Unleash the Steampunk!

Time for an update on our long-awaited web serial. Things are moving fast now, so I will be posting much more frequently! As a reminder, here is the test scene we shot as a proof of concept – click through to watch the video…

Voidship_overhead



This was a great experience – cast and crew were wonderfully enthusiastic, the CG sets are fantastic, and we’re very happy with the results. Now it’s time to repeat the process on a grander scale to create 8 episodes of about 8 minutes each. It’s comparable to shooting a feature.

The most important news is that the project has a new title. “Winter” has been a great working title, but it doesn’t convey anything about the story. So henceforth the flagship story of the Voidships world will be…

“The Lazarus Machine”.

And we’re going to need more help. We have a KickStarter campaign poised to launch, and a lot of very exciting news to reveal, particularly if you’re a fan of great actors, steampunk music or behind-the-scenes VFX breakdowns. We have all manner of ways to keep track of our progress, and we need you to share our ramblings with anyone who likes steampunk, or independent filmmaking, or science fiction, or good drama:

  • Email! Go to monstrousproductions.com and sign up to the mailing list.
  • Twitter! Follow @Voidships or @adaddinsane or @Qixotl.
  • Google+! Join The Lazarus Machine community.
  • In fact…check out the G+ community right now for our first casting reveal!

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    First Steps to World Domination

    So, it’s been a while. Sometimes I get very busy at work, so not a lot of filmmaking happens. But this weekend writer Steve and I met for a discussion of the Winter project and set some short-term goals, so it feels like things are moving again.

    The chief difficulty with a greenscreen project is that it requires vastly more preproduction than a conventional shoot – although actual production is logistically simpler. Every virtual set needs to be concepted, blocked out, lit and tested in a rough cut beforehand. The actual shoot will be entirely in one room with very careful lighting changes, and focused on helping the actors feel comfortable performing in a green void. I’m inclined to shoot chronologically on this project because the whole story will feel so much more coherent to the cast that way.

    But to get that far, we require the application of considerable artistic talent, for an unreasonable length of time. It’s hard enough to find collaborators who can generously spare a weekend for shooting, let alone weeks of late nights hunched over a computer. The guerilla filmmaking model doesn’t really work for what we’re trying to do.

    Fortunately, it’s not a roadblock – just an uphill struggle. We have a plan for building a pool of committed talent, and as Steve refines the script I’m going to refine the list of assets we require – replacing some full 3D sets with digital mattes, and re-using assets wherever possible.

    Step one is to kick things off with a signature image – our first item of pitch material. This will be our best tool (other than our winning personalities) to attract talent and investment. I’ll let you know how that goes.

    There’s also the small but critical detail of coming up with a name for our alternative steampunk universe, which I suspect will be by far the hardest task…suggestions welcome!

    Planning ahead

    So, here’s my current plans for 2010 – outside work, at least. I’ll post about my TT projects when they’re announced.

    • Write making-of posts for the rest of my films. I’m doing them in chronological order, and the more recent ones are bigger projects and fresher in my memory – which means the posts take much longer to write.

    • Cut a trailer for Monsters to enter in the inaugural Trailer Festival. Ironically, this was our original plan, until I persuaded everyone that the mini-pilot format would be a better use of the budget. The ideal trailer would have more characters, more locations and more VFX, which takes money (and/or big favours). So I’m going to try some experimental editing…

    • “Winter”! This is a brand new script by Steve Turnbull, written specifically as a web serial. It’ll be the most ambitious project I’ve worked on – the biggest new challenges for me are directing action and doing our own publicity. Lots to plan, and we’ll be keeping a production diary too. This is the focus of the year.

    • I’m working on a feature script of my own, which is still an incomplete outline. I’d like to get a few drafts done within the year if I can, mostly to prove to myself that I can write a feature.

    Should be a hectic but rewarding year!

    Joss talks about Horrible business

    I’m a bit slow to repost this, but I didn’t have a blog back in February. Joss Whedon discusses the business model behind Dr. Horrible.

    In a nutshell, it cost $400,000 to make (including cast and writer’s fees, which were deferred) and has at least broken even. Some sites claim it has raked in $2.5m. All Joss says is that iTunes was “a great boon”.