Are sci-fi fans sick and tired of computer-generated effects? Judging from micro-investor response to a fundraiser trailer for C: 299792 Kilometers Per Second, there seems to be plenty of hunger for seeing old-school miniature spaceships soaring through black space.
To generate financing for their indie short film, which follows a flight officer as she hijacks her spaceship and tries to flee the solar system, Derek Van Gorder and Otto Stockmeier made a Kickstarter pitch clip (embedded below) trumpeting “in-camera” techniques that hearken back to the golden era of sci-fi and fantasy moviemaking.
“We wanted to use new technology to help us rediscover the old methods,” Van Gorder told Wired.com in a phone interview.
“Miniatures are becoming less common in Hollywood movies so a lot of places that make them are shutting down in favor of CGI. But on the low-budget indie level, new DSLR cameras have this low-light capability that open up a new window to that style of shooting effects. You no longer require massive amounts of time and budget. We can do these in-camera shots on our own in a much smaller environment.”
The New York filmmakers hit their budgetary goal of $18,000 on Kickstarter late last month, then doubled their money with donations, receiving contributions from more than 2,000 people.
“We’re using extra funds to build larger and more complicated miniatures and to get video projectors for more on-set effects and more,” Van Gorder said. “It’s a really ambitious project, so any additional funds we raise will be put straight into production value on-screen.”
The teaser trailer shows off the filmmakers’ spare approach to intergalactic visuals: A white spacecraft floats through black space that’s pin-pricked with tiny “stars.” The miniatures, while short on detail, effectively evoke the sense of isolation experienced by the quiet voyager seen in a series of brief monologues.
Citing Stanley Kubrick, Ridley Scott, special effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull and vintage Japanese anime as key inspirations, Van Gorder said he hopes their digital take on century-old optical techniques will produce “more atmosphere, greater believability and a sense of timelessness” in C: 299792 Kilometers Per Second.
The directors used a Canon 5 Mark II DSLR camera for the trailers and hope to upgrade to the new Canon C300 by the time they start principal photography in a Hudson, New York, warehouse in late February.
As for the film’s titular theme, Van Gorder explained that 299,792 kilometers per second represents the speed of light.
“Though we can never reach the speed of light as we understand physics currently, we can come infinitely closer to it,” he said. “We need to do that in order to travel to other stars. There’s a huge gap in our technology right now but I think it is possible. The purpose of the story is to set that [speed] as the bar we should be striving toward no matter the cost.”
The filmmakers, who continue to solicit funding, plan to release the 25-minute C: 299792 Kilometers Per Second in the spring.