Saturday, August 27, 2011

and then?

And then we've come to the end of another week.

It's been a pretty busy one for me this week. The TV station I'm working for is launching soon and I've got a whole bunch of titles I need to do for these in-house shows that we're producing.

There's seven of them that need to be done and I've managed to dish out one and a half of them. Half because the one I am currently working on still needs an end frame. We would have gotten through them a lot faster, but the guy I'm working with (My GF's brother) is also working on some branding stuff for the station, so a lot of his time is taken up and divided.

The week started off great though, with me winning a Steam copy of Limbo, compliments of I don't think I've ever won anything online before, and Limbo is a pretty solid win. I played the game to death, and am gonna try to get the "No point in dying" Achievement, which requires you to finish the game in one sitting with no more than 5 deaths :O


Wednesday night was pretty much spent spilling blood on the War Hammer 40k: Space Marine demo. And in the middle of all of this I'm also trying to squeeze in as much time as I can with my girl friend who flies off to Noumea (New Caledonia) next week for the South Pacific Games. She's a Local rep for Badminton and she did awesome with 3 silver medals in the last SPG. Check out an article on her here.

So yesterday her and I grabbed some dinner and shared a nice chill night together, because of her training I hardly get to see her.

I also picked up Borderlands on Steam yesterday for like $10 bucks Fijian... so that's pure win. I woke my friend Kaos up to use his card, and he ended up buying a 4-pack of the game :D

Borderlands: Island of Dr Ned (DLC)

That's gonna kill some time with my GF gone... and it should almost hold me over for Rage which hits in October. I pre-ordered that off my friends card too. (But I applied for a card for myself - so soon I won't have to wake you up Kaos)

We also had an interesting visitor this week. My GF and mum were mucking around in the garden when they stumbled across this little guy.

Phylliidia - or Bini to his friends.

This was pretty cool cause I didn't even know we had these here in Fiji, at least I've never seen one. We gave him room and board for the night, feeding him leaves and stuff, before letting him get back to his adventure in the morning. We also named him Bini cause he really liked eating Bean leaves. We didn't ask him what his real names was because we didn't want to seem nosey.

Aside from that, this week we also had the ever popular Hibiscus Festival (that actually ends today) and our company (FBC) entered a Queen contestant, so our boss had us attend all the events that she took part in. Which I didn't mind too much. I've also been eating down at the festival everyday because it's right near my office. There's a shit load of BBQ stalls there, so it's sort of starved for variety. Most of the time I just come back to the office with a plate full of Pani Puri or idli. But tonight ima get me some BBQ!

Snow cone!

Today at 1pm we have a float march through Suva city, which all the FBC crew will be taking part in. I'm taking my little sister and my niece (along with my brother) down for the march, and Kaos is gonna bring his little girl down... so it's gonna be fun :D

Later on my GF and I are gonna enjoy the last night of the festival, by eating loads of cotton candy and maybe hitting a few rides. (maybe)

I'll be sure to post some pics of it after.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Envy (Short Film)

So my friends and I did another short film this year. Costing F$150 (US$75) and shot over two nights and an afternoon, we made a little sci-fi/ horror film and called it Envy. I did a little Director journal for it that was supposed to go up on one of my friends blogs, but I thought I'd share it with you guys too.

Check out the short below and then have a read :D

Getting into the Kula films this year was an interesting experience. After our effort last year, which was met with so much positive response, as a group we knew we had to do something that would be seen as an immediate step up from Kania Na Yalo Bula.

As we were kicking around ideas for this years short, a number of things swept through my head. I knew I wanted to do something different from our last short, but exactly how different?

At one stage of the production we had actually settled on a script that was very different from what we ended up doing. It was an idea that I have had for a very long time which involved a young rugby star who gets mislead through drugs. This was interesting because even though I am open to watching any good film, such a story would not attract my immediate attention, because of this I thought it would be an interesting direction to take our short this year, it would be something that the audience would not expect after Kania.

This script went as far as gathering actors and even establishing a rough shooting date, but there was a part of me that wasn’t totally convinced by it.

At this time I was attending FNU’s Film and television course, and had learned a number of things that brought a new dimension to the way I saw my work. As artists or creative minds in any form of media, the trick is to always learn and expand on what you know, so I like to think my friends and I had come a long since making Kania, and this needed to be showcased.

It was then that the inspiration for Envy creeped it’s way into my head.

I get ideas in a number of different ways. That’s one reason I like to read a lot and watch as many movies as I can get my hands on. These things seep ideas and concepts into my work in many interesting little ways, and when I got the idea for the script that would be “Envy”, it came to me in a dream.

When I a woke from this dream, there I was at five in the morning, quickly turning on my pc to jot out what would become the first draft of Envy.

I quickly finished it and sent it off to the rest of n00b production guys who got pretty excited about it. Our producer was a bit worried about the actors we had lined up for our previous script, but I convinced him other wise :P

With Envy we had something that fell into my favorite category of Horror, and as an amateur director/ writer I really wanted to explore the genre more. I have always believed that when it comes to creating anything, you should always work around things you know, and things that keep your own personal attention.

Unlike Kania na Yalo Bula though, Envy was different in the sense that it wasn’t as straight forward . I wanted to work in a sense of suspense, and I wanted the audience to guess at what was happening and what might happen, then I tried to do my best to spin things the other way.

This years Kula entries had a run time of 10mins, as opposed to last years 5mins, so this allowed us to inject a little bit more time for the ‘set up.’ The script went through several revisions, most of it involving dialogue, but the core concept was always the same.

When it came to finding actors for the script, it was not my immediate intention to not have the same actors as last time, but because we had some new people who were interested in being part of our work, we ended up with fresh faces.

This I thought worked out very well for us.

This however brings us to one of the biggest problem I think any potential film maker would face locally, and that’s the lack of proper actors to pull from. There were a lot of comments made about the lack of acting skills the cast of Kania had, but you have to remember, these are my friends who are helping me out. They are not professional actors, and I am not even paying them. In fact, these guys actually give me money to make my films. So there’s only a certain level of believable performance I can get out of these guys, and there’s only so many times I can tell them to do a scene over and over again before I call “take.” Especially with Envy when we were working till 3am in the morning for 6 long hours with maybe one or two five minute breaks, with ‘actors’ and crew who paid their own cab fare to be at a certain location to help me out.

This however does not mean that our stars Gabriel Gravel and Michaela Asen didn’t give it their all. As in Kania, the small cast of Envy had to endure hours of fake blood, sweat and tears to get things done, and at times I considered my self very lucky to have friends that would put up with so much to bring my ideas to life.

Someone who brought a lot to Envy would have to be our last minute camera man Damien Light. We had made arrangements for a camera and a camera man, and on the actual day of shooting these plans fell through. At one point I had convinced the crew to shoot the whole thing on a handy-cam. But our Gore-effects man, Michael Jon Light, ever the skeptic, was a little apprehensive about using a handy-cam, so he spent the day hunting down his brother Damien, who only a few hours before shoot confirmed that he could help us out.

It was Damien’s keen eye for film and camera work that resulted in the visual flare of Envy. With his magic hat full of lenses and home made dolly rigs, he captured my ideas almost better than the way they looked in my head. I’m very particular about my shots, and story boarding is something I take very seriously, and working with him was one of the few times where changes were suggested that made me go “Whoa that looks awesome!”

Speaking of story boards, they were really important to Envy because even though we had them for Kania na yalo bula, we shot that pretty much in continuity. But Envy required actors to be in various stages of make up, which meant certain scenes would need to be done first so that our actors could dress up or ‘dirty up’ for other scenes. On the first day of shooting we actually shot the last bit of the short, before moving on to the other bits. Also unlike Kania that was shot in 8 hours on a Saturday, Envy was shot over two nights and a day. The lead actors and I met up during the week to go over their parts, so on the day everyone knew what to do.

We were using my buddy Michael Jon’s house; so on the nights of shooting, we had to let the family finish off with what they were doing before we invaded their home. But they were very kind and welcoming to us, even going as far as staying in the rooms or going over to the neighbors so as to give us space to work.

The second night of shooting involved the “Hatchling” in the basement, which was a lot of fun to shoot. So an afternoon was spent finding materials and dressing up what would be the creatures ‘nest’. Our Hatchling was none other than the star of Kania na yalo Bula, Danielle Whiteside, who stood patiently for about half and hour while we applied make to her. In the end it was a cold, dark and very uncomfortable role, but I think her hard work came out great.

The idea behind the Hatchling was to have something that looks human, but is clearly something else at the same time. Because of our lack of access to advance make-up and what not, we had to work this out in other ways. Eventually I had an idea of something that could be barely made out in the dark. Something slimy and slithery that blends in. For this bit I made some of the crew watch the last scene from Ridley Scott’s Alien. This one bit where the creature is blended into a space crafts wall, hidden amongst the machinery, barely visible until it moves.

In fact Alien would be a massive inspiration for me as far as Envy is concerned, aside from the obvious relation to the “Body snatcher” movies. I am a massive fan of body horror, and I like the idea of things from another world, be it biological, alien or supernatural, that come to destroy us, but they need our bodies to do their dirty work. The concept of something that looks like your best friend, or lover, but is not them is very creepy to me. Though the idea behind Envy has very little in common with Alien, that atmosphere I wanted to create, and the pacing of our short was very much inspired by it.

When it came to putting the film together after the shoot, it became very clear that we had something a lot bigger that our last project. When you sit through a raw cut of Kania, you can tell what’s going on, and you can get some sense and feel of the narrative even without the sounds and music. But watching a very rough draft of Evny, it was evident that solid visuals would not cut it. The suspense that I wanted to put across and the creepiness, relied a lot on sounds and music. Up until the Sunday before the movie was handed into the FAVC, I was still looking for sounds and music beds. Subtle sound queues and sound effects really enhanced the whole project, and once Meli Tuqota’s amazing graphics were added to the bloody mix, the whole thing came together better than I had hoped.

In the end we had something we were all proud of. Shooting out of sequence and applying ideas that involved some tricky shots, relying almost blindly on storyboards to keep things in order, and having faith in the end vision, all paid off for us.

I can only hope that the audience find our short as interesting and exciting to watch, as it was for us to make.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

For the Emperor!@#$

War Hammer 40K: Space Marine Demo - Impressions

So I just ripped through the Space Marine demo that I got off of steam earlier today... and all I can say is


This game is full of pure awesome. Awesome that has been stuffed into a power armor and allowed to spill blood and havoc for your gaming pleasure.

For those that came in late, the War Hammer series of games have been around for a very long time. Originally a table top game with a massive following, I got into it through the fairly resent Dawn of War series of RTS games that my friends and I have burnt so many hours to.

What I love most about the 40k series is how bad ass the good guys are. The Space Marines are just mean machines of massive war and destruction, and after hitting START on the Space Marine demo, you become this Bad Assness.

The game plays with a third person perspective, and right of the bat you're armed with these four bad ass guns and the Space Marines signature ChainSword. And let me just say that these are probably the most satisfying guns I've fired in a game. They fire with the most meaty bang, and when you see the results eradicate the baddies in front of you... it brings tears man, sweet sweet tears of fucken joy.

Couple the shooting with the ultimate bad ass weapon, the chain sword, and you got some mad combos that leave nothing but a bloody mess.

The game sort of feels that it suits a few different play styles, as in you could either shoot your way through it or get up close and personal with the melee. You get to string together hits between bullets and blade, and if you stun the baddies you get to perform a bloody execution that totally punishes your foes before finishing them off. These are such that with a bit of timing, you can slip them in at the end of your combos, and whenever you do, you get a little bit of health back. So if you keep this you can become a perpetual machine of death.

As far as graphics go, they weren't as mind blowing as I was expecting it to be. The little of the world I got to see in the demo was very gritty, but the levels sort of felt a little empty. I felt as though there were just rooms for you to mess up, lacking any other characteristic. But you don't have too much time to ponder about this because the sheer amount of baddies that are on the screen at any given time are just mad. There are moments when everywhere you turn, all you see is something that's trying to kill you.

The Camera gets a bit funky at times when the action gets thick, and you end up having to re-adjust it to see what's happening, this can be sort of frustrating.

Mucking around on line I've seen that Space Marine has been getting a few comparisons to the ever popular Gears of War series, and at times I did think to my self "hey this is just like Gears."

It does have the same "hide and get healed" thing happening ...but at the same time the gameplay in Space Marines seems to be more frantic. For one thing, Space Marines seems to have an approach that screams "A good defense is a good offense." With the lack of any fixed cover system, you often find yourself hurtling guns blazing at the enemy. If you see something that looks like it could be trouble, you either shoot it down, or run up to it and bury your blade into it's face.

And wait till you get you hands on the Jump Pack... that's when shit gets really crazy, and a whole new level of combat options spring up that start from aerial assault :D Nothing beats the rush you get from blasting into the air, and crashing down upon your enemies, scattering them all around you in a bloody mess of bolts and blades.

The only shit thing about the demo is that it's very short :( And as for the overall game... it's a lot of fun to handle. I really wanna play more of it.

If I have any hopes for the final release, it would be that it comes with a decent length single player campaign. O and that they fix the camera and make it a tighter for all the mad action.

Ima hit it again after a quick dinner and than maybe some more before I pass out. If I'm lucky maybe I'll be able to inject so much 40k into my brain that I'll be playing in my sleep.

But yeah... awesome Demo for an awesome game... that I will be definitely pre-ordering next pay.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Off Topic: Bastion

So over the last few weeks I've played Dead Space 2, FEAR3 and Silent Hill: homecoming. I play horror games, it's my thing.

Regardless of story or game genre, if it's mixed in with more than a bit of horror I'll be all over it. But every now and then a game comes a long that taps into some other side of my brain, a side that remembers all the other elements of gaming that I have come to love over the years. A side that doesn't need to be drenched in blood to have a bloody good time...

Well right now that one game is Bastion.

I had been following Bastions development for sometime now, having seen an article/ interview on it a few months back over at Indiegames blog. I didn't know too much about it back then, but I was won over by the games art style and level design. As more and more info started pouring out, Bastion started looking like something I had to play.

So as soon as it released on Steam, I started bugging my friends to let me use their card to get it. Finally my buddy Kaos sent the game to me as a gift yesterday afternoon while I was at work, and then I counted the hours till I got home to play it.

From the moment I pressed start and made a new game, Bastion had me grinning like crazy. Watching trailers and staring at screenshots is one thing, but playing through this masterpiece yourself is something else.

And the world of Bastion is a gem to play through.

In a nutshell, the story revolves around an event called the Calamity that has destroyed the world you knew, literally tearing it into pieces. So you set out to collect these core fragments that are needed to start rebuilding the world. So on your adventure you get to see the world around you come together and take shape around you. Path ways rise up to meet your feet, trees and buildings form as you approach them, and it all looks amazing.

But what really grabbed me by the throat and makes me not wanna stop playing is the games awesome combat system. It's not the hardest one to pick up, but it's very pleasing. The world of Bastion is littered with things that insist on standing in your way, so you have no choice but to dispatch of these things with your awesome arsenal of weapons.

You know how in some games you find items that you sort of tolerate till you get a cooler weapon, well in Bastion every weapon is cool, and are extremely effective. Yes you end up having your favorite weapons (mines the Machete/ Musket combo) but even as I play I'm already thinking about what weapons I wanna try for my next run through. All your weapons are customizable to very specific degrees.

As an example, I like fighting close range. So as far as upgrades for the Musket goes, I chose things that gave it less of a spread, and a faster reload time with a push back. So when shit gets up close I just blast em with my boom stick! I could have just as easily made it spread out further and loose the damage penalty for range combat, but that's not how I roll yo!

The story of Bastion progresses through these floating land masses that become available for you to explore as you find more and more pieces of the core. Some of these areas also serve as a sort of 'proving ground' for weapons, and play like a mini game where you are given tasks that require a specific weapon to accomplish. Once done, you get graded and different upgrades become available to you based on your score. I for one love this sort of thing, and I spent a little bit of time out of the story to do this for my Musket and Machete. (I also did it for the Berserker bow, cause that's another awesome weapon)

You also get these potions, that you equip rather than drink, and as you level up you can equip more and more of em. There are a wide range of them and they do anything from up your health to make you crit harder when at low health. It's just another fun way to further customize your character depending on your play style.

And to top it all off, your entire adventure is narrated by this guy called Rucks, who does a play by play of everything you do. One of my fave moments was when I wanted to try out this riffle, and then swapped it back for the musket, and the narrator mentioned something about how I prefer to stick to my trusty Musket and Machete :P

I do have one quarrel with the game though, and I'm not sure if there's a way around this.

You can only swap out weapons and special moves from these Arsenal shops that are found every now and then around the world and at the hub from which you set out on your missions. You can't just flick a button and then cycle through your inventory. This is cool though, I don't mind this.

But what I hate is finding a weapon while questing and then automatically switching to this weapon, not being able to switch back until finding an Arsenal shop. This happens when you find a new special move too.

Can i get my Blade flurry special back please?

It's cool that I get to try out these new weapons, but now my weapon that I've spent so much time and money on upgrading is sitting back at the shop >_<

This is my only grip with the game, but I can live with it.

Another cool thing is that whenever you want, you can actually up the difficulty of the game and pull more xp and credits while at it. It's not as simple as selecting 'Hard' over 'Normal', instead you visit these shrines that are in the game, and each shrine, depending on the old god it's built for, offers a different challenge to you.

One might make the enemies more aggressive, another will make em hurt you when they die. So this is a fun way to get a little more life out of the game play.

So yeah... Bastion. A great game that you should definitely check out if you're up for grand little adventure. It's the kind of game that's just really really fun to play. It's not as heavy as some of the other titles that are out there, though it does have it's touching moments (I made my way through the Hanging Gardens with a heavy heart), but it's something you can pick up and have an awesome time with.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Movie night!

My girlfriend and I just got back home from an awesome movie night over at my buddy Al's place.

It started off a little sad cause we wanted to watch Tucker and Dale vs Evil but for some reason the DVD player had the sound out of sync, so we decided to skip it and watch this one French flick called À l'intérieur (Inside).

I've been watching a lot of these French horror films recently and I had heard a lot of good things about this particular one.

Although my friends are always keen to jump in front of the camera for my horror shorts, they aren't too mad about horror movies. So whenever I get the chance I like to fry their nerves with some of the films I pick up here and there. I was gonna get them to watch Martyrs, but I've seen it quite a few times, and so has my GF. Then there the option to watch The Woman, but then I decided to go with something that I hadn't seen.

Inside was such a great film.

Some of the plot details were a bit iffy, and a lot of the time we were screaming at the main-girl to do things that were so stupid of her to over-look. But it was all a lot of fun. It wasn't the goriest movie... but it had exploding heads, scissor stabbings and knitting needles being thrust all over the place, which resulted in a lot of screams and uncomfortable laughter from all of us.

I gotta get my hands on more of these kinds of movies. Where the suspense and character building is balanced with awesome amounts of blood and madness.

Speaking of madness... we also watched a fun little Spanish short film called Deus Irae, which I would love to see made into a feature length movie. Check out the trailer below.

I really wanna do another movie night soon, but I want to try and get something that's more of a classic to round up the night. It's a lot of fun being tensed up watching an awesome horror film, but I love ending nights like these with something that we can watch without feeling violated at the end of it.

Like an old Christopher Lee movie, or maybe something with
Jeffrey Combs :P

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...