Taken from a larger feature length story from director Val Keller, sci-fi short After Thought transports us into a surreal world in which it’s possible to receive the bill for your own funeral whilst unwittingly becoming a test subject in an underground scientific experiment of dubious intent. We asked Producer Reza Amidi to provide DN with a peek behind the mysterious curtain.
After Thought is based on a feature film script written by director Val Keller. We knew we couldn’t tell the entire story in an 8-minute film, but we could still create a visceral experience for the audience, so we focused on creating atmosphere and building a mystery. Perhaps one of the most important things we did was hiring the brilliant Matt Tkocz as concept artist for the lab and the machine. His well-executed illustrations set the tone for the whole short and helped us explain to other cast/crew members what we were trying to accomplish.
This was a 3-day shoot shot on RED ONE in 4K with a very talented cast and crew who we were fortunate enough to work with. The first day was all the green screen shots. We had Bryan Whitaker on board as our on set VFX supervisor and he came up with the “cage” which stood in for the machine during the green screen shoot. It was a challenging shoot in that the green screen was only one side and we were simulating a four-wall room. The cage had to be flopped in the correct direction whenever we changed camera position. Day two was for the interior shots and the parking lot scene. Our DP, Arseni Khachaturan, did an excellent job pulling off the look we wanted. Arseni has a European approach to lighting, which was very appropriate for the short. We were going for a mood; the lighting had to look natural, not over lit.
Val had limited time to work with the actors but was able to get effective performances, especially from David Dastmalchian and Sam Buchanan. The scenes were not rushed or stylized in any way. Val wanted a natural feel to the interaction that would run counter to and contrast with the strange, creepy activity in the funeral home. The interplay between David and Sam in the parking lot feels natural yet hints at the dark forces at play.
The film was color-corrected on the Resolve and we had 13 VFX shots. Chris Witt, our editor worked very closely with Val and created a pace that tends to have breathing room. We are hoping that the short film can help us finance the feature adaptation and that we get the opportunity to work with our principle cast and crew again.