James Yeats Smith (L) and Frank van Rooijen to accompany Mars One story. Picture: Handout/Supplied
James Yeats Smith (L) and Frank van Rooijen to accompany Mars One story. Picture: Handout/Supplied

SA duo directs recruitment film for Mars One

By Kristen Van Schie Time of article published Apr 30, 2013

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Johannesburg - A South African team is behind the video calling on applicants to emigrate to Mars in 2023.

Because really, ask James Yeats Smith and Frank van Rooijen, what’s cooler than space?

The Joburg-based duo wrote and directed the recruitment film for Mars One – an international NGO looking to establish a human settlement on the Red Planet – a seven-month space flight away. One way.

The film was unveiled last week when astronaut applications were officially opened. So far, about 40 000 have answered the call, including six South Africans.

Smith and Van Rooijen’s involvement began last year when Mars One announced its colonising plans, borne out of what Van Rooijen’s called their mutual curiosity about the universe.

“The project is a combination of all human knowledge, skill and endeavour,” Smith said.

“It will take everything we know about physics, everything we know about biology – all of science – to make it happen.”

So they reached out to the Mars One co-founder and chief executive, Bas Lansdorp, and started campaigning for the job of communicating the mission.

The result is a moving marvel of slow sounds and animated images, produced by Cape Town company Now and Partners, with no computer-generated artists’ impressions of a Jetsons-like world.

The advert is constructed entirely with genuine Nasa images of the International Space Station, the moon and Mars.

“From now on, we won’t just be visiting planets,” the voice-over says. “We’ll be staying. You’ll be staying.”

Forget aliens and space ships. The team – and tone – is completely serious.

“The mission is going to be met with scepticism,” Smith added.

“We wanted to create a sense of credibility, of believability. That the idea of space travel is not completely insane.”

The team will continue to work with Mars One, which bases much of its funding on a reality station that would cover everything from the selection of astronauts to their life on Mars.

“I’ve always wanted to produce a real movie for a real company involved with space,” Van Rooijen said.

“And there aren’t many companies that do that kind of work. To be involved in a project like this is an honour.”

So have the pioneers applied themselves?

“Not yet,” Van Rooijen said.


“I want to give the low Earth orbit a try first, just to see if I like it. Maybe then.” - The Star

Think you have what it takes to move to Mars permanently? Visit http://applicants .mars-one.com/

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