Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 


Rolf de Heer tells Andrew L. Urban what inspired him to make Epsilon.

The idea for Epsilon came to de Heer in an inspirational flash. He was driving to dinner with friends one Sunday night, when the genesis of the film's scenario unfolded in his mind. "In ten minutes I'd worked out the characters and that their relationship to space and time was an interdependent necessity to how we were going to shoot it. And I felt it should be low budget so we could try things, rather than do things."

In those 10 minutes, de Heer knew that She would come down out of the stars (Epsilon is her home planet), meet the man (He), and travel the world, seeing humanity and its mistakes on its own planet with a clear, critical eye. It was also to be a love story. Some motion control images he had seen some time previously had been lying dormant, waiting for this creative spark. Shot by the Adelaide based firm, Digital Arts Film and Television, the footage had had a profound effect on de Heer.


"I saw some time lapse, motion control footage they'd shot of stars in the night sky...not understanding any of the technicalities involved, but I was profoundly impressed...no, moved by it, awestruck. I'd never seen anything like it. It was moving in a way that's hard to explain. It made me think of lots of things, including the nature of the universe, our place on earth, our place in the universe and a word I use - longing. A longing for what...maybe for purity, simplicity, care - and nature. A good part of the scheme of things, not a destructive part."

By the time de Heer had assembled his thoughts about making the film, he knew he would have to deal with many limitations. For example, there was no script because he thought he would simply follow the Digital Arts crew around the world on their shoots, and piggy back his own project to avoid the enormous cost and complexity of transporting motion control rigs. He would create the story and the script as they went. This turned out to be too difficult, and eventually Digital Arts cinematographer Tony Clark joined the Epsilon team with a smaller, specially designed motion control camera rig to complete the shoot.

The shoot turned into a tough, eight-month pilgrimage, with locations as varied as the Flinders Ranges (several times) South Australia; Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Palm Springs in the USA; the outskirts of Broome, The Pinnacles (250 kms north of Perth), Pemberton (250 kms south of Perth) Western Australia; Cradle Mountain, Mt. Barrow and Liffey Falls in Tasmania; Mt. Buffalo in Victoria; the salty Lake Gardner in South Australia, and night time shots of the star-filled sky at Innaminca, Queensland; and Ceduna, South Australia. (The production was based at Hendon Studios, part of the South Australian Film Corporation.)

Published February 27, 1997

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Rolf de Heer


Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020