• Dr Alex Baker

Pops goes to Indy Shorts | Sent Into Space’s work to be displayed at Oscar favourite indie film fest

There’s no greater accolade for a filmmaker than winning an Oscar. That’s why we’re incredibly excited to announce that a short film we worked on has been selected for Indy Shorts, setting it on the path to an Academy Award.

Pops follows the lives of siblings Roz (Samantha Spiro) and Elli (Nigel Lindsay) after their father's death. Created by writer and director Lewis Rose, and produced by Oscar-nominated producer Chris Hees, the film tells the story of Roz's attempts to grant her father's last wishes by sending his ashes to space, despite the protests of her religious family. The acclaimed comedy-drama has recently been picked up by independent film festival 'Indy Shorts' and we’re excited to see our work on the big screen. Sent Into Space were instrumental in capturing some of the film’s climactic shots of the space scattering. We conducted a launch for the film that sent a device 30 km above ground level into the stratosphere, which then released a synthetic ash (which we provided) into orbit.


Bridgeway Films (the production company that Hees founded) also used our support as technical consultants and engineers for the project. We advised the production team on how a member of the public could feasibly conduct a space scattering themselves, which ultimately shaped the final script. For the scattering shot, we developed an ‘amateur’ scattering vessel to release the ashes. The vessel was designed to add believability to the scene with its homemade appearance and rough-around-the-edges release mechanic. We also assisted the studio with drone filming, and provided other equipment necessary for the film.


As world-leading high altitude balloon operators, Sent into Space have had more than 700 successful space launches that gave us the experience to effectively carry out this project. While we launch all sorts of craft for a variety of applications, we had an advantage with replicating an ash scattering in space. Our sister company Aura Flights uses space flight to create unique memorial services for departed loved ones, specialising in beautiful ash scattering space burials that create sentimental memories for the family and friends that attend the memorial launch. We also provide livestreamed video broadcasts for those who cannot attend the service at the dedicated launch site. For Pops, we actually had to downgrade, stripping out the technological innovations that ensure a beautiful, serene scattering on our real memorial flights.


This isn’t to say the work we’ve done at Sent into Space wasn’t useful for this project too, though. Having as many launches as we have under our belt, you can imagine how we’ve previously had projects that share a lot of similarity with the work we’ve contributed to Pops. In terms of cinematography and providing footage for media, our videos above the clouds have been used for many different things. From the world of music and art to documentaries and television, we have worked alongside industry giants such as the BBC to create stunning visuals, which you can see for yourself in the BBC documentary “Earth from Space”. In this documentary we gave incredible footage of a solar eclipse as seen from the stratosphere. We’ve also worked with artists such as Sophie Molins to create artistic films, with the footage we provided for Molins on display in her deeply meaningful film, Happy Ending Happy Ever After.


Running with high praises since 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the ‘Indy Shorts’ film festival is one of only 34 film festivals globally to have the special designation of being a qualifying festival for the Annual Academy Awards. The festival qualifies for all three categories of short film at the Oscars: live action, documentary and animation. This means that the winners of the festival’s grand prizes will all have a chance of being in consideration for an academy award without the standard theatrical run! As you can imagine, this is extremely promising news for both Bridgeway Films and ourselves, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for Pops during its run at the festival.


We were more than happy to assist our friends at Bridgeway with our expertise for this project. The level of professionalism within a production team during the middle of a pandemic was exceptional, and our jobs were made all the easier by their excellent cooperation. It was also such a rare treat to see the actors deliver outstanding performances for the film in person, especially when at the time almost all media had been on complete hold for more than a year.


This was a truly unique experience that we are proud to have been a part of. We are sure that Pops will be a great hit amongst film watchers at ‘Indy Shorts’, and we wish only the best for the film’s hard-working team and future success.