Down an ordinary street in an ordinary neighbourhood in Melbourne's east there's an intergalactic surprise.
That surprise – a spaceship built in a garage – is the brainchild of long-time friends and science-fiction buffs Andrew Jaksch and Scott Robson. That's right, there's a spaceship inside a four-car garage at Mr Jaksch's family home in Balwyn North.
It doesn't fly (it's only a movie set) but if you watch the pair's independent short-film Thalamos you'd be none the wiser and if you stepped inside the little world Mr Jaksch and Mr Robson created you'd have no problem thinking you'd been transported to the set of a sci-fi epic.
"When you see peoples reaction to it, yeah, they might know about it, but it blows them away," Mr Jaksch said. "It came up bloody awesome. Its lovely watching people's reactions."
Mr Jaksch and Mr Robson have long spoken about making a sci-fi film. The former works in construction and the latter is a handyman with experience producing film shorts. They met while studying and both have a background in architectural drafting.
"We always talk film, stories and sci-fi," Mr Jaksch said. "It got to the point where one day I said to him lets stop talking about it, lets make something'."
So they did. They began designing and building the set four years ago to bring the sci-fi screenplay they had written to life. It took about a year to build and three years later it still stands. They mostly used "bits and pieces" they found on work sites, hard rubbish and stuff their neighbours wanted to throw out.
"The hatch door in the airlock was a piece of packaging off a fridge that was delivered to a work site," Mr Jaksch said. "Some of the ceiling is a Swedish bed with polka-dot holes in it left on the side of the road.
"The door handles are old glazier glass-suckers. The antenna on Mars (where some of the movie is set) is from a mate round the corner; its from an old gas patio heater. There are bits of styrofoam from hot plates that were delivered to site as the walls … all sorts of crap."
The resulting look is a mix of the pair's favourite sci-fi classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars and Moon (directed by David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones).
And like their treasured old-school sci-fi classics,Thalamos uses no CGI. Spaceship models were made by Mr Robson and Anthony McGoldrick, a man from a local model-making club. The costumes are all original designs made from scratch. Scenes on Mars were filmed on Victorian sand dunes and on beaches on the Mornington Peninsula.
"That sort of method of filmmaking is what really appealed to us," Mr Jaksch said. "Notwithstanding we had no access to CGI, we wanted to go that way.
"It is supposed to be a little bit kooky and a little bit old school. Hence the bubble helmets and a homage or two to the roots of science-fiction."
But now Mr Jaksch wants his garage back. The spaceship will be out by the end of the year, but not before he lets some media students in for a peak and some models inside for a fashion shoot too.
One of his mates thinks it would be great put on the back of a truck as a pop-up bar, but at this stage the set looks destined for the bin.
Thalamos has been shown at the 43rd Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival (where it won an award) plus three other overseas film festivals. The pair hope it will make it to a few Australian film festivals before they release it on the internet later this year.
Check out Thalamos on Facebook here.
Anthony Colangelo is a sports and breaking news reporter at The Age
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