Rain Zheng’s Offsprung: a Science Fiction, Action, Social Statement, Comedy, that You Didn’t Know You’d Love…but You Will.
Rain Zheng can be described with many different titles: director, producer, writer, or even the general moniker of filmmaker. The most appropriate title is “creative storyteller.” An eclectic range of award-winning films populate Zheng’s resume. From thriller/horror Esther to social commentary in I Thought the World Had Come to an End to the mind-bending drama Oblivion, she boasts an expressive palate which is wide. There’s no better example of this than her 2017 Sci-Fi film Offsprung. Rain uses the storyline to deliver biting commentary about sex, politics, religion, and a myriad of topics with humor. The ridiculousness of some occurrences in the story as well as that of certain characters is not an all-inclusive comedy but rather one that points out the absurdity of the world at times. For viewers who possess enough self-awareness to recognize this, the enjoyment of Offsprung is layers deep.
Zheng openly admits to striving to be over the top with Offsprung. The film definitely receives high marks in this regard. Rain confesses, “I’m obsessed with ways that can provoke a feeling from the audience. In order to convey the crazy noisy world that keeps us from thinking for ourselves, that keeps us from staying true to ourselves, it’s sometimes necessary to blow things out of proportion. As an artist, you don’t just want the audience to see the mayhem, they must feel the mayhem. I wanted the viewer to feel the over the top performance from James May’s Berry character contrasting Gina Allegory, the strange girl who gave birth to 6 rabbit children’s genuine grounded performance.” Yes, you read the last sentence correctly, “rabbit children.” The story follows the events which transpire when Gina May Allegory immaculately conceives a litter of bunnies. Her parents marry her off to a manipulative politician who plans on exploiting his new wife and her offspring. Gina May quickly gains a celebrity following, but soon society’s infatuation turns to animosity as a hunt commences to terminate the rabbits. With the help of a brave doctor, Gina May fights back against the mass market mob to save herself and her children. While that may read in print like an impossible premise for a film, consider that Offsprung received a bevy of recognition and praise which included: the Silver Remi Award at Worldfest Houston International Film Festival, Gold Award Winner at the Oregon International Film Festival, and inclusion as an Official Selection at The World’s Independent Film Festival, Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival, and the Blow Up International Arthouse Film Fest.
Bringing Offsprung to life required a number of elements most filmmakers find cumbersome. VFX, child actors, animal actors, weapons training, a near impossible filming schedule, and a full cast and crew. Far from repelling her, these facets attracted Zheng to the production. She states, “I wanted to make something big. I wanted a challenge. I wanted a piece of material which I can go absolutely crazy as a director, playing with production design, characters, wardrobe, camera, lights, blocking, music…everything. From a technical standpoint, tackling a large amount of elements is like riding a roller coaster. Controlling the madness is something that’s very appealing to me. The cliché goes, ‘you are not an artist if you don’t go challenge yourself.’ The larger the scale of a production, the more preparation the director has to do. The ability to exercise perfect control like Alfred Hitchcock did has always been my aspiration. The making of Offsprung was incredibly demanding. I could have never made the movie without a huge crew backing me up. If you look at the films end credits, it’s definitely on the longer side.”
Science Fiction films that make a social commentary are nothing new. Logan’s Run (dual Oscar nominee), Avatar (triple Oscar winner) District 9 (nominated for 4 Oscars), and Her (Oscar winner) all vet the idea that the genre is more than acceptable to critics and audiences. In Offsprung, Rain Zheng has added humor as a bit of sugar to help the medicine go down smoothly.