"...Do not fear the Architect..."
A few years back, two extremely talented and incredibly considerate ILM employees from the digital world, Tom Martinek and Colin Campbell, instituted several ideas to instill some creativity and moral boosting into the drudgery of day to day digital effects production. One idea was to create a film festival, but unlike any other.
Inspired by their love of an old magazine for budding special effects artists called "Cinemagic", they created the "ILM Backyard Film Contest". The rules were simple: Make a short film without any digital effects. It would be as if you and your friends were making a film with a Super 8-film camera in your backyard, using whatever resources you could drum up. Your only limitation was your creativity... and a $50 spending cap. The only effects allowed were those done in camera. One concession was to shoot and edit digitally, since Super 8 film and cameras were hard to come by. The first Festival, held in April 2004, had a theme - The Aliens Attack - and everyone had to include that in his or her story lines.
At the model shop, we felt especially at ease with this challenge, seeing that we specialized in non-digital effects anyway. It also helped that we had an entire physical effects film studio as our “backyard”. Nelson Hall came up with a great idea, and through the teamwork of him, Preston Donavan, Grant Imahara, Fon Davis, Carol Bauman and myself, we fleshed it out further, taking advantage of the situations and personalities we'd known over the years.
There are many inside jokes within the film that would be lost on the general public; Robbie Edwards and Dave Murphy, two of our British born colleagues, play "Al" & "Ian", the aliens - a double entendre, since they're real alien residents (you''ll also recognize Robbie as R2-D2's brother from R2-D2: Beneath the Dome); Lorne Peterson, who for years has been our Guru to whom we could go to draw upon his vast knowledge and experience, was a natural to play our "Gandalf/Obi-Wan" mentor figure; locations discussed, such as Circuit City and "D" Building; and Danny Wagner, our resident high strung personality-though he's not as anxious in real life.
There are a few references to film making terms, not to mention a few films we ripped off--err, paid homage to... Keep an eye out for two Mythbusters cast members - Grant Imahara will be easy to see, but I don't think you'll be able to spot Tory Belleci.
At the BFC Awards, the judges were Chris Gore from Film Threat and Daniel Handler, the author of the Lemony Snicket book series. They nominated our film for Best Picture and Best Visual Effects, and it won the latter. As a matter of fact, the festival gave out three awards: Best Picture, Best Visual Effects, and Best Interpretation of Theme. Out of 17 entries, only four films were consistently nominated for those categories... and three of them were from ILM model shop personnel. Besides our group effort, Grant Imahara and Fon Davis each had separate entries. Grant won Best Picture and Fon won a special achievement prize, awarded at the discretion of the judges.
I hope you enjoy the show...
Director, Architects of Evil
P.S. We only made the trailer...there is no movie.
P.P.S. Sorry for the low quality...we didn't have HD available to us when we made it.