When Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin made their historical journey to the surface of the moon as part of the Apollo 11 spaceflight, they knew they faced great risk. Analysis following the mission found that there was a 30% chance the astronauts would not make it home, citing one particular incident in which a crucial circuit breaker was destroyed. It would have left the astronauts stranded, if not for the clever use of a felt-tip pen.

In preparation for such an eventuality, President Nixon wrote a speech championing the inspiration sacrifice of the three men in the pursuit of understanding. The message was grim, but hopeful: we have failed, but we will try again.

It is from this speech that filmmaker Andrew Finch developed the concept that drives Others Will Follow, a sci-fi short about a doomed mission to Mars, and the surviving astronaut’s quest to deliver his final message to Earth.

“NASA has parked its space ships in museums in the decades since the contingency speech was written. Most humans alive today didn’t exist the last time humanity left low earth orbit. I wanted to make something that would outline the importance of human space flight by imagining a brute-force mission to Mars in the early 2000s that, despite disastrous circumstances still manages to pass the torch of inspiration. “

The nine-minute film was produced over four and a half years, with Finch handling everything from the VFX to the music design personally. It’s truly impressive; Others Will Follow features not just the production quality, but the overall technical aptitude of a big-budget sci-fi feature, with some truly stunning and clever shots. The highlight for me was definitely the launch of the lander from the Mars surface – a practical effect amplified by some pyrotechnics and a little bit of post-production work.

To see how Finch pulled the film together (with the help of a few friends, of course) check out the making of featurette below.

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