Brady Dial is the Austin-based producer of the inspiring documentary Man on a Mission. Emilia Duno, a senior at Lamar High School in the International Baccalaureate Film Program, chatted with Dial about the movie, his opinions on private space travel, and the Houston film scene.
How did you first hear about Richard Garriott and his self-financed space adventure?
BD: Mike [Woolf, the director] and I had known Richard for a while and were following his story with interest. Then we both happened to run into him at a wedding reception and asked the same question, more or less: "Who's filming this crazy caper?!" And Richard was gracious enough to eventually say, "Looks like you guys are!"
What is your personal opinion on privatized space travel? If given the opportunity, would you do it?
BD: All of man's successful explorations were built on this rule: survive, then thrive. NASA and governments worldwide bravely proved the "survive" part and footed the bill for scientific research no private company could have matched. Now the commercial sector will see if we can thrive. Can manned spaceflight be profitable? Nothing will take us to the stars faster than new commercial resources. I'd absolutely give it a go—it is man's greatest adventure, bar none.
Were there any unexpected challenges you encountered while filming Man on a Mission?
BD: The biggest challenge was the unpredictable nature of Richard's return to Earth. The previous two Soyuz capsules landed off course due to the same malfunction. Richard's capsule had supposedly been repaired in orbit, but the "test drive" to confirm that fix would literally be during the blazing re-entry! Not knowing for sure where—or how—the adventure would end was a nail-biter to the last.
In the film, Richard describes how one of his greatest inspirations was his father, NASA astronaut Owen K. Garriott. Who inspires you?
BD: One of the great benefits of documentary filmmaking is the ability to choose subjects that inspire you personally. I wanted to make this film because I believe in Richard's vision of a bright future for humanity in space. Truly dedicated individuals are rare and uplifting. I'm hoping to focus my next project on Tim League and the Alamo Drafthouse because I'm inspired by their unwavering commitment to a great cinematic experience.
Speaking of the cinematic experience, what is your opinion of the Houston film scene?
BD: While a location consultant for the state, I worked with Rick Ferguson and Alfred Cervantes at the Houston Film Commission for many years. On the subject of dedicated individuals, those two have worked hard to make Houston a fantastic place to shoot a film. Crew and locations have always been top-notch, and an overall healthy arts scene definitely helps filmmakers find the resources to express themselves creatively. I look forward to seeing the next projects that spring to life here!
The MFAH presents Man on a Mission at 7 p.m. Saturday, October 20. Click here to watch the trailer and order your tickets.