The entire 'Zero-Point' season zero will be available online from 26 January, 2019.Image: Facebook
Australian animator Jonathon Saunders is set to bring superheroes to the outback in his new project, 'Zero-Point'.
As its namesake suggests, the universe takes place in the wake of a nuclear-quantum event, with Indigenous hero Zero-Point (voiced by award-winning actor Mark Coles Smith, 'Picnic At Hanging Rock') inheriting his superpowers and costume from his deceased father.
Zero-Point is the pivotal protagonist, an operative forced into working for government organisation AFECO (Australian Federal Extra-Normal Civil Operatives) in the wake of mounting international chaos and disarray.
It is the year 2020, a post-humanist landscape besieged by terrorists groups and amped-up drug epidemics.
“I chose for that to take place on Australia Day to involve a lot of people,” Jonathon says of the first episode, “by acknowledging and highlighting the debate in regards to the Indigenous sovereignty issues – changing the date, issues that Australia Day attracts.
“I felt that since a lot of fiction tends to be a mirror of the current day, it was important to acknowledge.”
The series incorporates parallels to the current political climate through the lens of a dystopian near-future. The people of Australia are affected by an epidemic of fictional drug 'EYCE', which quite literally freezes addicts and spreads to their surrounding environments.
“The trick is to have the finger on the button, while walking the fine line between the issues of the day and weaving them into the story, so they don't feel dated, so it still feels universal. There will be something relevant to every country.”
'Zero-Point' has its protagonist come to question the legitimacy of the government for which he works, realising the value of central antagonist Samson's (Stephen Oliver of 'Black Comedy') perspective. “I feel that the villains who really work best speak a sort of truth to the hero and make them doubt. The best villains explore these questions within a fictional society and within reality.
“While Samson has valid points, his methods are out of line. He's willing to kill people to achieve his goals. But he plays on the insecurities of the hero.”
On casting the compelling villain, Jonathon says: “With Stephen Oliver, I wanted something different for Samson. When you look at such a big, scary guy in a mask and a padded British Army jacket... well, I wanted something a bit different and theatrical, something grandiose in performance.”
Jonathon worked on Ridley Scott's 'Alien Covenant' as an artist, an experience he says helped to shape the production process for 'Zero-Point'.
“It's a different beast, animation and live-action. Really more in realising how to structure [a project] in terms of production, logistic, helping the team break things down.
“I used that knowledge to assist myself and the co-writers to put forward a plan to Screen Australia. Then we got Thomas Street Productions onboard, which along with 'Covenant' really helped get 'Zero-Point' backed,” he says.
'Zero-Point' addresses issues of indigeneity as well as government influence and control. “I've seen a lot of the issues on the ground that remote Indigenous communities face.
“There's still a lot of work that needs to be done by the government in terms of bringing up the status of living to levels of cities and towns in Australia – however, I do understand that it's a very difficult and delicate process.
“The government need to talk to elders for more than a couple of hours to get a better understanding of what's needed in these communities. There's still a long way to go. It's a very big issue, and we all need to work together.”
The entire 'Zero-Point' season zero will be available online at zero-point.tv from Saturday 26 January.