Normally when I come across an interesting short film, I’ll throw it in Extras. We normally don’t do full feature stories on them. But these short films are also normally not as jaw-droppingly good as Leviathan. Created by Ruairi Robinson, an Oscar nominated Irish short film maker and director of last year’s Last Days On Mars (he was also the first director attached to a failed live-action Akira movie), as a proof of concept to pitch to studios for a full length feature film, The Leviathan is an incredible piece of sci-fi about an angry space whale. Yes, space whale. And all I can say about it – paraphrasing a bit from our very own loveable EFF – is that studios need to PAY HIM THE MONEY!
But enough of my stupid words. Make sure you have this video set to highest quality your line can handle, click play and get ready to drool at all the sci-fi awesomeness.
HOLY INTERGALACTIC CETACEANS, BATMAN!
I have no idea what the script for a full length movie based around the hunting of space whales would even be about, but if it looks anything even remotely as good as that, then I need to see it. Especially since that script is apparently being written by the same man who penned the screenplay for Fight Club, as Robinson revealed in an interview with Film School Rejects.
“[Jim Uhis] wrote the script. We’ve both been working on this for quite a while and sharing work in progress back and forth. I’m a massive fan of Fight Club, and it was a huge thrill to work with the guy that wrote that movie.”
I am Jack’s giant flying whale?
As much work as Robinson and Uhis have done on the script though, it probably pales in comparison as to all the effort put in to get the film’s aesthetic just right. In fact, according to Robinson, the effort was rather painful.
“A year of pain. Relentless agonizing pain. 16-hour days with no income and no days off.
I came up with the idea in 2009 and started the ball rolling, worked on it off and on. Then put a pin in it while I worked on other stuff, and came back to it last year to properly push this forward. Weta did some initial concept art for me and Jordu Schell designed an amazing creature. Then I hired a couple of people to build some of the assets for me and do some other technical processes like rigging/cloud/explosion sims etc.
The guts of it was me at a desk putting it all together. Ryan Stafford (who was vfx producer on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) helped me get the mocap stuff done. He’s an awesome and talented guy and did an incredible job on Apes. Also I owe Blur Studios and especially Tim Miller (who is doing Deadpool right now) a big thank you — he was kind enough to let me take a space in his office and use their render farm in downtime, so the second half of making this, I was surrounded by awesome artists whose brains I could pick on some of the more technical aspects.”
Robinson also went on to explain what the game plan is with releasing something like this – which is essentially a pitch to the film studios – on the internet first.
“It’s a big gamble. I think the process of pitching is changing, and showing it to the public first has become a way of getting your toes wet to see if the public responds. If it catches on, it certainly helps. The safer, older route was just to show it privately to buyers, but then if it goes into development and never gets made, you’ve done a load of work that nobody will ever see, and it’s buried forever.
So that’s what I wanted to avoid. I was always keen to have the teaser seen publicly.”
And it has definitely been seen, seemingly set the internet on fire over the last few days and already drawing the attention of several publications. But that’s admittedly due to this short’s bloody impressive presentation. Would there be enough story there for an actual movie, and will people be interested in it?
“[‘Moby Dick in space’ would be a fair logline for the project]. Although the action doesn’t really take place in space. It’s on another world… a Gas Giant, covered in a layer of toxic plasma clouds. I’d categorize it as Jaws plus Wages of Fear multiplied by Alien.
It’s “Moby Dick,” so I don’t think I need to prove that’s a good story! The trick was to find a way to tell the story that feels organic to this new setting and doesn’t feel like it’s a gimmick. It’s a character story first and foremost. Wrapped in big spectacle. The teaser itself just concentrates on world building and design and action. Largely because I was working under fairly severe limitations.”
And just in case you fear that Robinson is actually just good for some flashy visuals and is now just throwing out buzzwords like “organic” and “character” and “story” to sound like he can do more, here’s Blinky, the first short film that really got people’s attention when it was released a couple years ago.
Pretty amazing, right? With that type of grasp of character, coupled with the technical prowess shown off in the Leviathan teaser above, I really hope that the studios give Robinson the financing he needs to bring this to the big screen. Okay, so maybe The Last Days of Mars wasn’t exactly fine cinema, but that starred Liev Schrieber, not a space whale!
Last Updated: March 20, 2015