Join 3,503 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Teaser Trailer to Motion Picture Deal in $300
December 17, 2009 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Fede Alvarez, a Uruguayan filmmaker, posted a short live action/CG video on YouTube back in early November (prev). The short, which features mysterious robots destroying Montevideo and cost approximately $300 to make, received interest from Hollywood days after being online. By the end of November, news spread that Alvarez signed a deal with Ghost House Pictures, reportedly worth $30 million. For now, Alvarez has a six-figure holding deal to wait while Ghost House hires a high-end scribe to turn the idea into a feature. The six-figure deal will be applied against a seven-figure fee if Ghost House makes the film, though Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert are already set up to produce the film. (via)

Fede Alvarez is part of two production groups, Aparato and Murdoc Films. The Aparato site has a demo reel that features more of the production from the company (but it's behind a flash interface, so no direct link), and the Murdoc Films blog features more clips.

Some are comparing this short to Alive in Joburg (video, prev-ious), the short that was adapted to become District 9 (prev-ious).
posted by filthy light thief (45 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pretty cool, but the annoying, too-obvious camera jiggling creates the opposite of the intended effect for me.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:18 AM on December 17, 2009


Neat video, but I can't help but think that if the robots were just going to blow up the city then they would've air dropped a bomb and saved themselves the energy. Unless they were dramatic robots.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:24 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was whelmed.
posted by cell divide at 11:28 AM on December 17, 2009


I guarantee it's complete bullshit that that cost $300 to make.
posted by unSane at 11:30 AM on December 17, 2009


Please don't let "and they have a plan..." be any part of this.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:33 AM on December 17, 2009


Cost $300 to make? Where did that figure come from? It cost $300 if:

- you don't account for the cost of the camera, software, computers or any other capital used to make the film
- you don't pay your actors
- you steal the music
- you don't account for your time writing, directing or producing the film
posted by jimmythefish at 11:35 AM on December 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Some are pointing out that the short is rather lacking in plot (we see mysterious alien robots appear, destroy shit, the end). It seems like Raimi and Co bought access to some nice CG effects and character design, plus the hype around it (as spotted on Kanye's blog, which notes it took 2 guys 6 months to produce). It might have been more of a promotional piece that got reused for a music video. Maybe the band paid them the cost of the video minus $300?

I don't think anyone factors in the cost of the camera, software, and computers when talking about movie costs, as those items get re-used for the next project, but I could be wrong.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:37 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It cost 300 dollars to make because they had already all the equipment, all the software and payed nothing for labor. So yeah, it's complete bullshit.
posted by aspo at 11:37 AM on December 17, 2009


Hey, no one said it was $300 Earth dollars. . . .
posted by tiamat at 11:38 AM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and why the hell is Hollywood paying this guy? Let's see...nobody ever thought of giant robots destroying cities, and they clearly don't have the technical ability to pull that shit off.

I know! Let's look at what Uruguay has to offer. WTF? Are they that lazy? If so, I know what my winter project will be...
posted by jimmythefish at 11:39 AM on December 17, 2009


Great for him, although I've disliked how the news stories on this inflate it with headlines with phrases like "offered a $30 million dollar contract" as if he's being paid $30 million. A possible film version is budgeted out to around $30 million while he's been put under contract to develop a script with a writer. It could be quite lucrative and he could get to make his movie... or an executive could change his mind tomorrow or the script could suck and he'd only get the $100k (maybe more depending on "six figures") to be stuck in development hell for a year.

Still great money, but I'm guessing the money is less important to him than seeing his movie on the big screen. I think the news likes to pump up the "Cinderella story" aspect of these deals, such as Paranormal Activity only costing $15k to make (not counting the rumored $800k to reshoot the ending -- an ending which was the idea of Steven Spielberg-- and do sound design/ editing fixes.) And (on preview) everyone pointing out the hype of it costing "only"$300...
posted by sharkfu at 11:45 AM on December 17, 2009


That short managed to point out how silly it is for giant robots to exist. What's the point of walking through the city to destroy things if you're just going to blow up everything anyway? And why destroy the city, what's the purpose?

It's like the Death Star Trench run, why start that far away from the exhaust port? Just find the damn thing and hit it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:46 AM on December 17, 2009


Giant walking hominid robots are an anachronism anyway. Maybe in the 1930s they were cool/scary and evocative of some kind of zeitgeist that was circumspect of emerging mechanical technology but today they just look dorky.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:48 AM on December 17, 2009


Well, I liked it. But I like crap movies anyway. Especially the ones with giant monsters that wreck cities in them. I plunked down my $7.50 for Cloverfield, I'll probably wind up plunking down $7.50 for whatever crap this turns out to be. I know, I know, people like me are killing the industry, lowest common denominator, real SF isn't about blowing shit up, blah blah blagh.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:50 AM on December 17, 2009


It's like the Death Star Trench run, why start that far away from the exhaust port? Just find the damn thing and hit it.

Because then you wouldn't have a visual metaphor for the process of struggling with one's self and the world and then finally overcoming the limits of the senses (the targeting computers which are extensions of our physical eyes weren't precise enough to score direct hits so Luke switched his off) and attaining to a direct gnostic perception (knowing by the Force exactly when to fire).

But, yeah, those robots are just stupid.

I actually don't like Star Wars but do find quite a bit of significance in the first film.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:52 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


My idea of a giant zombie Big Lebowski attacking Orange County with bacon bombs and jumping sharks with frickin' lasers on their heads is set to be produced by Michael Bay next summer. It cost $0 to think up (if you don't count my billing rate).
posted by jimmythefish at 11:55 AM on December 17, 2009


My idea of a giant zombie Big Lebowski attacking Orange County with bacon bombs and jumping sharks with frickin' lasers on their heads is set to be produced by Michael Bay next summer.

Throw in a San Pedro Bay where all the waves are CGI boobs and then you'll have a film.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:57 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm glad to hear he was discovered. Hollywood is short of directors with the kind of daring it takes to make films where giant robots blow stuff up for no discernable purpose.
posted by bicyclefish at 11:57 AM on December 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


The explosions were purchased from my brother's explosion factory here: Detonation Films!! so at least the guy didn't have to pay for his own gunpowder etc. (/plug)
posted by The otter lady at 11:58 AM on December 17, 2009


That short managed to point out how silly it is for giant robots to exist. What's the point of walking through the city to destroy things if you're just going to blow up everything anyway? And why destroy the city, what's the purpose?

Why travel all that way to dinky planet Earth if you're just going to bomb it from space? You've made the effort, why not strike real fear into the hearts of people? And nothing says "we're here to destroy stuff" like giant robots. (Maybe those TV broadcasts from the 1950s are the first they saw of human fear, and they wanted to make us fear them).

Or, it's a visual metaphor for the mysterious and overwhelming power of the alien unknown, and in the end humankind's ability to overcome that mysterious power with a metric fuckload of explosives (or a well-placed kick to the groin, metaphorically speaking).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:06 PM on December 17, 2009


I don't think anyone factors in the cost of the camera, software, and computers when talking about movie costs, as those items get re-used for the next project, but I could be wrong.

What on earth are you smoking? Those things are all rented at enormous expense. Even the prodcos computers get charged out to the production. Go look at a movie budget.
posted by unSane at 12:07 PM on December 17, 2009


Man, this is even cooler than the guy who posted videos of his Journey cover band and then became the actual lead singer of Journey based on them. What do *I* need to make to get a break like this?!?
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:16 PM on December 17, 2009


It even had a baby carriage rolling down steps.
posted by smackfu at 12:22 PM on December 17, 2009


Because then you wouldn't have a visual metaphor for the process of struggling with one's self and the world and then finally overcoming the limits of the senses (the targeting computers which are extensions of our physical eyes weren't precise enough to score direct hits so Luke switched his off) and attaining to a direct gnostic perception (knowing by the Force exactly when to fire).

It doesn't count if the dead mr. know it all is always whispering in your ear.

Why travel all that way to dinky planet Earth if you're just going to bomb it from space?

Hopefully you're an upcoming galaxy conquer and have a tight schedule for planet conquering that doesn't leave time for the personal invasion. It's about quantity, not quality.

It even had a baby carriage rolling down steps.

Dat shit was deep yo!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:35 PM on December 17, 2009


I don't think anyone factors in the cost of the camera, software, and computers when talking about movie costs, as those items get re-used for the next project, but I could be wrong.

What on earth are you smoking? Those things are all rented at enormous expense. Even the prodcos computers get charged out to the production. Go look at a movie budget.


Thus the "but I could be wrong" tag-on. Since Alvarez works with/for an advert-producing company, they might not work the same way as large budget film productions do, seeing as their brilliance is condensed into 15 to 60 seconds of video. Then again, maybe they do rent everything on a per-project basis.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:37 PM on December 17, 2009


{stepping onto the soapbox}

CGI is the biggest crutch in cinema (in my opinion). Dialogue? Cinematography? Those elements are much more difficult to create. Dialogue must ring true, to a certain level, or it will fall flat. CGI is fake and we know it is fake so, in a strange way, it doesn't ring true and doesn't have to.

I get it. Technically, it is cool that somebody, anybody...could do this. On the other hand...and? Further, I maintain that good CGI should show that air-displacement (from expended energy and falling objects) cause lots of damage. This is never shown, in my opinion, because it runs contrary to the visual myth that has been created, i.e., "how could we show that NOW when wind has never done that kind of damage in the past". It runs contrary to the visual storytelling that has been happening over the past 15 years.

{stepping off the soapbox}

/I feel like an idiot complaining about CGI wind-induced damage.
posted by zerobyproxy at 12:39 PM on December 17, 2009


Further, I maintain that good CGI should show that air-displacement (from expended energy and falling objects) cause lots of damage

Battlestar Galatica did a minor version this, showing the wind and dust kicked up by teleporting (or shifting a ship into warp drive) a mile long space ship when it was falling through the atmosphere. Good times.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:51 PM on December 17, 2009


Why travel all that way to dinky planet Earth if you're just going to bomb it from space?

Hopefully you're an upcoming galaxy conquer and have a tight schedule for planet conquering that doesn't leave time for the personal invasion. It's about quantity, not quality.


That sounds like the sort of galaxy conquering manager who'd deny his peons paid sick leave. It's that sort of management that brought down the Tripods. Seriously, Tom Hanks had nothing on those guys! What has happened to the craft of world dominance? It used to be an art that you could be proud of, now it's a friggin' business.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:57 PM on December 17, 2009


It used to be an art that you could be proud of, now it's a friggin' business.

Word. You remember MacroHard Planet Ravager 5? That was a sweet world destroyer, loaded up fast, worked great on both the Mactoshin Sun Killers and the Personal Core Moon Destroyers. Then the suits got a hold of it and each version since has been garbage.

I got outta the biz after a while, got into handcoding death beams from scratch. Good work, if MacroHard didn't keep fucking around with the standards.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:13 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ari Gold still workin' his magic...
posted by i_cola at 1:15 PM on December 17, 2009


What do you suppose they are referencing with the baby carriage on the steps? The Untouchables, maybe? Does anyone, even film students, still watch Battleship Potemkin?

Good for them, but I wouldn't have offered anyone a job based on that. Certainly not in a post Sky Captain world...
posted by ecurtz at 1:42 PM on December 17, 2009


They ripped that song from 28 Days Later, right? Can you license that for $300?
posted by nicwolff at 1:46 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's like the Death Star Trench run, why start that far away from the exhaust port? Just find the damn thing and hit it.

It's the size of a moon, heavily armed and with a scrambled air defense force between you and the port, and you're complaining they didn't land right on top of it? Well, aren't you just the glass-half-empty person.
posted by Sparx at 2:08 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nah, the scrambled space defense was only activated once the Empire realized the turbo lasers were that effective against the X-Wings (it's in the dialogue). The rebels could have landed on that sucker, saved lives and been home in a couple of parsecs.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:19 PM on December 17, 2009


The music sounded a lot like Godspeed You! Black Emperor's score from 28 Days Later. I wonder if it was, though I don't have it handy to compare.
posted by kaseijin at 2:23 PM on December 17, 2009


It sounded a lot like it because it was.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 2:34 PM on December 17, 2009


I assume by "cost $300" you meant "did not, in any calculable way, cost $300."
posted by odinsdream at 3:03 PM on December 17, 2009


For a project like this, you don't make a "movie budget". You already have some cameras and some renderfarm boxes lying around, and you go, "Hey, let's shoot some stuff. Get your nephew and his toy robots. Your brother can get out of a car and look shocked. We'll throw a pizza party at the city plaza for a crowd shot." Then you push polygons around for three months and render for another three.

Most of that $300 went to the pizza.
posted by scrowdid at 4:44 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


What the hell ever happened with Rustboy? I gather a studio got involved years ago, but it seems like it never got any further than merch.
posted by davebush at 5:12 PM on December 17, 2009


Rustboy sadly seems to have died. The art book he released while it was still in progress is pretty nice, but probably impossible to find at this point. You can check out some of Brian Taylor's more recent stuff at Candykiller.
posted by ecurtz at 6:01 PM on December 17, 2009


When I blow up Michael Steele and his intern army, I will surely be using giant robots of this grade or higher. Just to see the look on his face -
posted by newdaddy at 7:09 PM on December 17, 2009


The clip was mindlessly entertaining enough, but I want my 5 minutes back for reading this thread. I was just wondering if he'd used a gaming engine to do the CGI.
posted by intermod at 7:11 PM on December 17, 2009


I imagine one of the best possible modes for an indie filmmaker to follow this and make it a workable model, specially with a scifi bent, and an eye for a story would be to really dig in and write write all of something, not traditional, maybe 3 characters, tops, find the actors, cost so far, minus'time=0. next, get emotions from actors, (find local colleges find the college drama clubs, posters, etc). let the ppl who do this already with the digitizers deal with designing yr' dino's. and bingo, one indiescifimasterpiece.theatre.
(disclaimer; camera not included.)
posted by infinite intimation at 10:33 PM on December 17, 2009


This story does generally annoy me. I know dozens of people who've created short films that clearly demonstrate much more talent than this (probably not in CGI, but they don't run companies that specialise in motion graphics and VFX). Short films with original ideas, good writing, good directing...

This film, while well made, really demonstates no real skills beyond VFX. If it had landed him a VFX supervisor job at ILM or Weta Digital, that would be fine... But a director role or whatever... WTF? There's no story, and barely any acting.
posted by sycophant at 1:51 AM on December 18, 2009


This story does generally annoy me.

I understand that, and I feel like the news reports are skipping a LOT. Maybe Ghost House is looking to ride the wave of hype (a number of news reports mentioned Kanye's blog post as an important element in the series of events), or maybe Raimi is looking to support interesting unknowns, like District 9 getting produced by Peter Jackson. I wonder if there'll be any proper news stories to come in the following weeks/months, or if it'll all be rehashing "$300 short from Uruguay gets picked up for a $30 million picture deal in Hollywood."
posted by filthy light thief at 9:31 AM on December 18, 2009


« Older Phage Wars 2:...  |  The recession is hitting Ohio'... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments