmas and New Year’s with us, and we managed to finish in January.
CGMagazine: You have a wide range of passions, how do you find time for them all and is there one thing that drives you?
Gino McKoy: I think it’s all equal, I think I love creating. The music and film industry allows me to create and see that creation come to life.
CGMagazine: What is the elevator pitch for this movie? And why should people be excited to see it when it finally does come out?
Gino McKoy: Lumina is not your typical sci-fi movie. It’s unique. You get to live with every character’s journey through this movie. You live with them and experience their pain, the happiness and all they go through. It takes you on a journey. Every character is unique. And as Eric Roberts says, you hardly get any scripts like this. It’s a dream. And I think that with this particular sci-fi film, what stands out the most is the uniqueness of it all. We really get to live with the characters and get to know them.
CGMagazine: Anything you want to leave us with before we sign off for the day?
Gino McKoy: Thank you so much. I’m a huge comic book enthusiast and gaming enthusiast. And, you know, it’s an honour and privilege to be interviewed in this magazine.
CGMagazine: Thank you. Have a great rest of your day. I’m excited to see the film when it’s finally out.