Every once in a while we writers are fortunate to discover a story of determination and passion that inspires us, and reminds us of why we wanted to write about film.
For that reason is to bring experiences and stories such as the one behind the making of Shockwave Darkside 3D to the forefront so that they don’t go untold.
What better way to hear the stories and experience than through the personal reflections of writer-director Jay Weisman and producer Christian Arnold-Beutel and their own creative war that mirrors the last great war raging on the moon in their contribution to a grand genre.
You can read Jay’s
Early 2010 I was approached by my U.S producing partners with a script that felt to me like a sci-fi mix of Paranormal Activity meets Saving Private Ryan set on the moon. It was a rather ambitious project – shooting stereoscopic 3D on a shoestring budget just to prove that not only A-listers can handle the new technology at the time when it was supposed to be the future of cinematic storytelling.
Not even the prospect of fully financing a first time feature directing gig scared me off, and so we closed the transaction within a few weeks, while prepping what was supposed to already premiere at Sundance 2011. I flew from the posh Cannes Film Festival to the film set in a sand pit in Harwich, MA (a.k.a. the Moon), where I found a small platoon of cast and crew pulling off 24/7 schedules – night shoots and all day preps. One thing I remember is the wonderful cast losing their minds squeezed in self-made spacesuits in the freezing cold.
In the ten years that the multi-talented Jay Weisman has been in labor with Shockwave, I’ve produced quite a few feature films, and I have never experienced a more dedicated yet underpaid team. A true labor of love, Shockwave was far from ready in January 2011 to dance on Redford’s indie festival in a US ski-resort. In fact the visual effects production had just begun, and new ideas for how to make this retro sci-fi gem more fascinating were being added by the week.
Months went by, even years of overcoming the challenges of a low budget 3D production. Jay went from storyboarding and rehearsing little action figures in his backyard to micro-managing pixels in every VFX shot created on computers spread all over the world – Minnesota, Massachusetts, Munich and as far as Argentina. On a regular basis PowerPoint presentations were circulating with Jay’s director comments that were longer than the script. I brought in a composer friend Andreas Weidinger, who engineered an extraordinary score recorded with the Babelsberg Symphony Orchestra.
In the meantime I produced a couple of other movies, and I was lucky that Banshee Chapter was invited to play at FrightFest last year, and subsequently went on to travel around the world. Hence I was extremely happy when the awesome Frightfest team invited Shockwave Darkside to world premiere in London, where exciting genre movies are greeted by an equally dedicated audience and industry reps.
The world has dramatically changed since we engaged on this enterprise. Today 3D seems to be exclusive to $150+ million extravaganzas from major studios, while Shockwave Darkside is a distinct experiment which hopefully will be embraced by an audience appreciating that such movies are still around.
Spoiler alert: No superheroes in spandex rescuing the world in this one.