Why you should be looking forward to The Man From Earth Sequel Series
The Man From Earth was a low-budget 2007 Science Fiction film from the mind of Jerome Bixby that has recently been turned into a sequel series, following a successful Kickstarter crowd funding campaign.
The film is something that we have long held very dear to our hearts. We included it recently in Our 25 favourite Science Fiction films of all time list and we watch the film religiously and repetitively.
This aim of this article is to introduce people to the to the film who might not be aware of it and to highlight why the sequel series is something that all genre fans should be looking forward to with great anticipation.
To succinctly summarise the plot of the film, The Man From Earth is the story of an immortal man (John Oldman) who has lived from the time of the cro magnon until modern times (which places him at around 14,000 years old) who decides to tell a group of colleagues the truth about his immortality, before he leaves and moves on (which is something he does every 10 years, as a rule, so that no one notices that he doesn’t age).
Years after the film found its audience, Producers Richard Shenkman and Eric D. Wilkinson created a crowd funding campaign to turn this narrative into a sequel series and their campaign was successful – exceeding its target of $40,000 by $8,462. The sequel series wrapped filming on June 16th and the creators have now moved into the post-production stages.
The latest update from the creators detailed:
“The shoot has whipped by in a flash… by the end the crew had really gelled into a well-piled machine and the cast was sorry to see it end… now I’ll be working more long ours, with our editor, to fit it all together.”
Alongside this update, the creators released several new official photos from the set of The Man From Earth sequel series, all of which are included within this article (together with a few official photos that we released during the shooting phase of the production).
The news of the project moving into the editorial stages means that the show is not too far away from being completed and therefore that it should not be long until the pilot is ready for airing. This excites us immensely and we provide the precise reasons why below.
The Man From Earth is a film that purely relies on intellectual discourse, by which we mean intellectual debate and dialogue between its primary characters. It’s a narrative that is almost entirely shot in one single room (Oldman’s cabin, as he packs up his belongings, to leave), and it is all the better for this.
The seclusion of the location means that there is a much heavier burden on the script to be exceptional, and trust us – it’s one Hell of a script. Jerome Bixby even won seven ‘Best Screenplay’ awards for the film’s script, upon the film’s release.
The film is littered with foreshadowing, early on (such as the Van Gogh painting), which is then referred to and paid off later. The dialogue between the colleagues is taught and very believable, and the characters themselves all have personalities that shine bright and memorable. It’s a narrative that is truly captivating, right from the first lines of debate to the very last. No doubt Jerome Bixby’s history of writing for Star Trek and The Twilight Zone has something to do with this.
We’re sure that the show will follow a similar suit and that, while the locations will be far more varied, the quality of the intellectual discussions will be just as acute as those within the film.
Continuing the Narrative
Where other shows made from films seek to create their own, spin-off narratives (Limitless, for example), The Man From Earth does one better and provides an expansion of the story of John Oldman. Fans wanted more chapters in the life of John Oldman and the Producers are providing exactly what the fans desire.
The Producers have stated that they promise to ‘honour the tone, content and ideas of the original film, while telling bold new tales.’
When the pilot episode begins, it is seven years since the plot of the film and John is now calling himself John Young instead of John Oldman (John reveals in the film that he has gone by many names over the course of his lifetime), which holds an optimism that we love.
John is no longer dating Sandy and is contentedly teaching at a small college when a small group of devoted students stumble onto his secret. Taking no chances, John prepares to leave the school, but his plans go awry and he finds himself in a crisis.
Immortality Never Gets Old
Forgive the pun, but it’s true – stories about immortals are something that the general populace never tire of. You only need to look at the longevity of people’s fascination with vampires to see this. Humankind are captivated by those with the ability to elude death and continue living because we all know that we ourselves are doomed to die.
This is why the notion of cheating death thrills and captivates us all. Additionally, as the character Linda points out in the film points out – “what a chance to learn”. Truly, living 14,000 years has meant that John has lived through all of the world’s most fascinating eras and that he has even interacted with many of the most famous individuals in history (the Buddha, Van Gogh and more).
In the film, John insists that he never said he was “immortal”. What John means by this is that he never claimed to be invulnerable and that he in fact does not know what might happen if someone harms him fatality (which may or may not be true – we suspect that many have come close to killing John in the past, with no luck). Perhaps the show will finally answer the question of what happens when someone tries to fatality wound John.
Old School SF Style
Old school SF is the best kind of SF. Films like Duncan Jones’ Moon proved this, by harking back to that older style (Jones even deliberately shot this film on the set of Ridley Scott’s Alien) and ever since then, more and more modern SF films have been veering back towards this older style (Midnight Special, to name one).
TV has also begun to swing back towards old school SF too. You only need to look at shows like HBO’s Westworld to see this, which is a remake and new spin on the 1973 film.
By ‘old school SF’ we mean SF narratives like the classic films/TV/literature of the pre-1980 era. This means thoughtful, idea-driven narratives which focus on intriguing ‘what if’ notions, rather than focusing on flash and spectacle. The Man From Earth film accomplished this in spades and we’re sure that the sequel series will follow in the same vein.
The Man From Earth sequel series does not yet have an air date, other than a 2017 slot, but we will keep you updated as soon as one arrives. We will also be reviewing the show upon its arrival.
In the meantime, if you wish for more information on the show, we suggest that you keep an eye on the Kickstarter page, where the Producers provide regular updates.
Image credits: Kickstarter, Richard Shenkman and Eric D. Wilkinson