The Martians, aka Budget Cut

Back in the seventies and eighties, in and around San Diego and Los Angeles, a lot of youngsters and some not-so-young professionals were working on their own productions—Phil Tippett and William R. Stromberg, Dennis Muren, Tom Scherman, Paul Sammon, Mike Stuart and a dedicated team of enthusiastic fans, including Pete Wine and Larry Ortiz—and me! I was privileged to meet with all of these folks and many more at conventions and/or around the LA area, and visit a number of studios and special effects facilities—including the famous Cascade Studios, where so many fine animators, including Dave Allen and Jim Danforth, worked between their TV and movie gigs.

The production highlighted here was my only acting job outside of some local TV commercials—though I'm not sure I'd call this appearance acting. But Pete and Larry do fine work as stranded Martian astronauts about to achieve a historic place in interplanetary lore...

Thanks to Mike Stuart for bringing us into this, and allowing Astrid and me to help put together sets. The miniature of a station on Mars was particularly fun—we drove over to a sporting goods store to buy red chalk, and then liberally sprinkled it on the set, as well as flinging it about to make a dust storm.

Shot in 35 mm with professional equipment! I'm quite impressed even now by the quality of the interior set.

Any resemblance to a current hit movie is purely coincidental! But just saying—we did it first.

Addendum from Mike Stuart:

The cinematography credits go to Gary Sokol and Jeremy Sykes. I first met Jerry when Gary brought him in to help with camera (for free, of course).  Peter Wine, Larry Ortiz, and Steve Johnson all helped build the set.  Kevin Manion helped produce. Those guys always wanted to know who I was going to get for the actors.  I wouldn’t say because I had secretly hoped on using Larry and Pete. They didn’t know till the last minute,  when they looked perfect for the roles…. completely trashed from all the late hours!   And, lucky for me, they were totally into it!    

I remember providing you with only a rough idea of what the NASA guy needed to say to the Percival One crew.   You wrote that convincing dialogue and gave the perfect performance.  Your character definitely needed a couple of stiff drinks before stepping in front of the camera with the bad news.

Budget Cut was thrown together quickly to enter in the Starlog / NYC Film School contest— and won a first place award!

As I could only afford two 400 ft. rolls of film,  it was one or two takes only.  Almost every frame is in the cut.  Looking at it now, it’s a little rough, but we all had fun.  I was lucky to have all of you talented guys helping out. 

Thanks for posting it. It'll be interesting see what people think.

And, you're right— we landed first!



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