Zilly’s War (2019)

 

Eve…………………………… Katyia Shurkin

Young Eve ……………….. Lily Winder

Drew………………………… Ron Weisberg

The Teacher………………. Frank Green

Mr. Gladstone………….. Jeff Poole

Eve’s Mother…………….. Talaya Martinez

Eve’s Father………………. Ernesto Watchman

Mr. Duncini………………. Mike Ostroski

Interviewer ………………. Kate Cook

PRODUCED BY Joseph Donovan Charles Davies Jannis Schelenz
John M. Broadhead Matt Anderson Paul Broadhead

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY John M. Broadhead

 

This week we at 5D HQ were contacted by John Broadhead, all the way from Albuquerque, New Mexico who stated the following;

 

“Greetings to perhaps the finest sci-fi, fantasy horror website on the planet”….(Ok, I made that part up)…..”Good evening! I’m an independent filmmaker from Albuquerque, NM. My team has recently finished up a sci fi short film, made on no budget, and we are looking for anyone interested in reviewing it, sharing it or blogging about it. Not only do we think the process our small team underwent is fairly inspirational, but the film turned into a tense, atmospheric marvel as well.
The film is awaiting its debut at the Philip K. Dick Film Festival in California……… if this is something you find interesting!”

Hmmmm, I thought sagely to myself (well there was no-one else around to listen); a sci-fi short film, an inspirational filming process, a tense atmospheric marvel…… bold words indeed. They could indeed count me in.

There have a number of films over the years that have explored the psychological effects of space exploration, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Silent Running and Solaris to name but three examples. I have to admit that I love this sub-genre of sci-fi tropes immensely. Indeed, Solaris (the 1972 Tarkovsky version of course) is perhaps in my top 10 all-time science fiction movies and yet i’m fully aware of the divide that these films can cause. In my experience this sub-genre is occasionally accused of being slow-paced and self-indulgent. To me, these views completely miss the point of what stories like these are trying to convey – explorations of the human condition, the need to know if we’re indeed alone and the threats that intelligent life and our own intelligent technology may pose don’t always have to be accompanied by a few choice Big Bang Bashing battles.

Zilly’s War has now joined this genre grouping, but before we talk more about its qualities and the inspirational filming process behind it, let me throw a synopsis your eager way;

“‘Eve Abaddon is a brilliant but antisocial young woman who, after fighting her way through a troubled childhood, finds herself selected for a four-year mission to outer space.

 

Once in orbit, her life becomes routine; she sends drones, hour after hour, to collect plant samples from the planet ZL-24971, nicknamed “Zilly.” She takes refuge in the cold routine of space, which could not be any more different from the disruptive nature of the people she left behind.

 

But space may not remain peaceful forever. Eve’s demons come back to haunt her, as the ship begins behaving erratically and the plant specimens take on a whole new form of life.”

I have to say that I found this 25 minute sci-fi film an absolute delight. I watched Zilly’s War just the other night, freshly filled wine glass in hand (not an essential accompaniment for film-viewing, but I like wine) and proceeded to drift along with this moving and distinctly ethereal slice of filmmaking. It was an experience which was calming, moody, atmospheric and disconcerting – all in equal measure.

Katyia Shurkin in the lead role of Eve is simply captivating, her journey from an idealistic traveller to the stars and confronting her haunting destiny is beautifully captured. In fact, the acting is of a good consistent quality throughout the film from the rest of the cast, a factor occasionally missing from low-budget independent productions.

This short film sounds and looks incredible, a factor made particularly surprising considering the low (or zero) budget that the team had to work with, as well as the lack of experience or knowledge regarding special effects – something that I’ll explore in just a few moments.

Adapted from a novella of the same name, Zilly’s War the filmmakers intent is thus – it’s meant as “the first chapter in a larger, epic space saga. As a standalone film it is a gripping exercise in world-building and character development, presenting an exciting new universe in the world of science fiction.” Do you know something dear reader? They may have just achieved that aim.

As mentioned earlier, it’s not only the film that’s impressive, but the filmmaking process that underpins Zilly’s War is equally as interesting. Let me give you an excerpt from the people themselves to paint a picture of what I’m saying;

 

With a science fiction short script in hand, the Reflection Films team put their heads (and wallets) together and built a fully functional set with nothing more than raw materials and dedication.

 

Along the way, a lot was learned. None of the crew had done anything like this before. Set building is different than any other aspect of filmmaking, and comes with unique sets of challenges (particularly when on a tight budget). Who knew wet paint warped thin hardboard? Who knew that so much LED light ribbon would be needed? Who knew programming a cockpit would be so complicated? Very few things went according to plan. The build took months longer than expected, cost more money, and almost ended a few friendships.

Production wrapped in March of 2017.

 

Then, the work began.

 

 

A series of CGI sequences had initially been written with the idea of building miniatures. But after seeing the incredible quality of the footage that had been shot, the team decided to aim for something that could truly lend a polished, professional look to the finished product.

With very little experience in visual effects, and none in CGI, the team went to work on post-production, once again biting off more than they’d ever thought they could chew.

The production designer, taking on the role of VFX artist, taught himself several new programs, including Blender, Houdini, and Fusion, and learned complicated workflows in order to painstakingly create the film’s CGI shots.

 

The process took twenty months.

 

I am forever in awe of the challenges that independent filmmakers go to in order to bring their dreams to reality. I’ve been lucky enough to see first-hand the dedication, talent and unbelievable commitment that these people have to their art and continue to be amazed. I would implore anyone who can to see this marvellous short film.

 

The premiere event is going to be on Saturday, March 16th at 6pm, during the Philip K. Dick Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Festival. A week later (so, beginning on March 23) the film will be made available online at www.ReflectionFilmsLLC.com.

BTW – The latest 5D PODCAST is out

5D Podcast: Sharing the love for the Capt. Marvel movie!

In the latest 5D Podcast we talk about how much we LOVED Capt Marvel as well as our disbelief at some of the less favourable reviews! In addition there is some chat about the latest Lord of the Rings TV rumours as well as our thoughts on the upcoming Shazam & Hellboy films.

We always love to hear from the foolhardy souls who listen to the podcast so send any views, comments, criticisms, dislikes or outright proclamations of love and adoration to us via the the contact page on the 5D website at www.5d-blog.com

 

ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/5d-sci-fi-fantasy-horror/id1345044762?mt=2&i=1000431434917

 

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/episode/57jbTQrZqV66kpPAHQr3fR?si=bKAcpq85QWiKqR_

 

YouTube https://youtu.be/

 

Tunein http://tun.in/ti0HxD

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