SDCC Interview with Keith Arem for The Phoenix Incident

Johnny Ketchum here back from San Diego Comic Con 2015, and boy was it a hoot! Amongst many things in the convention center one booth caught my attention, a booth with a scroll that just said the Phoenix Incident. I knew I had an interview later in the weekend with the film’s director but I didn’t know the one booth that really caught my attention would be his own. Booming with sounds from the trailer, and something that has been a mystery to me for years I was pumped to speak to Keith Arem as soon as possible.

Being the kind of nerd I am, UFO sightings, and extraterrestrial beings has always been something that peaked my fancy. Add in an event I tried for years to find info on and you’ve got me hooked. The trailer for the film itself was loud, and right there screaming to me “you’ll get answers”. The events of the Phoenix sighting are some of the most ridiculous of any of them, and I say ridiculous in the fact that not more people were talking about them. An entire city with glowing lights over head, thousands of witnesses, and no one talking, until this year.

When I finally got my chance to talk with Keith I was pumped, I figured I found a man who was just as curious, and way more knowledgable about these events. So here is what we chatted about.

Keith Arem_The Phoenix Incident 1

Johnny Ketchum: Hey Keith great to speak with you, would you mind introducing yourself to our audience and let them know a bit about your film?

Keith Arem: My name is Keith Arem, I’m the Director of The Phoenix Incident. The Movie is coming out in March of 2016 and we’re here at San Diego Comic Con promoting the film.

JK: Can you tell us a little bit more about the movie, and about the Phoenix Lights for anyone who is unaware of the event?

KA: The film deals with the largest UFO military cover up in US history, it’s focused on the phoenix lights which took place in March of 1997. It’s a group of lights that started in the Nevada border came into US airspace and went all the way across the state and ended up disappearing over the mountains south of Phoenix. It was witnessed by 30,000 people, the governor saw it, the vice mayor had a investigation, John McCain started an investigation into the lights and it’s been a very controversial sighting ever since. The military said it was flares that they had released with an uncoordinated effort with another military base, but 30,000 people saw ships over the city. So our film deals with not only the controversy with what happened during that time but we also have exclusive footage that came from the military and from civilian sightings during that time. There were a group of disappearances that took place in the midst of all of this that happened and a big military operation that was covering up the actual incident.

JK: I know a little about the Phoenix lights due to my own intrigue in that kind of stuff, and growing up just right outside downtown San Diego I remember it being something I would research on websites like, so it’s really interesting to me to have a movie like this coming out, talking about these events.

KA: Yeah and that’s the thing, I grew up in Arizona and this was a subject that was very important to me because I knew a lot of people that were involved. I work on a lot of military video games and I had a lot of military access so a lot of reporters and military consultants were providing us with information about it that wasn’t available to the public. so this was an opportunity for me coming out of video games and moving into motion pictures to sort of present some of the actual stuff that actually took place. Although a lot of people think it was a very peaceful event, from the research and information we found was actually  a very scary event that was sort of an inciting event that the government has been covering up for a number of years. This film I think is going to open up a lot of peoples eyes to what happened in March of 1997 and potential other occurrences that happened around the events.

JK: Definitely, it is something I feel that a lot of people don’t know or realize what happened that day. I remember being paranoid out of my mind thinking “why aren’t more people discussing this?”.

KA: And that was the thing we really found is that we got a lot of resistance from the government when we were talking about it, a lot of people wouldn’t come out on camera and say it but we had a lot of military advisers that would give us information and leak material to us without disclosing all their other resources because they were so paranoid about retaliation. So for us we wanted to be able to really bring a lot of this out because a lot of UFO documentaries and other things that deal with occurrences that happen tend to get pushed to the side, and they are not treated as legitimately. So what we wanted to do was bring something as a major motion picture that people could actually understand how significant this cover up was and the events, and what that means for everybody because if there are people covering up a bigger thing whether it’s a war, or whether it’s a invasion or just visitation, we need to know about that. So we’re hoping this film will bring that to people’s attention.

JK: Awesome, I can’t wait to see this film, like I said I’m glad we could sit and talk about this and have a film like this come out and talk about these events in a serious manner as opposed to just assuming 30,000 people are crazy, or just disregard it.

KA: Yeah, exactly, and I think people are ready for it. I think this is a time where people are ready for disclosure now and I think there’s been a lot of stuff in the military and the government and the private sector that people are starting to come forward and you’re seeing senators and governors and mayors and former military officials come forward and saying “I saw something”. We’re hoping this film will be the turning point for a lot of that.

JK: Exactly and with all these documents starting to become more available to people, it is nice to have more exposure of it all, while it’s still weird to me that not all the information is available for this one incident.

KA: Right and what’s interesting about this incident in particular is that year was the largest number of missing persons in the country, the largest number of unexplained cattle deaths, the largest number of suicides, and Hale-Bopp comet was coming through. Then the entire Heavens Gate cult which was based in Phoenix then moved to San Diego that same week, or the week after took their lives to join the UFO’s that were coming while the Hale-Bopp comet was coming through and some of the actual cult members had been in meetings during that time. So there was a lot of overlap with what was happening there and then two of the pilots that were 810 pilots who were involved in that, one of them committed suicide at the end of the month and then that person’s training pilot then died mysteriously the next week. So there was a ton of events that were all pointing to something much bigger going on and then since that time the number of disappearances has increased dramatically from the Phoenix area all the way down to the border. There’s been about over 256 missing persons cases just in Maricopa County but it’s been almost 2 to 3,000 disappearances across the state. Undocumented workers, or other people from across the border that aren’t being accounted for by customs or border patrol agents, so we think that there’s something that’s been going on that’s a little bit darker and it all triggered in March of ’97 so we think there’s something pretty significant here.

Keith Arem_The Phoenix Incident 2

JK: Ah yes, I remember Heavens Gate pretty well, what a strange and interesting time period. This has been awesome and thank you for your time Keith. I cannot wait to see this film and further be enlightened on the Phoenix lights.

KA: Thank you!

You can get more info on the Phoenix Incident at and maybe some other stuff will fancy your curiosity that keep us all wondering what exactly did happen in Phoenix in March of ’97 if you do enough digging.

The Author

Johnny Ketchum

Johnny Ketchum

Writer and content creator from Denver Colorado, mostly knowledgable in the realm of retro video games he also creates music and music mixes.

Previous post

SDCC Interview with Jason Aron for Back In Time

Next post

Ant-Man Movie Review - Small Steps, Big Impact