The Objective is a 2008 low-budget sci-fi horror directed by Daniel Myrick, who is perhaps best known for co-helming the influential found-footage horror The Blair Witch Project (1999). The Objective follows a team of US Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan led by tight-lipped CIA operative Benjamin Keynes (Jonas Ball); their mission: to locate an important Afghan cleric. Further details are classified Top Secret and known only to Keynes. As their mission unfolds it becomes terrifyingly apparent to all involved that otherworldly forces are at play in the harsh Afghan wilderness. The film grows increasingly surreal as it progresses, incorporating UFO conspiracy theory, esoteric symbolism, and even the Vimanas of Vedic literature and Ancient Astronaut lore. If you’ve not seen the movie, check it out. In the meantime, here’s a short Q&A I conducted with director Daniel Myrick about the interplay between UFOs and Hollywood...
RG: The Objective seems to have been influenced by the UFOlogical theory of 'Ancient Astronauts', specifically in its references to Vimanas. What served as your primary inspiration for writing and directing this movie?
DM: I grew up with watching The Case of the Ancient Astronauts, as well as the series In Search Of Ancient Astronauts. Both had big influences on my imagination and world view about earth and the cosmos.
RG: Wesley Clark Jr. – son of General Wesley Clark – is credited as a co-writer on the movie. What role did Clark Jr. play in the scriptwriting process, and what attracted him to the project?
DM: He provided me with an initial first draft based on my story outline. From there I revised and eventually produced the shooting version you see in the film. My understanding is that Wesley liked the premise and the fact it was dealing with Special Forces operations.
RG: Assuming that intelligent extraterrestrial life exists in the universe, do you consider it likely that we will make contact with it any time soon?
DM: One can hope. It’s impossible to tell if and when that will be, but I would love for it to happen during my lifeftime.
RG: Is the potential existence of ET life a cause for fear or for hope?
DM: A little of both, depending on your outlook. Personally, I view this kind of discovery analogous to a man on the deserted island suddenly finding out he's not alone.
RG: To what extent do Hollywood UFO/alien-themed movies and TV shows influence popular expectations of potential alien life?
DM: Quite a bit. My first real experience was with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. For me that film was the quintessential, contemporary 'Alien film' that took the unorthodox step of portraying extraterrestrials as friends rather than foes.
RG: Do Hollywood's UFO movies fictionalize the UFO phenomenon in the public mind, actualize it, or both? Indeed, do you believe in the objective existence of a ‘UFO phenomenon’ at all?
DM: Well, there is a "phenomenon" to be sure. Exactly what is the root cause is more open to speculation. Scientifically, I find it hard to imagine that a race of beings with the capability of space travel over such distances would come all this way only to leave blurry remnants of themselves for us mere mortals to argue over in the ensuing years after their departure. More likely we'll be making contact via radio telescope or some other technology that has yet to be invented.
RG: Does Hollywood fuel the UFO mythos, or vice versa?
DM: Both. Art and life influence each other. It has always been a symbiotic, cultural relationship… for better or worse.
RG: If and when humanity makes full and open contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, would we, as cinemagoers, be able to divorce Hollywood’s ET depictions from the ET reality with which we are presented?
DM: We would have to. I imagine that if and when that day comes any preconceptions we may have with regard to alien characteristics will be blown away.
RG: Films depicting benevolent extraterrestrials – such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., and Avatar – have enjoyed enormous success at the international box-office. Despite this, Hollywood prefers to explore the negative impact of human/alien contact. Why is this so? Would you like to see more ‘friendly alien’ movies out of Hollywood?
DM: America, in particular, loves its 'bad guys'. It gives us a way to focus our fears and exercise our need to conquer things. However, it always seems to go in cycles in Hollywood; always driven by the almighty box office, so I won't be surprised to see another ET come along pretty soon.
RG: Thank you so much for your time and insights.
DM: Glad to help out.
Trailer: The Objective (2008)...