40 Days In The Desert-The Making of The Post-Apocalyptic Movie: The 9th Raider.

Space Blue
10 min readAug 4, 2022

Surreal locations: The director’s vision pushed him to the limits to seek out some of the most far-reaching locations from shooting in California's scorching Mojave Desert to abandoned mines and abandoned train tracks left to fade into the dusty desert winds. Far removed from old desert roads, reputed to be used by drug smugglers way off the beaten path- would be the same roads to shoot this real-life tale of harrowing survival in the post-apocalyptic story; The 9th Raider. Director Dallas Santana’s passion was fueled by the desire to create the dystopian future apocalyptic world set in the year 2037 A.D. needed for movie and NFT art projects for The 9th Raider. The film and story he created is the not-too-far-fetched imaginary story of humanity’s survival in the year 2037 following a global nuclear holocaust and breakdown of civilization leaving lawless gangs that roam the earth. To create this imaginary post-apocalyptic world, the director studied a combination of off-earth Martian landscapes, as well as actual nuclear detonations that occurred in places like Hiroshima and California’s own Martian rover landing and nuclear test sites. The crew and cast even shot on location at the famed original “Star Wars” spaceship crash site at Glamis, a set of rare sand dunes stretching over 40 miles along the USA-Mexican border where temperatures can get over 130 degrees. Along their journey, the cast and crew would encounter real survivors who had moved out of eroding urban metropolia and cities and were living off the land in abandoned trailers and cars, in places like the Salton Sea and Salvation Mountain.

Glamis is the site of the Star Wars spaceship “Crash” in the first movie and the site of The 9th Raider survival scenes.

Days 1 to 10: The very first shoot was one of the most treacherous when the hand-picked elite but skeleton cast and crew hiked in scorching heat with a camera crew and hand-picked physically and mentally strong cast which would have to venture out at 5 am for miles to an impossibly difficult location called Goat Trestle Canyon near the Mexican- USA Border.

“We carried knives concerned we may run into backtrail drug smugglers or human traffickers. There was not even cell phone reception in some of the locations we went to that no movie had ever filmed at before. Immediately hopping on the trail we ran into a giant California rattlesnake over 6 feet long clinging to the railroad track in a hard-to-see position. On the second day of shooting, we nearly ran out of water, with temperatures over 100 degrees, we had to send a crew member back for miles carrying back on his back fresh water to a thirsty and exhausted cast and crew. I hired Mexican farmers to be our crew on that particular grueling shoot, they were used to the sort of harsh conditions that many Hollywood crews were not up for. I analyzed the personalities and willingness of cast and crew to take on such an extreme challenges and came up with exactly who was meant to be in these back country shoots. That was probably one of the most thrilling but exhausting days I have ever filmed, we easily did over 40 sets ups of the camera that day getting in incredible shots on location.-Said Dallas Santana, The Director of The 9th Raider”. The 2nd Unit Cinematographer brought in to film this harsh shoot was none other than female filmmaker Ximena Davis, a USC Film program budding director who Dallas had met years before on a movie shoot in New Orleans. “ I had never done so many takes and camera set ups, in such extreme conditions, but when the shoot ended after the first 3 days of hellish heat, it felt like a major accomplishment, we had gotten gritty shots like no other film dared to get to in filmmaking history” said Ximena. The location was virtually impossible for a crew to access, there was no vehicle access, no helicopters could access this area, and lots of dangers, the stretch of forbidden and abadoned lands ,is ranked by extreme hikers as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. “So we hiked in at 5am and had to make sure wrapped up in time in order to hike out the same day before the deadly heat got to us. One mistake and we could have been stuck out there, a very dangerous predicament in the abandoned Goat Tresle area”-Said the director.



“ Knowing we would face heat, rattlesnakes, and remote locations where heavy equipment and heavy cameras could not be practical, I knew I had to reach out to and bring on board a cinematographer I had worked with who was for the challenge.- said Dalla Santana-Director.”

Days 11 to 33: The Good, Bad and Ugly.

Dallas interviewed some of the top cinematographers in the film industry including one who worked on Fast and Furious and The Mad Max movie franchise and didn’t sugarcoat the harsh conditions, especially the very first few days of filming where all gear had to be hiked in on foot for miles in 100-degree heat out onto the highest wooden railroad in the world, but none of them showed up for the shoot but strongly advised the film be done on a much more flexible lightweight 4k UHD ( ultra-high definition) camera and 4k UHD drone package. Like the famed explorer Earnest Shakelton, whose crew endured two years at the south pole to make history, Dallas knew by bluntly explaining the treachery and difficulty as Shakelton did years before, that this would attract exactly the perfect cast and crew for a movie genre about of all things…survival. Dallas remembered a cinematographer he had worked on dangerous action sports shoots years before and gave him a call. Dallas had met Isauro Mercado, a cinematographer on a TV series for CBS in 2011, which Dallas was directing, and immediately began to mentor the young camera operator.

Day 11: Former Disney and Nickelodeon star Daniel Curtis Lee came out to the desert to find the “promised land” in the epic portrayal of the character “Petro”

The two have enjoyed working together ever since, on many challenging and dangerous shooting projects together including live high-speed shoots where Isauro was filming live action while in vehicles traveling as fast as 160 miles per hour shooting motorsports rallies; The Bull Run, and The Gumball Rally for MTV and Speed Channel. “He never complained on those dangerous shoots, I knew he was the one I wanted to bring along for this adventure”. The two have collaborated together as well on numerous projects taking Isauro from Europe to shoot a docuseries for Dallas’s company for Bloomberg TV and Fox Business.

I was looking to create a look and feel of movies like “The Good, Bad and Ulgy” meets “The Martian” with its lonely desolation and the sprawling deserts of Mad Max and gritty look of apocalyptic stories like The Book of Eli”. I studied many times and came up with our unique look based on what was available. I spent hundreds of hours researching off-the-beaten-path locations for the movie.

Filming at the Salton Sea. A Real living Post Apocalyptic World.

By the 11th day, the director, cast, and crew had set up filming in an area known as the Salton Sea, a legendary setting that has been used in video game scenes such as” Grand Theft Auto” and the hit movie about venturing out and finding your true self in “Into The Wild”. Here the director discovered one of the most memorable filming locations with art installations, a true sense of freedom, and a tiny community of real-life survivors who set up camp at places like the abandoned military base known as Slab City.

DAY 11: The first day that the character “Frenchie” was born on a location near the Mojave desert.
The images captured in the desert at locations like “Salvation Mountain” became also the influence for paintings done by collaborating NFT artists.

Behind the Scenes :

Day 17: Actor Richard Ryan ( Right) prepared for the movie months ahead of time running in hot conditions and was up for the grueling challenges.
The location of this remote cave was discovered on google earth by the director in the evening at 3 am while he was doing one of his many google 3D scans to discover overlooked locations. He and the crew then drove for over 5 hours to get to this cave location for filming.
Day 26: The Burrio Schmidt Tunnel -The Longest Man-Made Tunnel in California, over 1.5 miles long was the site for the AI “Sensai” scene, where the character “Frenchie” discovers a secret AI technology left behind in The 9th Raider.

Days 33 to 40

One of the biggest challenges for the shoot was the rapidly evolving Covid-19 Crisis compounded by killer heat waves fueled by Global Warming. The whole country and the whole world for that matter experienced record-breaking dangerous heat waves that cost the lives of many around the world. This heat wave came up in the summer of 2022 and complicated things with attempting to get in the last 7 days to wrap the picture, and the cast and crew would have to wait it out for months until finally, a few days dipped below the mid-nineties. The extremes were a real immersive experience and a taste of what might come to our world even worse in the year 2037.” I hope we captured that feeling and survival story for the film, we lived it” -[Director Dallas Santana].

Solidly Supported by the NFT and Crypto Community During The Making of This Post-Apocalyptic Movie.

About the cutting-edge project: The story is set in the post-apocalyptic time period of 2037. Surviving Humans scavenge for resources in a hostile world. 8th Raiders have scorched the earth and “The 9th Raider“ ”is yet to come. Legends tell of the Hopi Indian Prophecy being an omen for the final survival of the human population. Hope comes when a survivor discovers a crypto network that left behind a digital-powered ark to save humanity.


While Covid 19 “lockdown“ flipped Hollywood Upside Down, the crypto/NFT pioneers who had spent 5 years in crypto, took their film team fueled by skyrocketing Ethereum and love for NFT innovation and traveled and escaped the chaos of Hollywood to film in off the beaten trail locations far removed out in the desert.

NFT‘s include 3 physically bound original printed signed screenplays with ! NFT Each

Trailer Online and Website: Click Here

NFT Information site: Click Here

Collaborating Artists: Rob Prior-Physical Painting ( paintings include original authorized Stan Lee paintings, celebrities, and music stars and is a well-known comic artist, as well as a prolific filmmaker). Billboard-winning Producer Andrew Lane (“High School Musical 3”), 2X Grammy-winning producers Eddie Mandel and Marlow Rossow, AdventFX.com, and social media stars with over 200 million combined reach.

Sneak Peek of the NFT Collection

Directed by: Filmmaker and NFT/Crypto Maverick/Pioneer Dallas Santana

Studios: M Digital Studios, Inc.

Social Media Clout Attached: Over 200 million fans are attached to music artists and cameo roles. The first marketing campaign to announce only the project reached over 200 million and created 12 million engagements.

Shooting days: 40

Cryptocurrency/NFT partnerships: Ark.io, Guardianlink, io, Metaverse partners Landian.io, Originprotocol.com, Crypto.com. BQTX.io. AIP ( South Korea), KBH ( South Korea), AMF ( South Korea), USA-based Airwire.io, and more.

NFT Rights Managed by: NFT Blue

Releasing Strategy: NFT collectors will get to purchase NFT collections starting in 2022, view and experience the movie and attend VIP experiences, and trade super rare NFT collections first and foremost.



Space Blue

Space Blue is the intersection of space, arts, music culture. It oversees the curation of digital time capsule going to the moon ( NASA-IM1-Lunaprise Payload)