Director’s Spotlight: Clay Liford

TMP: You seem very passionate about the science fiction genre. Why did you choose to write a character driven Sci-Fi film opposed to what people might normally expect?

Liford: I think it always comes down to my own personal interests, the genre itself is just a part of the palate, more things you can paint with as a part of your film. Sci-fi doesn’t always have to be rockets and ray-guns and stuff like that. There are so many stories within the genre and they don’t always have to resemble ‘Star Wars’. I bring that up because Star Wars is a great movie and is a movie that inspired an entire generation of filmmakers to want to make movies, including myself. But, it also steamrolled the science fiction genre and people thought that it was the template for what science fiction had to be.  People forget that there was once a whole tradition of low budget science fiction films that didn’t have huge rocket battles. My interests lie in things I’m trying to combine. I love the mumblecore style of movies, they’re intimate and real, almost to the point of distraction. I think those types of movies are great to do with a small budget because Hollywood won’t make them. So I wanted to combine sci-fi with that style of film. So that was the impetus for that.

TMP: I really liked the look of the film, and although I know it’s a low budget film I found it hard to determine if it was shot on video or film.

Epstein: Let’s just say it was a Panasonic HD with Cinema Lenses.

Liford: That was the setup. It worked great for our situation but it’s really not for every situation. Those adapters eat up light.

TMP: How long was the shoot?

Liford: It was an exceptionally short shoot, only 15 days. You sacrifice your sleep and your sanity.

TMP: I know you work as a cinematographer as well so did you also do that on this film?

Liford: I was one of the Cam-Ops. When I direct my gaffer becomes my cinematographer, I’ve been working with him for years.

TMP: In the last few years the two of you have seen a bit of recognition from Blood on the Highway, My Mom Smokes Weed, and now Earthling. What is it that keeps you working in Indie Film versus trying to go and break into something much bigger? Basically we understand that young filmmakers have to make choices early on in their career so if you could speak to that it would be great.

Liford: There are definitely a few paths for filmmakers, one isn’t better than the other.  You have to figure out if you want to be career crew or want to be a studio director. There is nothing wrong with climbing the ladder, working on a set as a PA and isolating the department you really want to be in. I think that method works fine but it’s not for me. I do it this way because I have stories I want to tell and I learned early on that you can do things yourself.  There is a difference in Los Angeles and Dallas. People in Dallas can be very proactive but in LA everyone is taking meetings. There is a mentality that what you’ve done before is really great but it’s small, and now you have to raise more money to make  a big film. So there is this film you want to make and you get convinced to wait for more money and more money. You can make a career out of going to meetings and waiting.

Epstein: If you want to make a movie at some point you have to stop and look at what you have and just go with it. I think it was January of last year that we just said lets to it. We were going to raise money for a different film and went with this one instead because we really needed to stop talking and just do it. Sometimes it’s actually easier to get the money you need once you are already ready to go, ready to shoot, or already shooting, instead of talking about doing it.


You can Follow the film at

Earthling is still making the rounds and is definitely a movie worth watching. We expect to see plenty more out of this directing/producing duo and recommend you keep an eye out for their work.