Horror Favourites – Simon Cox

Seventeen years in the making and over 100 producers & patrons, Invasion Planet Earth will be in UK Cinemas from 5th December, Digital Download from 16th December & DVD from 30th December

After the death of his young daughter, Tom Dunn is a broken man. When his wife falls pregnant again, he cannot believe their luck. However, his joy is short lived, as on the very same day, the people of Earth become plagued with terrifying visions of the end of the world. When a gigantic, all-consuming alien mothership appears in the sky and launches a ruthless attack on Earth’s cities, chaos and destruction follow! Tom must find the strength and wisdom to save his wife and unborn child. However, first he must confront a shocking truth. A truth which threatens the key to the survival of the human race. The ultimate war for Planet Earth is about to begin…”

The story of the production of the film is a remarkable one. A true passion project, Invasion Planet Earth has taken twenty years to make from inception to release. The film, originally titled Kaleidoscope Man, is the brainchild of British filmmaker Simon Cox, who directed, co-wrote, edited, as well as supervised and produced the vfx. Taking inspiration from sci-fi classics such as Star Wars and The War of the Worlds, Simon began working on the film in the 90s, spending six years filming around the Birmingham area.

After years of pitching to the UK film industry and private investors, a small amount of money was raised which Simon used to produce a pilot and for concept art to be created. However, it soon became apparent that funding this movie in what was then, the traditional way, was not going to happen. In 2012, Simon took the bold decision to crowdfund the film using social media.

It took two years and seven campaigns for Simon and his team to raise a significant amount of money which enabled them to shoot around a third of the movie. These included a spectacular scene in Central Birmingham where nine hundred extras turned up, in an epic, War of the Worlds style battle scene.

Simon then found some investors who financed the rest of the movie. However, this took time and once the live action scenes were finally shot, the special effects took another two and a half years to complete. In total, the movie was in production for seven years with ten years before that in development. Such was the multitude of generous donors and patrons of this project; the film lists over 100 producers on IMDb! Invasion Planet Earth will also include an end title song by Toyah Willcox (Jubilee, Quadrophenia) who also stars in the film. Matt Allsopp (Godzilla, Rogue One) provided original concept art for the film.

Simon has worked in the TV and film industry for nearly 30 years. He started as an editor with Film-Fair where he learnt his craft, cutting over 300 children’s programmes including; Astro Farm, The Gingerbread Man, Huxley Pig, The Wombles, Molly’s Gang and The Koala Brothers.

He wrote and directed, Overload, a short film which was screened by Channel 4, and directed 8 episodes of Sky’s sci-fi documentary series, Stranger Than Fiction. In 2002 Simon edited the BAFTA nominated, Cool Keys, featuring Jools Holland for the BBC.

In 1999, Simon wrote and directed the feature film, Written in Blood, which was commissioned by Dandelion Distribution. This was shot at Pinewood Studios and has sold all around the world, currently it is showing on Talking Pictures TV. In 2005 The Horror Channel commissioned a 30 minute ‘Making of Written in Blood’ documentary and described Simon as one of the UK’s hottest up and coming film directors. A chapter in the 100,000 selling Guerrilla Film Makers Handbook was also dedicated to Simon’s film.

In 2002 Simon left London and relocated to Warwickshire where he set up Alpha Star Productions, providing a local production service to complement the work retained from existing clients in London. Over the years he has invested heavily in high end HD camera and editing equipment, the first company in the region to do so. He has produced many corporate videos, commercials and training videos. In addition, he has edited two award winning shorts, edited a independent feature films, was 2nd unit director on “Gone Fishing”, an OSCAR short listed short film. Simon recently had the opportunity to teach film at Oxford University for the Oxford Royale Film Academy in the summer of 2015 and occasionally teaches film at Worcester University.

“As a child of the 1970’s, I was particularly swept up by the hype and excitement that the original Star Wars caused when it was first released” director Simon Cox said “I remember being in the cinema on its first day in my hometown of Basingstoke, and just sat back in awe. The crowd booed when Darth Vader first stepped into the ship after the iconic laser battle at the start of the film and cheered when Luke Skywalker first appeared. The special effects just blew everyone away. However, it was the story that really got to me. I so related to the journey of Luke Skywalker and his yearning for adventures beyond the stars. I realised pretty quickly that I wanted to be a filmmaker after seeing Star Wars and it had always been my dream to make a film that inspired and moves people in the same why, Star Wars inspired me.

Looking back, we had a great glut of sci-fi when I was young. Everything from Dr Who, Blake’s 7, Space 1999, UFO and of course there was all the American shows like, Six Million Dollar Man, Lost in Space, the Invaders, Land that Time Forgot and Star Trek. With Invasion Planet Earth, I wanted to capture that spirt, excitement and magic that these shows had. It took me a long time to find the heart of the story and over that initial 10 year period, I must have done well over a 100 drafts of the script.

All I really wanted with this film was to make something that moves and inspires people. The story is about hope and how all of us can change and reinvent ourselves whenever we want to – it just needs courage. Also, I wanted to make a film that was pure fun.

Now that I have completed the journey which has taken me nearly 20 years, I feel very proud of what we’ve achieved. Sure, a few million dollars would have been nice but what we have here is a film that represents what can be achieved when a community of people work together. Never have I experienced such love, dedication and devotion from people right across the world. It has been a genuinely moving and I feel that this is just the beginning of a cultural shift away from large corporations dominating the artform we now all have access to.”

Below Simon goes on to talk about his favourite horror film:

“I think my favourite horror film of all time is, An American Werewolf in London. It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure this one and was the first 15 cert film I ever saw in a cinema (I was 14 at the time – I know, rebel!!) but I love the characters, the story and the sheer ballsy ambition, especially at the very end of the film where the werewolf creates carnage in Central London. Right from the get-go, when we meet our heroes walking headlong into disaster, we can’t help but like them and laugh all the way with them. When they are attacked on the Yorkshire Moors by a werewolf, one of them is killed and the other seriously wounded.

From here on, our lead character gets a visit from his dead friend who warns that he was bitten by a werewolf and will in turn become a werewolf himself. With the help of a young nurse, played by a stunning Jenny Agutter, he must try and stop the horrors that confront him.

This is a very cleverly constructed film with lots of un-nerving dream sequences and moments of horror, but at the same time is juxtaposed with humour and pathos. A truly great movie, not just a classic but in my opinion, an all time great. If you haven’t seen it, drop everything and see it TODAY! (But not with the kids – but 14 is okay!)”

Invasion Planet Earth opens in UK Cinemas from 5th December and is available on Digital Download from 16th December and DVD on 30th December. For one night only on 5th December, cinema screenings will be followed by From Dream to Screen, a documentary featurette by Simon Cox.


Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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