Imaginative genre director Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium, Chappie) has more recently turned his imagination to short films, which his virtual Oats Studio has been producing over the last few years. Doing live director commentaries over these short productions using Twitch, the director on Wednesday discussed Oats’ prolific output and what fans can expect in the future — from both the studio and the director's standalone efforts.
The films in question include the Sigourney Weaver-headlined Rakka, the smarmy CGI God, the Dakota Fanning horror film Zygote, the weapons drama Kapture, and the Vietnam War alt-history Firebase — which is the focus of the stream, as its feature adaptation is currently being crowdfunded. Each of the shorts was followed by a Q&A with Blomkamp, art director Rich Simpson, and VFX supervisor Chris Harvey. This access followed in the tradition of Twitch, allowing viewers in chat to ask the questions of the live-streamers.
Some of the highlights were simple trivia about the short films. For God, the team developed a CGI Serengeti that fans can see in the short, but they also created an unreleased Chicago of the same scale that will likely be released in the future.
Zygote was filmed inside of a Canadian Cold War bunker augmented with '80s sci-fi details — including a CGI monster with 5,000 joints (since it was made out of photoreal arms). These limbs were pulled off of different people (including the modeler's family and most of the people who work at Oats) and melded together into the monster using a renderer called Redshift.
Speaking on Rakka, the filmmakers said it was “shot in about five days” with more than 200 VFX shots. As for the creature design, Blomkamp said, “I’m obsessed with snapping turtles in real life. Look at his jaw, it’s just a snapping turtle with cobra detailing.”
The studio has much more written in the Rakka universe that Blomkamp would like to explore if the short is ever adapted into a feature, including the relationship between the humans, the reptilian race, and the angelic race.
All this, however, depends on the success of the crowdsourced Firebase film (or films, depending on how much the studio raises), which is the first experimental step for the studio into feature production. The details of the fundraising includes special bonuses for backers, including their name in the credits as a backer, three “behind the scenes” updates as the film goes through the production cycle, a private link to the film, and a PDF file composed of all concept art.
Aside from this, the director briefly mentioned two upcoming short films, Bad President and Chuckaroo (which hasn't yet been publicly announced), and teased a new feature from outside his own studio. There’s a project, hopefully coming at the end of the year, that Blomkamp is working on that is “extremely Hollywood-centric” — lest fans fear the only output they'll see from the director will be from Oats. That film remains unannounced and even the news that he has a project developing later this year for a major studio is new, so fans should get excited that Blomkamp is juggling indie and mainstream productions.