By now we all know about Argo, Ben Affleck's new film based on the true story of a CIA agent who smuggled six Americans out of crisis-ridden Iran using a science fiction movie production as cover. But whatever happened to the real screenplay the CIA used to make that cover work? One filmmaker is out to shed some light on that.
In the mid-70s, an "enigmatic inventor" named Barry Ira Geller bought the film rights to Roger Zelazny's sci-fi novel Lord of Light. With an ambitious sci-fi project in his head, Geller adapted the book into a screenplay, then assembled a production team that included comic book artist Jack "King" Kirby, Oscar-winning makeup artist John Chambers, futurist Buckminster Fuller and sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury. His goal was to first make the biggest sci-fi epic Hollywood had ever seen (this was still pre-Star Wars) and then turn the production into the first science fiction theme park. Sadly, the production crumbled before anything could be filmed, and Emmy-nominated documentarian Judd Ehrlich is out to tell you why.
Ehrlich's been working on a documentary telling the story of the Lord of Light adaptation, which produced the Argo script used in the CIA's Iran operation, since well before Affleck's film went into production. Now, with public interest focused on the story, he's launched a Kickstarter campaign to make a final push to finish the film. Titled Science Fiction Land, Ehrlich's billing his project as the film that will show you all the parts of the tale that Argo won't.
"This month Ben Affleck and Warner Bros. are releasing a fictionalized Hollywood version of this story, which leaves out the use of Barry Geller's screenplay, Jack Kirby's production drawings, and John Chambers' idea to use a sci-fi movie as the caper - the very the body of work that made the CIA rescue mission possible," Ehrlich said. "SCIENCE FICTION LAND includes these vital characters and events, and exploring the unbelievable connections between the visionary work of Geller, Kirby, Chambers and the Science Fiction Land team to the saving of six lives."
So far Ehrlich's campaign has raised nearly $6,000 of a $50,000 goal, with a few weeks left to get backers. If you want to see this film get made, check out Ehrlich's introductory video below, then head over to Kickstarter.