Hey indie film fans! Welcome to “Jen and Sam make a movie”: today we’ve got a special treat! Rod Faulkner runs a scifi review site called The 7th Matrix where you can discover new scifi worlds. We’re excited to chat with him because he’s basically an amazing resource for finding short films online.
How did Rod get into sci-fi curation?
As he told us, his podcasting friend basically told him one day, “Look, you’re always telling me about all this scifi, you should make a website so you can share all these with everybody!” The7thMatrix.com has been running for four years, and it’s got hundreds of references so that you’ll never run out of new science fiction to check out. There’s a lot of pretty terrific stuff out there!
“Every time I think there can’t be any more, or any fresh ideas, there’s always something new out there,” Rod says.
Representation in Scifi
Rod’s always had an affinity for speculative fiction in all media, from books to television. In the 70s, as a child of about 6 or 7, he discovered Nichelle Nichols watching re-runs of the original Star Trek, and it made a huge impact on him.
“I remember thinking, ‘who is this gorgeous black woman who is on this spaceship,’ because I had never seen anything like that before,” Faulkner says. In other genres, he says, he hadn’t seen good representation of people of color on screen. “They would be prostitutes, or pimps, or side characters with no agency at all.”
“Do you think that because scifi as a genre is so forward-looking that it’s more prone to fair representation in media?” Jen asks. Rod does, and he says this representation matters because real life is diverse: media that’s not does not reflect reality. Fair representation also inspires: when you see someone on screen who looks like you, you unconsciously begin to believe in yourself.
“I already can do this because it’s already been done,” Rod says. “I believe everyone deserves to be centered in media. They deserve to be the heroes of their own stories. They deserve to see themselves on screen.”
“Science fiction really can be a fertile ground for the imagination, and honestly a lot of people in science, in engineering, in philosophy went into their fields because of the inspiration they got from that show,” he says.
So the all-important question: Star Trek vs. Star Wars?
Rod says Star Trek just because of the social commentary options it offered. To hear Jen and Sam’s options you have to hear the podcast.
“I’m at the point in my life now where I really do demand to see diversity and inclusivity in representation, because now when I don’t it takes me out of the story: I think ‘this is just not realistic,’” Rod says.
We discussed a bunch of other Star Trek/Star Wars factors, like Lupita’s role in StarWars, and whether Star Wars and the new Star Trek have gone in divergent directions re: representation. Is StarWars moving more towards diversity, while the new Star Trek is moving backwards compared to its original, ground-breaking style? After all, in the new Star Trek, Uhura has essentially zero agency, and her whole story arc revolves around a man. What’s the future of our favorite giant franchises? We also talk hot secrets about the past: did you know Gene Roddenberry wanted to write an episode with Uhura in command, but was blocked by a certain egotistical star? Rod’s basically a Nichelle Nichols expert, so if you’re interested in knowing about Black women in film, especially Black women in science fiction, you’ll want to listen in. He recommends both her biography, and “The First 50 Years of Trek,” for those of you who are interested in the real historic contributions and changes in television associated with Star Trek. If you’re interested in the development of its languages, and of other made-up languages, Samantha—who’s met the creator of Klingon—recommends “ConLinging the Movie.”
So what are Rod’s top five scifi films overall?
- The Matrix — not so excited about the reboot, though. Where are the new original films??? “It’s really frustrating for me because in my work with the 7th Matrix I just want to tell some of these producers, if you’re having trouble finding a new idea look at some of these independent producers!” He just wants them to leave that franchise alone, because it’s perfect as it is.
- StarWars: Return of the Jedi
- StarWars: Empire Strikes Back
- Alien — “Sigourney Weaver was terrific in that.” Did you know her role was originally written for a man? The great 1979 film that proves women CAN carry an action film.
- Terminator 2 — Because of Linda Hamilton’s transformation from Terminator 1.
Unofficial sixth: Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan — “The franchise really solidified and found its footing with that film.” Better than the new re-make for sure: you can kind of tell J.J. Abrams isn’t a big fan of Star Trek.
Good scifi for racial representation?
- “Check out The Expanse TV series—it’s very true to the books!”
- “The Few”—scifi set and filmed in Great Britain
- Orphan Black—“Tatiana Maslaney is great!”
- Dust—Asian-influenced fantasy short with high production value, silk-punk filmed in Japan
- Dr. Who fan series called “T.R.A.C.E.” (Samantha’s rec) out of Cleveland
- “Five Feet” — Dystopian post-apocalyptic scifi about a world where a virus kills you if you’re within five feet of another living person
What are your favorite scifi films lately? Tell us in the comments below, and don’t forget to check out Rod’s book of scifi short films on the7thMatrix.com. That’s a great date resource for the scifi couples among our listeners, by the way!