After months of anticipation, District 9 is finally about to explode into our cinemas.
Yet even a year ago, it was flying so far under the radar that the first thing most people knew about it was a viral poster campaign at Comic-Con 2008.
So how exactly did the low-budget sci-fi blockbuster emerge as one of the better films of the year?
At this year's San Diego event, Total Film got a chance to ask co-writer/director Neil Blomkamp, producer Peter Jackson and star Sharlto Copley just that.
Warning: there are possible (mild) spoilers for anyone who wants to see the movie pure...
1. Some Blomkamp background
While many worked on – and, in the case of producer Peter Jackson – shepherded District 9 to our screens, Neill Blomkamp is unquestionably the man behind the movie.
And in a weird way, Blomkamp owes a lot of his career to his eventual D9 star, Sharlto Copley.
For Copley, six years older than his director, actually put Blomkamp on the road to filmmaking.
''I gave Neill his first job,'' Copley laughs. ''And he's certainly returned the favour.''
Yes, back when the 35-year-old producer/director/writer/actor was just 20, he gave a fresh-faced, 14-year-old Blomkamp a gig in South Africa, creating computer graphics for TV shows.
He would continue to ply his trade in the TV and film worlds – after moving with his family to Canada at the age of 18, he found more work as a visual effects artist, nabbing an Emmy nomination for outstanding VFX at 21.
Shortly thereafter, he got his first job as a music video director and, after proving himself there, started winning work as an advert helmer.
With commissions from the likes of Nike, Citroen (you might recognise his “dancing robot” spot from a year or so before Transformers arrived in cinemas, below), Gatorade and Panasonic in his portfolio, Blomkamp decided to diversify and make his own short films.
Among them were Tempbot (about an office droid whose tenure goes spectacularly wrong) and Alive In Joburg, about which we’ll say more shortly.
It was his work on the shorts and the ads that first drew Peter Jackson’s attention.
The prolific director/producer saw Blomkamp as a rising talent and the perfect man to handle a little project he was overseeing.
A film based on the wildly successful video game franchise Halo…