SHELBY, Ohio – The city of Shelby will set the scene for an apocalyptic alien invasion in the upcoming film “Fighting The Sky,” the second movie filmed in Shelby by director Conrad Faraj.
According to Faraj, the film follows a group of five ufologists who travel across Ohio and Indiana tracking down apocalyptic sounds in the sky.
“Eventually the film leads up to a massive alien invasion, and then it kind of turns into a survival film,” he said. “It’s a very different kind of film than anything we’ve ever done before or anything I’ve ever seen before.”
The 24-year-old filmmaker from Avon, Ohio was first introduced to Shelby in 2012 while filming another futuristic thriller, “The Wind Is Watching.”
It was while in Shelby that Faraj discovered his first inspiration for “Fighting The Sky.”
“I remember during ‘The Wind Is Watching’ we were driving back home to Cleveland and I just looked at the sky in Shelby, and it was this purple, orange, beautiful sky, Faraj remembered.
“That was the first image that came to my head when I was writing this movie; the film is called ‘Fighting The Sky’ so I was thinking, where is a gorgeous sky I’ve seen before, and my mind tracked back to Shelby, Ohio.
"Ever since that moment I decided to try and center the whole film around this town, which has been so welcoming to us and so hospitable," he continued. "And here we are.”
Filming for “Fighting The Sky” took place between July 26 and Aug. 15, with a 20- to 25-person crew working in Shelby and other locations around Ohio for the three-week schedule. Most of the crew traveled from Cleveland, others from Los Angeles, including Faraj.
“We shot almost the entire movie here [in Shelby], and some in Cleveland,” said Faraj. “I definitely wanted to shoot here in Shelby because it has a friendly, homey look. I couldn’t shoot that in Los Angeles where I live, so I came back to Shelby.”
Faraj noted everyone in Shelby has been very collaborative and supportive. Mayor Steve Schag said he was happy to coordinate filming sites, transportation and additional support for Faraj and his crew – even helping to bring military vehicles from Glen’s Surplus and Shelby Police vehicles for an exciting scene filmed on Main Street.
“I learned firsthand that shooting a movie involves a lot of behind the scenes work, so I have a fuller appreciation for what goes into making a movie,” said Schag. “The crew I was in contact with was very friendly and professional, and I think our folks got a taste of the big city with a movie crew in town. It’s a neat thing they chose to come back to Shelby.”
Many Shelby residents had the opportunity to be in the film as extras, simply responding to online requests from Faraj by appearing on time at filming locations. Larry and Connie Kuhn joined Faraj on set Aug. 14 with their 1967 Chevrolet Cheville after Faraj requested cars from the era for a scene filmed on 2nd Street.
“I think it’s pretty cool they’re coming back and filming another movie,” said Connie Kuhn. “It puts Shelby on the map. We’re a small town with all the quaint little things you can’t find in a big city.”
“This is a crucial scene in the movie. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is an important scene,” said Faraj during filming. “When I think 1960s I think Shelby, Ohio. It was one of the first scenes I came up with, and it’s kind of surreal being here and doing it compared to three or four months ago when I was writing it.”
Faraj said the next step for the film is postproduction – months of editing, visual effects and sound mixing. “Fighting The Sky” will be hitting the film festivals in early 2016, particularly as an official submission to the 2016 SXSW Film Festival. But not before first coming back to its beginning.
“There will definitely be a screening in Shelby; I want to make it a priority to bring this film to Shelby, Ohio,” said Faraj.