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Posts by Daliya Risik
Dark Engine by Ryan Burton and John Bivens is a new comic that plenty of my friends have been waiting on, and after reading it, I’m reasonably certain that no one has been or will be disappointed. First of all, the cover art is really nifty, portraying the focus of the comic, a girl who looks fierce and incredibly intimidating with a giant sword. I’m certainly not an artist, but I really like the style of art being shown in this comic. It’s very otherworldly, and definitely helps to transport you into the chaos within the story.
From the beginning, this comic throws you into a world that is unlike anything that we are used to. There are a surplus of creatures that somehow fall between prehistoric and alien in appearance. We meet the girl from the cover rather quickly. As expected, she quickly starts slaughtering things, presumably because she’s a total badass. Directly following this, we start to see some other new characters talking about the girl, who we now learn is called: Sym. There is talk of the magic and sacrifice used to create her, and we are informed that she has been made to kill some enemy.
It’s divulged that she was fitted with some sort of engine (I’m assuming a Dark Engine, but that could just be me being presumptuous) by one of the characters. This character seems haunted by this engine, which we find out is being used to send Sym back in time in order for her to kill this enemy before they could ruin the world in the way that they did (which is only being expressed through the art at the moment). We learn that the engine is sending Sym into various periods of time until it can somehow right itself, and we’re given a glimpse into the possibility that the engine might actually think for itself.
The comic ends with plenty of mystery after a character nonchalantly states that Sym will likely kill anything she comes in contact with across these time periods (and we actually see her brutally slaying something). Already, I want to know more about how Sym and how she was created. I’m definitely interested in learning about the inner workings of this engine, and what it is capable of. I also want to know exactly who this enemy is and what he used to destroy the world. Really, I just want to know more about everything, and I’m really hoping that the next one comes with a little insight into this interesting world.
So, uh, read this. It’s a good one.
This week I was given the opportunity to gather some intel from Justin Giddings and Ryan Welsh, the co-writers and co-directors of OUTPOST, a new Sci-Fi film that is in the process of being made right at this very moment (literally, as you’re reading this). These fellows have promised space, love, and — get this — an outpost! Going with the futuristic trend, Justin and Ryan are taking the very modern approach to producing their film by raising the funds through a crowd-funding project set up on IndieGoGo, where they managed to raise ten-thousand dollars in a mere three days. I believe that is internet for “a lot of people believe in these dream and you should, too.”
In fact, to encourage you to donate, these guys have come up with some seriously fancy perks ranging from DVDs, top-secret internet parties, to a coffee and pie date (with both of them, I might add). Really, even if you don’t like Sci-Fi movies, you should donate just to get one of their ridiculously awesome perks.
For more details on OUTPOST and the fundraiser, or to donate: click here.
Now, here’s what these charming lads had to say about their super interesting film-in-progress:
1) If we could, I would like to start with any details that you would like to share with our audience, and an elaboration on the source of all of the passion that you guys are feeling for this project. Is this just a love of SciFi in general, or is this project in particular special to you?
Great question, Daliya! It’s a combination of both, we’d say. For us, science fiction provides a way to step back from anything we currently know and allow our imaginations to set the scene for our characters. It allows us to make our own playground where we can have as many swings and slides as we want. Even the very laws of physics as we currently understand them are able to be set aside in order to tell a story about the human condition. So sci-fi itself definitely gets the creativity pumping, and that’s awesome.But the passion runs deeper for a few reasons. First off, we’re really passionate about the story. When we set out to write this, we were determined to try to write a story that wasn’t based on a cool concept or the VFX, but was built around the intensity of the characters. Gordon and ARIA have such a deep love for each other, but it seems destined to fail and so they desperately try to ignore it – until something dangerous and otherworldly threatens them and they’re forced to face their fears. (Plus, the end is killer. I mean, we literally get misty-eyed when we read through it and we WROTE the darn thing.)Another reason for the passion is very practical; despite having successful careers as actors, it’s a job where 10 people have to say yes before you get to work as a creative artist. Making our own work gives us creative control and to work on such a scale is such a blessing. Add to that being supported by our friends and family and it feels like we are not alone but part of an artistic movement together as we strive to share our creative voice and vision.
While the idea came to us pretty well-formed, films like Moon and The Abyss were a huge part of the stylistic inspiration. The idea of isolation, loneliness, and the danger being off-screen spoke to us because then the story remains a human story. Even with our “Beings” as we’re calling them, the focus has been on what they represent rather than their look or design. At one point, we had a pretty elaborate fight scene, but we soon realized there’s no way we could afford it and, when forced to consider a different path, we eventually landed on something we like more because the conflict doesn’t become about fighting off a big bad alien, but the threat they represent to Citizen Gordon and ARIA’s relationship. Moon is a movie set on the Moon, but it’s not about the moon. The Abyss is a constant looming threat/curiosity, but we watch the people dealing with it, not a bunch of CGI sequences. Another film we love is Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. That movie has beautiful imagery with a planet-ending threat looming over them, but the story is really about whether or not the crew will be able to stick together long enough to save humanity.
We don’t know that we’re creating a wholly new type of love story, just taking a slightly different perspective. Love is a courageous thing to do, especially when it’s not in a conventional way, or in a socially acceptable way – that’s something we wanted to explore with both these characters. The idea of a boy and his robot is a standard sci-fi trope, but it’s always felt like the differences were highlighted. We want to highlight the similarities. We’re also touching on a deeper question of what it means to be alive – the character of ARIA has only recently become fully sentient so her journey is particularly unique.
Passion. From day one we have been passionate about this project and so we’ve attracted other passionate people who turn around and constantly inspire and surprise us. For example, in picking our cinematographer Idan Menin, we have a perfect story to illustrate what we’re talking about. Idan had found our project early on and had begun messaging us early in the process expressing his interest. We liked his reel, but we were months away from any sort of application process. As we got closer to the Indiegogo campaign, we knew we wanted an actual DP to shoot our pitch video, so I reached out to him with the script and a request for help. We set a date for a coffee meeting and when we show up to casually chat about an Indiegogo movie, he pulls out a digital look book and begins to paint an incredible vision of the film as he saw it. He was right on with the images in our heads and incredibly enthusiastic, so when we left, I (Justin) called Ryan and said, “Can we just hire him?” And we did!
It’s shared. If we could magically wave a wand and create the exact movie we have in our heads, it would never be as good as a movie born of the creative collaboration of many talented artists. Every department head and the crew they bring with them are carefully chosen because we know they will have a signature on this film, too. If we had to brag, it would probably be that we are good at finding good people.
We’d love for our audience to leave really contemplating on Gordon’s dilemma – to fight for all of mankind, a mankind that is recognizably flawed and distant, or to fight for the singular thing that makes him a man – love of an individual. Moreover, it’s an individual he’s not supposed to love! Also, there’s some big Easter eggs in the short that hint at a much more complicated and layered story we hope to present in the feature and we’d love those questions to be burning in the audience as well.
The turnout so far has been incredibly encouraging. Despite months of preparation getting to our launch date, you never really know how the public is going to respond so it’s incredibly humbling to see people responding the way they are. We have a quote that has been our mantra of sorts: be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. We know that $60,000 is a lot to raise, but we also know that passion is contagious. So much of what we see in the entertainment industry now is about the bottom line and I think people long for stories that are about more than that. We are boldly placing our film in the hands of the audience instead of the studios and trusting that they will carry us through. When they do, our obligation is then to entertain and inspire THEM instead of meet a bottom line.
Justin: This one is easy: Ender’s Game. I remember being a kid and reading that book and being in awe of the deftness with which that story was told. It manages to achieve exactly what I want to achieve in storytelling. The story of Ender’s Game isn’t about space or aliens or cool technology – it’s about Ender. How does a boy become a man? How do you deal with pressure when you simply have to and there’s no escaping it? What is it like for people to depend on you but they keep you isolated? See, these are all very human and universal problems. It just so happens to be set in space from the perspective of a young boy. In terms of film, Star Wars. I got started in acting doing voice overs as a kid and I would get these checks that no 11 year old should be receiving and I would go blow it all buying Star Wars toys and card games that I would leave in their packages so they would grow in value. I’m a nut.
Ryan: There have been many films over the years that have deeply impacted me and shaped my perception of the genre (The Abyss, Alien, Event Horizon, to name a few) but I think it was watching anime on Saturday mornings as a kid. The Sci-Fi Channel used to air an anime film everySaturday morning at 11AM – I was consistently awed by the worlds created in those films, whether sci-fi or fantasy. Those films did more to inspire imagination and creativity in me than probably anything else to date. Funny thing is, I hardly ever watched anime s I got older, but it created a foundation of appreciation for Science Fiction.
There are certainly pros and cons to the process. As you mentioned, creative control is a HUGE plus, but there is also a lot of uncertainty in the process that can be challenging. Even with Outpost, there are a number of things as it relates to producing the film that we simply cannot move forward on until we know what our working budget is – so that can be a challenge, the unknown as it were. Honestly though, we think it’s a big win for everybody in the end; there just isn’t another way of making films right now that involves and connects you to your audience like crowd funding.
Yes – kind of. Ha! We had an investor who had seen our first film and offered to bank roll our second film. He eventually needed to step out for personal reasons, but during the process it was very educational to see that the moment you bring in a money person, certain expectations have to be met. With that element gone, we are able to be true to our vision. We want to tell a story that means something to us – we can only hope that if we tell it true, in a voice that’s true, that it will mean something to our audience. It is true that it allows us to tell the story without worrying about whether we’re blowing up enough stuff or how long since we’ve had a spot of nudity or a sex scene. Good news is, we still blow up some stuff in Outpost so I think it’ll satisfy that taste, too!
Blowing stuff up, haha! We’re kidding, of course! What excites us beyond the story aspect is the scope and style of the film that we’re going to be able to achieve on a very small budget. We think people will look at this and be blown away by the visuals and style and be even more blown away when we tell them we got away with it for $60k. We’re so excited about how this film is going to look, we’ve started story boarding and working with our DP and VFX Supervisor and believe this film is going to be stunning. The best part is that it’s still in service of the heart of the film, the story of Gordon and Aria. And blowing stuff up…:)
Outpost will satisfy on every level, it will stay with you. Plus, it’s frickin’ badass! Space! Love! Robots! Aliens! Explosions! A little something for everyone.
We can’t make it without you, the reader! When you help us out with a donation or a social media share, you are, in a very real way, becoming a part of this process. That’s not lip-service, that’s a simple statement of fact. So, when you sit back and watch this film, on some level you’ll know it’s there because you willed it so! You can point at a 60 foot screen, turn to your friend and say, “I made that.”
Ryan: [“You cannot pass,” he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.”] Seriously, one of the most badass things ever said.
Justin: I’ve got two choices: “Do or do not, there is no try.” and my second one is similar to Ryan’s: “Sir Ian Sir Ian Sir Ian ACTION Wizard You shall not pass CUT Sir Ian Sir Ian Sir Ian.
Aaaand, that’s a wrap.
Every fandom member has had this happen. Suddenly you’ve run out of words on the last page, or the screen goes black and the credits begin to roll. He’s dead. Or maybe that other character that you finally learned to like was just kidnapped by that really bad person. Heck, maybe Billy just fell down the well again. It doesn’t matter. As you realize that there is no more fandom input for your desperate brain to consume for at least another year, your insides feel like they’ve been hollowed out, your gaze is devoid of anything even remotely resembling humanity, and eight hours later you find yourself crawling out from under the covers with less finesse than a one-legged zombie. Your life feels like it’s over. You can’t possibly wait to know what happens next. Your characters are in peril now. Driving to work, you imagine a thousand different conclusions to the ruthless cliffhanger that the fandom writers left you with. Your heart is twisting in your chest, your brain has turned to mush as it tries to find logical conclusions for the lives of those in your fictional universe, and then you make it to work or school and everyone is walking around like nothing even happened. This post will tell you how to react to the real world after something catastrophic has happened in your fandom.
STEP ONE: LOOKING LIKE YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE
So, you’ve made it to the desk. That’s good. You can’t be certain that it’s your desk because your eyes are probably filled with a solid liter of unshed tears, or maybe you’ve just put your basic navigation skills on pause because your brain needs to devote the entirety of its intellectual capacity to determining every possible outcome for your beloved characters (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, anyone?), but that doesn’t really matter right now. You managed to make it to the right building (hopefully), and now you’re sitting at a desk looking like you know what you’re doing. This is key. People like to trust in what they see. If they see you sitting at a desk, they will think, “oh, they are working.” If they see you sitting at a desk with blank, soulless eyes, they will think, “oh, they are working hard.” Just keep this up. Replay every scene from the previous night over and over again in your mind, like a poorly pirated DVD titled “I’ll never be happy again.”
Note: Looking as if all of your hopes and dreams have been smashed to pieces is another successful approach. In fact, this might even get you invited out by the people who don’t know you well enough to know that “out” for you is actually a stealth mission involving pajamas and a late-night emergency pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
STEP TWO: LOOKING LIKE YOU’RE DOING THE RIGHT THING
It’s been about an hour now, and while you have mentally visited every detail of the episode multiple times, you haven’t actually moved. People are starting to stare. Then again, maybe you’re just being paranoid. Even if last night’s show ending did feel a bit like a personal attack against you by the writers. Either way, you’ve got to do something and make it look productive. Your best bet is to start typing away on the computer. No one ever questions the work ethic of someone in a typing frenzy. The important part is consistency. The more you type, the harder you’ll appear to be working. The hardest part is that you’ll have to move despite the fact that you feel more fragile than one of those burnt sheep left behind by one of Dany’s dragons. The good news is that moving is really all that you have to do to look productive. So, start typing. You can type anything. Why not write out every last detail that you can remember from the beginning of the series until now and begin rating them on the likelihood that they’ll help you figure out what the writers are going to do with your characters before they even write the rest of it? Better yet, why not write a letter riddled with vitriol to those evil, soul-eating writers detailing everything that they’ve ever done to bring misery to your life? You’ve got almost seven hours of work left. You could get in at least twenty pages by then, right? Besides, it’s not like your boss ever actually asks for a finished product on whatever day it is.
STEP THREE: WHAT TO DO IF YOUR BOSS ASKS FOR A FINISHED PRODUCT
So, your boss walks up and asks if you’ve completed that really important sample-paper-product-thingy that he asked you to finish the day before. You know, before it happened. Your first thought is that you can’t believe how insensitive he is. And, you’re right. He clearly doesn’t care that you were up all night clutching a pillow and pleading with an empty room to just spare this one character. This is the moment where you need to realize that a complete lack of empathy is actually a prerequisite for most management positions, and act accordingly. It’s time to soothe the human-hating beast so you can avoid anyone realizing that you’ve been rendered incapable of carrying out work tasks by what the non-believers call “fiction.” The safest approach is to make it seem like you’re horribly afraid of letting them down. Using phrases like “I just want this to be perfect for you” or “I want to make sure that it’s up to your standards” will calm the dreaded management figure by making them feel important and like they deserve the best. This will buy you more time to come to terms with the trauma that you’ve suffered. It might also get you a raise.
STEP FOUR: COMMUNICATING WITH HUMANS THAT ARE NOT IN A CURRENT STATE OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
Some irrelevant, non-character figure walks up and says some sort of greeting in a language that is distinctly not I-couldn’t-sleep-last-night-because-feels. It’s probably english. But, like, the kind that isn’t tainted with misery and sorrow. So, what do you do? First, go for the nod. A casual, I’m-not-falling-apart nod. Then, redirect the conversation immediately by asking them some random question that has to do with their thoughts or life. After they begin droning on about their kids or hobbies like the selfish, non-fandom members that they are, occasionally nod and murmur “uh huh” until they finish their coffee and walk away. Following this, promptly give yourself five solid minutes of mourning time dedicated to your characters. It’s important for them to feel your support right now. You just have to make it through this one little day, and you can get back to them. It’s one day of work. You’ve had many of them. You can do it. It’ll be easy, right? You won’t give up. You’re a survivor.
STEP FIVE: GIVING UP ON REAL LIFE BECAUSE YOUR FANDOM NEEDS YOU
You’ve made it to lunch, but the pain won’t stop. And, really, how could it? As the fog of shock fades and the reality of what happened begins to set in, you’re actually feeling worse. Pretending that you’re a member of the real world just isn’t working. Your characters are hurting. You’re hurting. You need to go home and binge-watch every episode ever made to remind yourself of happier times. Immediately. The timing is right. You just need to carry that tuna fish and jelly sandwich (don’t judge yourself for the error in food preparation, you were still in shock then) to the bathroom, produce your best imitation of a wounded, middle-aged man that’s been forced to watch reality TV all day, and throw it in. For added effect, rub some water on your face and walk out letting every inch of your fandom pain show. The non-believers will misinterpret this as food poisoning. Once this happens, mumble something about needing to go home, and then make your exit. The second you pass through the office doors, run home. Run like you have red hair and the king just died, very publicly, from poisoning. There is nothing else right now. There is only fandom. You can feel guilty about it later.