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Interview: Brian Curtin, Independent Filmmaker & Director of Beyond Black Mesa

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Made with $1200, a crew of seven produced a high-quality fan inspired film Beyond Black Mesa while juggling with a full time day job.

It has garnered 500 Million views within two days on YouTube, 53 daily honors for YouTube and 25,000 views on Vimeo. Sinema interviews director Brian Curtin, who directed, produced, wrote, edited, art-directed and acted in his award winning short film.

How was the production team for Beyond Black Mesa formed?

Curtin: The core group consisted of Matt Hall, Mat Powell and myself. We were the original group that completed Concrete Hustle, our lightsaber short. We convinced my girlfriend and a few other friends to help us make this movie possible. Everyone had multiple rolls as actors, grips, or whatever else we needed.

What motivated the team to finish this film?

Curtin: We were inspired when we began this project and committed to doing everything we could finish it and do it well. We had a lot of drive to see what the final product would look like so we kept pushing through. It turned out to be 4-5 months of pre production, 4-5 months of shooting, and the rest was eidting and post production. A lot of late nights and Red Bull contributed to it being finished.

How did you guys strike a balance between your day job and producing this film? Do you think it’s possible to have completed this film earlier if it wasn’t because of your day job?

Curtin: Definitely, it probably would have been done in 6-8 months with out full time jobs. It was very draining trying to make progress on this side project while taking care of business at work. I became an Art Director at my job by day and Indie Filmmaker by night. On another note, I was the only one editing and working on the post production, so it moved slow with one man working on what we were attempting to do.

If you could change or improve the production, what will it be?

Curtin: There’s tons of things I would have done differently…if money wasn’t the issue. The Canon HV20 we used served it’s purpose, but I would have used something with a DSLR lens to get that real depth of field in some shots. I faked it in After Effects a lot. I would have used lights. Everything we shot was with the available light source. Real actors is another thing. We were the only ones who would spend the time running around an old factory, shooting at each other and jumping out windows. Unfortunately, we are not actors, that’s why we tried to limit our acting by using a Narrator.

What softwares and hardwares (DIY or purchased) were used in this production?

Curtin: The whole film was edited in After Effects. As most of you may notice, Andrew Kramer’s Action Essentials 2 was a huge help with a lot of the effects. That collection of footage is a must for any action filmmaker. We did use a homemade steady cam and a dollie that ran on a pvc track. The coolest and most dangerous thing was our DIY rip cord for the explosion at the beginning. Basically I was in a harness hooked to a rope that was fed through a secured hook 10 ft up on a shed, then attatched to a car. When I think back…that was stupid.

Has any corporations or production companies approached you guys after the film release?

Curtin: We did get contacted from a few companies out in California and most of them want to know what we plan on doing next. Very flattering.

What have you guys learned from producing this film?
Curtin: We have a better understanding of what goes into a project like this. You would think, how hard can 12 minute movie be. Really hard when it’s visual effects heavy. It’s unfortunate the viewers who criticize Indie movies like ours is that most of them have never attempted to produce something like this and they don’t understand how demanding the process is.

Any plans for a sequel, short film or feature film?

Curtin: We are looking to start another project. It will not be an extension to BBM, but it will definitely be attractive to gamers and any sci-fi fans. If you noticed the leap from Concrete Hustle to BBM, we think this next project will be on completely different level of quality. We plan to use Kickstarter.com to help raise funding for our next project, so if our fans are looking to support us or be apart of our next project, help us out when we start our kickstarter project.

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