"We were making a film about the most serious topic in Southern Africa but it was a satirical film," he said. "Obviously, we were afraid. I felt like I was stomping around like some uncoordinated, goofy, first-time filmmaker wrestling with a topic that was now highly, highly serious."
Copley, who has known Blomkamp since the director was 14, says Blomkamp stayed cool while the pressure ratcheted up around him. He channeled that heightened sense of consequence into what appears on the screen in "District 9."
"He flows with things more than anybody I have worked with and gets what he needs out of a situation," Copley said. "It's really something to see. Here's a guy who has an incredible artist head space. And he's following his emotions into it."
Blomkamp said he plans to follow up "District 9" with another sci-fi project he describes as "seriously kick-ass." But also in the offing is another project the writer-director plans to self-finance with whatever revenue he reaps from his feature debut -- a self-preservation measure you could attribute to his hard-learned lessons on "Halo."
"It's really out there. I have to set it up with my own cash," said Blomkamp, grinning at the thought. "It won't take tens of millions of dollars to make it work. I just have to be in control of it so it can be as ridiculous as it needs to be."
Times staff writer Gina McIntyre contributed to this report.