Filmmaker Matt Johnson’s Operation Avalanche is set against the space race between US and the USSR during the Cold War period. The film is about the fake landing of Apollo 11 on the moon. The film was part of Johnson’s Masters project at York University in Canada. Johnson directs, acts and co-wrote the film with Josh Boles.
It took him almost 2 years to make Operation Avalanche, which made its debut at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. At one point Johnson thought he’d become a professor and that is why he went to graduate school he told us.
Johnson and Owen Wilson are Harvard graduates. who are recruited as CIA agents. They are on a mission to uncover a Soviet mole in NASA and they suspect that it might be director Stanley Kubrick. Things take an interesting turn when they find out that America’s ambitious plans to land a man on the moon maybe in deep trouble. The duo come up with a brilliant plan of creating a fake documentary about American astronauts landing in the moon. This is where Johnson and Boles skillfully bring in all the different conspiracy theories about American astronauts landing on the moon. How they create this documentary makes for an intereting watch.
We spoke with Johnson about the making of Operation Avalanche and his penchant for conspiracy theory films. Why did he make the film? How did they shoot footage at NASA and Shepperton Studio, where Stanley Kubrick made his films? Is there a parallel between the way software developers work and the way he works as a filmmaker when it comes to legal precedents? He takes a lot of creative clues from software developers he points out. We talked to him about what is fair use of archival footage? What does he have to say about working with lawyers for your creative projects?
While he does not believe that the American landing on the moon is not fake, it did not preclude him from making a film about it. There do exist conspiracy theories around Apollo 11’s landing on the moon.
LISTEN: MATT JOHNSON ON MAKING OF OPERATION AVALANCHE:
While Johnson believes that the American landing on the moon is not fake, it did not preclude him from making a film about it. There do exist conspiracy theories around Apollo 11’s landing on the moon. It is the secret truths that draws him into conspiracy theories and to film like Oliver Stone’s JFK. He first saw Stone’s JFK as a teen and was instantly drawn to it. It looks like he has not lost an interest in them.