The music world celebrated the long-awaited (13 years) release of Guns N’ Roses “Chinese Democracy” this week, which effectively obscured the unveiling of another much labored over project — Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne’s movie “Christmas on Mars.”
Coyne began working on, and talking about, the ethereal science fiction film about deteriorating conditions for a colony of space explorers, in 2001, and while filming was completed in 2005 it did not premiere until this past May at the Sasquatch! Music Festival in Washington state. The DVD and companion soundtrack came out earlier this month, while Pontiac’s Crofoot Ballroom holds a big-screen showing this weekend.
“I forget, in a sense, that it really is done, and I am so relieved that people actually like it,” says Coyne, 47, who wrote and directed the film and also appears as a Martian/angel-like character who helps the space station achieve physical and emotional equilibrium.
“I think, especially in the abstract world of songwriting and songs and being in a rock band, you just present things to the world simply because you like them. And after awhile you’re just exposed for either the evil, maniacal, twisted bastard that you are — or something else is there. So I’m just doing what I like, and it’s great when it’s something other people like, too.”
Coyne acknowledges that “there would be times I was the only guy who understood what I wanted to do” while making the film.
It co-stars the other members of Flaming Lips (Steven Drozd, Michael Ivans, Kliph Scurlock), as well as crew members, friends and relatives, and some Hollywood pals such as “Saturday Night Live’s” Fred Armisen and Adam Goldberg.
Much of the filming, meanwhile, was done in the group’s home base of Oklahoma City, with sets constructed in Coyne’s own backyard.
“I don’t know if Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch would do the same thing or would do it themselves like we did,” Coyne notes. “I could see someone like that walking in and saying, ‘Wayne, you don’t want to do all this (stuff) yourself. You should hire real professionals
“But I admired the way those guys could sort of surrender to this overwhelming obsession that they wanted to do this thing they had in their heads. That was their biggest influence on me. And, in a way, I’m lucky I didn’t have to wake up every day and go, ‘Ah, I’ve got to do this dumb movie.’ We were recording albums and touring, too, and then I could come back fresh to the movie, even if, yeah, there were some times when it seemed like we’d never finish.”
“Christmas on Mars: A Fantastical Film Freakout featuring the Flaming Lips” will be shown at 8:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 29) at the Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Short films by the Detroit’s Iron Core TV will also be screened, while DJs Mikel O.D., Tom Matich and Jeff Milo will spin. Admission is $5. Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to