After seeing OPERATION AVALANCHE, a whipsmart found-footage faux-documentary about how we didn’t land on the moon in 1969, it came as no surprise that its director/co-star/co-writer Matt Johnson and producer Matt Miller were so erudite and so witty.
When we spoke on September 19, 2016, my first question was about why we love conspiracy theories so much, even those we don’t necessarily believe in them. From there, we discussed the magic of being able to film in NASA headquarters, and the reasons said agency would never keep anything juicy from us, if only because it’s so trapped for cash these days. They were also kind enough to humor my reading a metaphor for the 1960s into the way their film progresses from light-hearted adventure to dark suspense.
We finished up with how they were able to succeed in having Stanley Kubrick appear in their film despite the misgivings of that filmmaker’s estate.
OPERATION AVALANCHE is a story of ambition, idealism, and the shadowy hands that actually wield power. Johnson stars as Matt Johnson, an Ivy League kid recruited by the CIA in the early 1960s to discover the truth about things like whether or not Stanley Kubrick is a spy, and the identity of a Soviet Mole in NASA. Eager to prove his mettle, and rise in The Company, Johnson parlays some startling news about America’s readiness to beat the Russians to the moon into a wild plot to fake the moon landing. A plot that involves not just Kubrick, unwittingly, but also purveyors of sand and a lead weight hidden in a feather. The film co-stars Owen Williams, Josh Boles, Jared Raab, Andrew Appelle, Krista Madison, a bevy of actual NASA employees and Tom Bolton as Zapruder. Miller produced the film, while Johnson directed from a script he co-wrote with Boles. His previous work includes THE DIRTIES and HOW HEAVY THIS HAMMER