Could Texas be the new spot for filming? Action-packed movie shot in Houston brings Hollywood names

ByDesiree Cantu KTRK logo
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Could Texas be the new hot spot for filming?
A new indie film shot in Houston is making its way to the big screen this summer. Here's what producer Shawn Welling and lead antagonist Andi Saks have to say about Texas possibly being the new vessel for independent filmmaking.

HOUSTON, Texas -- A new action-thriller shot in Houston is making its way to the big screen this summer.

The independent film "Mission From Outer Space 2037" stars an ensemble cast including the late Tom Sizemore, Lee Majors, Tom Vera, Emma Rain Welling, Lexi Arnold, Andi Saks, and Joshua Peri.

ABC13 spoke with the producer, Shawn Welling, and the lead antagonist, Saks, about Texas possibly being the new vessel for independent filmmaking.

"The first step is really realizing a lot's going on. (Filmmakers) don't know about it. A lot of independent films are happening here in Houston, Texas. I think Austin got the buzz and is really creating nice things, but Houston is bigger, and it's got a lot more money to invest in projects like this," Welling said.

So, why Houston for a dystopian society film?

"Diversity. We have the beauty. We have the landscape, and we have willing people who allow us to be on these different individual properties and accept us in a warming way," Welling said.

Besides the ambiance of Houston, having enough landscaping and studio space allows for grander projects like this one- where explosions, car crashes, and aliens will all fit on set.

RELATED: Hollywood in Houston: Top 13 movies filmed in the Bayou City

"Right now, I've directed 13 features and about 30 shorts. Almost all of them had something to do with Texas. Although, we've filmed all the way from California, on the coast, and different parts of the United States," Welling said. "Most of that, in each film, we were here somewhere in Texas doing something great."

For "Mission From Outer Space 2037," Saks said she underwent a lot of physical training to portray her villain character, a strong cyborg Russian nemesis. She's being hunted by a local rough and ready-to-kill Texas town sheriff, played by Joshua Peri, born from a part Cherokee and Viking heritage.

"This being my first feature film and action film, I've learned stunt coordination, and I did my own stunts," Saks said. "Having that adrenaline rush, that honestly is my favorite part about filming this entire movie."

All the action might seem chaotic, but Welling says this is organized chaos.

"This is not CGI. This is real stuff, but done safely," Welling said.

With safety being the number one priority on set, it hits home for Welling, considering his 5-year-old daughter steals the spotlight as a lead in the film.

Emma Rain Welling was about 4 years old during production. Welling said her interest sparked when watching YouTube videos of other children doing similar things.

"I thought, my well, my daughter can do that. And we had so much fun," Welling said. "I think that's the key: The chemistry and connection between father and daughter."

Next thing you know, Hollywood icon Lee Majors, the executive producer and lead actor, encouraged the idea of Emma Rain being more involved in the movie.

"We thought, 'Generations.' Isn't that exciting? Having Lee, then these people in the mid-generation, and our beginner generations, the kids of tomorrow be action heroes," Welling said.

Welling said the child star is shy at home, but as soon as she hears lights, camera, and action, she's a burst of energy.

The action film "Mission From Outer Space 2037" brings along Houston area talent and some big names in the industry, including the late Tom Sizemore. The team had the opportunity to work with him before his death in 2023.

"Tom Sizemore is a character, and I miss him. He's been in three of my films, so he was my friend. The best thing I can say about him is he was a warm, genuine person who we all love," Welling said.

Welling is no stranger to filmmaking, so from his perspective, he says the ultimate indie film, "Godzilla Minus One," takes the cake at this year's Academy Awards.

"My favorite film, way down the list, seems to be one that not many are talking about. It was action, it entertained, and it was independent. Godzilla Minus One. It blew me away," Welling said. "And Godzilla was mean and tough."

Saks said Emma Stone's Oscar-nominated performance in "Poor Things" is one that she draws inspiration from as an actress. She also noted that the costume design in the movie has her vote.

"Mission From Outer Space 2037" hits theaters Memorial Day weekend at Regal Edwards Houston Marq'E. Welling said he's excited to have the film showcase at the newly renovated theater, where his action-packed film will seat 500 viewers.

RELATED: Texas-born filmmaker weighs in on future of the industry ahead of Oscars

March 10 is Oscars Sunday! Watch the 2024 Oscars live on ABC.

Red carpet coverage starts at 1 p.m. ET 10 a.m. PT with "Countdown to Oscars: On The Red Carpet Live." At 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT, live coverage continues with "On The Red Carpet at the Oscars," hosted by George Pennacchio with Roshumba Williams, Leslie Lopez, and Rachel Brown.

Watch all the action on the red carpet live on ABC, streaming live on and on the On The Red Carpet Facebook and YouTube pages.

The 96th Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, begins at 7 p.m. ET 4 p.m. PT, an hour earlier than in past years.

The Oscars are followed by an all-new episode of "Abbott Elementary."