The fluid line between reality and hallucination is the premise behind many sci-fi films from
Videodrome to Total Recall. Dutch post and production house Postpanic and director Mischa Rozema want to add a feature film to that list, and to begin the process they've created a short film to showcase their vision for it.
You can watch the film,
Sundays, and a making-of film above.
Sundays' protagonist is Ben, a corporate non-entity in a near-future world that's technologically advanced but crumbling due to continuing meteor strikes. His boring life becomes desperate and confused as he gets flashes of a relationship that may or may not have happened with a girl called Isabelle - who may have been taken away from him.
Read on to learn more about how this film was created.
The narrative is somewhere between the kind of abstract story most people associate the perfume ads and an extended movie trailer, which is essentially what it is.
"The only thing I want [viewers] to take away is that they want to see more," says Mischa. "I'm basically creating all this mystery and eye candy and laying out this world in front of them without any answers at all - because the answers are going to be needed and shown in the feature film. It's only the first step in a much bigger project, so that’s why it looks and it sounds the way it does."
While some of the compositing isn't up to Hollywood standards,
Sundays is an impressively realised vision of a satisfyingly grimy future world with an existential crisis that draws heavily on the works of Philip K Dick (whose short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale was the source material for Total Recall).
It's especially notable as most of the film was funded by Postpanic itself - with $50,000 raised for the live-action shoot in Mexico city through Kickstarter and software and hardware supplied by tech companies including Adobe, Chaos Group, The Foundry, HP, Wacom and others.
"Kickstarter [is] pretty instant and you can have your budget raised within a month, " says producer Jules Tervoort. "Also, from a practical point of view, there are no strings attached and your production will stay independent which was very important for us."
For Mischa, the most important part of creating
Sundays' visual effects was giving the world an internal logic and overall feel that made it seem real.
Sundays is very much a world-creation project. By creating this world, I have to set certain laws which only myself as the creator of that world can actually decide upon, so basically I have to teach everybody what the do’s and don’t’s of this world [were]. After a while, everybody gets to know your world, but it's still up to you to make sure everything created in post conforms to the world you created.
"I started off with sketches and that is how we communicated - even before we started shooting. So very visually explaining how this world should operate, how it should be and how it should look"
Unlike most big VFX houses, most artists on the projects didn't have fixed roles.
"We don’t really categorise here at PostPanic," says visual FX supervisor and head of post production Ivor Goldberg. "We don’t have people who are strictly ‘the animator', 'the modeler' or 'the texture artist'. The in-house team are ‘the artists’ and I like that - one day they do a matte painting, the next day they are animating, the day after that they are comping, afterwards doing something completely different."