TIFF: Shooting beyond the stars in comic documentary 'Lunarcy!'
The moon is seen passing through the shadow of the earth as it is photographed in Toronto Wednesday Feb. 20, 2008. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Thursday, September 13, 2012 12:45PM EDT
TORONTO -- Moon-obsessed dreamers provide the unlikely anchor for Simon Ennis's comic documentary "Lunarcy!"
Nevermind that its star is an eccentric young Texan determined to actually live on the moon -- such fantasy is what drew Ennis to the project in the first place, says the affable 31-year-old.
"It's about dreamers," says the Toronto-bred Ennis, who is showcasing his first documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"It's about people who go for kind of like big, quixotic dreams -- who kind of shoot for something much bigger than themselves."
Ennis says he originally planned a straight-ahead look at the moon and its place in science, religion, folklore and history. But as he met more and more people with intriguing lunar tales, his focus shifted to the heavenly body's sometimes bizarre effect on people.
"I read about a guy in northern California that claimed ownership to the moon with the United Nations about 30 years ago," Ennis says of his inspiration.
"He's been selling one-acre moon lots for $20 a pop. He's made almost $30 million and I thought, 'Wow, this is the best idea I've ever heard in my life."'
That man is Dennis Hope, who pops up as one of several interviewees that also include Christopher Carson, the young Texan intent on moving to outer space; Peter Kokh, editor of a long-running newsletter that imagines what life could be like if humans moved to the moon; and astronaut-turned-painter Alan Bean, who was the fourth man to walk on the moon.
Ennis says making the 80-minute "Lunarcy!" pushed him a bit further afield than he's used to, noting that although he has three shorts and a comic feature under his belt he has never attempted non-fiction before.
"The main difference is not writing a script beforehand but in a way that's really freeing, it's really liberating," says Ennis, who admits to dropping out of film school -- twice.
"A movie is a movie and I'm trying to do the same thing, which is go out and find a story and make something that's entertaining and funny and interesting for people."
And with a cast of real-life lunar fanatics as unique as those in "Lunarcy!" it's debatable whether such oddballs would even fly as fiction, he adds.
"The difference is if I wrote them nobody would believe it."
The Toronto International Film Festival wraps up Sunday.