Apogee of Fear

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Apogee of Fear
Directed byRichard Garriott
Produced byTracy Hickman
Written byTracy Hickman
StarringYuri Lonchakov
Michael Fincke
Greg Chamitoff
Richard Garriott
Music byDigital Juice (original version)
CinematographyRichard Garriott
Edited byTracy Hickman
Running time
8 minutes
CountryUnited States

Apogee of Fear is the first science fiction film made in space.[1] Filmed by Richard Garriott from a script and production elements he contracted from fantasy novelist Tracy Hickman, the film's principal photography was accomplished during Garriott's time aboard the International Space Station as a spaceflight participant on October 12, 2008.


The film starts with a faux preview for The Magnificent Five Plus One, which promotes the Space Station crew as the stars. Richard Garriott is billed as 'The Gunfight Participant' – a satirical nod to his official status as a 'Spaceflight Participant.'

A series of motion graphics under the credits leads us to a Soyuz spacecraft departing the International Space Station, bearing Garriott, Volkov, and Kononenko back to earth. Finke and Chamitoff wave goodbye but express their relief at Garriott's leaving as he was annoying them with his constant talk of computer games. Lonchakov insists that they all go back to work.

One week later, Chamitoff and Fincke are both missing Garriott. Chamitoff could no longer juggle without Garriott, and Fincke knew Garriott was good at settling arguments about which of them was standing upside down. At this point Lonchakov points out that the oxygen use aboard the station is too high. Everyone theorizes wildly about the cause which universally involve interstellar aliens invading the station. A search of ridiculous locations on the station ensues during which the surprising nature of the alien is discovered.

The completed film is just over eight minutes in length. It includes numerous references to classic science-fiction movies including The Day the Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet and Galaxy Quest.



Under contract with Garriott, Hickman quietly began development and pre-production under the cover title of Project Icarus. Once Garriott approved the script, the 'false preview' and 'opening credits' elements of the movie were produced prior to the flight and preloaded onto Garriott's flight camera. The opening credits were laid over graphics created by professional motion graphics artist Curtis Hickman, Tracy Hickman's son. Background video elements for the 'preview' were shot by Hickman at various locations outside St. George, Utah. Green screen elements of Helen Garriott — Richard's mother — were filmed in her home in Las Vegas.

Project Icarus had some very stringent requirements: the film could not impact the crew work schedule, could not significantly add to the payload weight and volume restrictions, and had to be a fully executed and complete story. In addition to the video elements, Hickman produced a PowerPoint presentation file containing the shooting directions and cue cards (both in English and Russian) which could be displayed on a laptop aboard the ISS for the crew during filming.


Garriott, as a private space explorer, flew into earth orbit aboard Soyuz TMA-13 on October 12, 2008, carrying with him a project code named Icarus: a project to create the first science-fiction movie ever actually filmed in space.

The original script was written for the equal participation of all six people aboard. When Garriott presented the idea to the cosmonauts and astronauts aboard, all were enthusiastic about the project but ultimately Volkov and Kononenko declined to participate for personal reasons although they still supported the project. This required Garriott to restructure the shooting of the script and the script itself while on orbit.

Scenes were filmed in sequence during the crew's personal time so as not to impact their work schedule in any way. The scenes were filmed over several days and thereby only took a few minutes to set up and shoot sequences on any given day.


Upon Garriott's return to his quarters in Star City, Russia immediately after his flight, he uploaded the HD video source files from his camera to a secure internet server, allowing Hickman to download them almost immediately to his office in South Jordan, Utah. Rough cuts of the film were completed within a week. The original film was produced in 16:9 widescreen format at 1080i HD resolution. This was subsequently rendered down to anamorphic widescreen NTSC standard.


The film is available as a special feature on the DVD Man on a Mission, Mike Woolf's documentary about Richard Garriott's trip into space aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. The DVD is available from First Run Features.


NEWS: http://www.slashgear.com/nasa-decides-to-let-richard-garriotts-apogee-of-fear-film-air-20210192 NASA decides to let Richard Garriott's Apogee of Fear film air.