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Recreating Mars in Bulgaria for Syfy's "Red Faction: Origins"

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 The Syfy channel's "Red Faction: Origins" is a TV movie that is literally out of this world. The action-adventure story is set on Mars, and based on the successful "Red Faction" video games. So where does the production team go to recreate the Red Planet?

 Director Michael Nankin says, "We shot it in Bulgaria in the winter, which is as close as you can get to Mars. It was very cold on the sound stages. We added a line in the film that explains 'the terraformers made the air breathable, but it didn't move Mars any closer to the sun.'" That was to explain all the cold fog coming out of the actors' mouths. The actors note that they had to cope with the cold and constantly chew on ice cubes before doing their scenes against the green screen, to keep their breath from being too visible.

 Although the Mars Rover sent back pictures of a rocky uninhabited Red Planet, that was not the location the production was looking for. Nankin explains, "Bulgaria gave us the Mars of the story, which has been developed as a mining colony for 200 years.  And the evil overlords have been kicked out 20 years before, which is exactly what happened in Bulgaria. We found a Soviet-era steel mill that had been rusting for 20 years. I think it was 25 miles long, and that become our Eos location. We found a series of caves, and that location gave us quite a bit. Then, of course, we used CGI for spaceships and those kinds of things."

 The movie will act as a pilot for a future Syfy series, anticipating strong ratings for its June 4 premiere, according to executive producer Andrew Kreisberg. It is an unusual production that is a first of its kind trans-media deal, debuting less than a week after the "Red Faction Armageddon" video game is released. The movie is produced by Universal Cable Productions and UFO Films, based on the video game franchise from THQ.
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