PLUG - SHORT FILM from vyle-art on Vimeo.
"On a post-apocalyptic Earth, Leila Dawn (Natalie Floyd), is the only human survivor. Raised by Robots after humanity abandoned the planet they destroyed with nuclear warfare, Leila cannot forget her parents nor ignore her yearning to find other organic life. A hunt she sets out on with a Military Unit, Marker (Lex Cassar), leads Leila to discover the reality she’s been denied—a reality that sparks her ultimate quest."
The show started off slow Saturday night at the Gnomon School. Guests we're arriving late due to "LA traffic", the audience was filling up a hangar/studio. All for a movie about a post-apocalyptic tomorrow with robots and a beautiful leading lady, Natalie Floyd. The run time: 18 minutes. Why did this garner such a an outcry at visual effects school? Was it its long history of production or was it the man behind it David Levy, a CGI special effects whiz? It was Levy and his friends, they brought a film featured almost four years ago on this site to a premiere/panel and art show.
The night kicked off with the first two teasers being shown. They weren't cut from the film, they were made on their own to see if David would make the film. "Holy sh*tballs!, " he said, starting the premiere in the response of his audience's turn out and the years it took for the film to finally be shown on a screen. That night he would go through much of the technical side of the movie, the main reason he was there. This was a night to explain the movie, utterly, to students. Any question about making robot heads or getting a retrofitted buggy to work were not glazed over and were answered in the multiple panels held for the film. The accompanying making of film, "Personal Apocalypse", was longer than the actual film itself. It showed the stumbles and Levy's unflinching hate of the buggy featured in the film and its constant annoyance of breakdowns.
Stopping a teaser from playing David said, "Sorry, this is playing with QuickTime, which I despise..., " then switched it to VLC media player. A broken robot stumbles along a desert and you wonder what could have damaged it as does an approaching robot in the much hatted buggy. The broke robot fires, misses the robot asking the questions, and the teaser cuts off before a giant gun aimed at it possibly blows it to smithereens. It's the reason I've come out tonight, to see the finished work.
PLUG plays and it's not what I had hoped for, the mystery and the girl are too drawn from multiple sources of anime and video games, another reason I came to the premiere. Natalie Floyd plays Leila Dawn, the supposed last human on Earth surrounded by robots. She's close with a robot named Marker, voiced by Lex Cassar, and upon a visit to the local energy bar, that looks like a gray Boba Fett's Slave I, finds something she shouldn't, another human? After this unknown man shoots up the joint they track him, via a desert buggy chase, to a mysterious hiding spot that has protection in the form of a giant four-legged mech out to squish anyone causing trouble. Soon Marker and Dawn find their way into whatever secret place this man comes from with a reveal that the robots ended the world for humans.
Visually, PLUG has some amazing special effects for one man and help from his friends, friends that work on all the big budget sci-fi films as does he. The story, acting and directing show their signs of someone new to the field. Pedestrian in effort, the story has shifted too far from the teaser into much of a sci-fi mess or a Sy-Fy Channel mess. It reminded me too much of something Sy-Fy might try to put in from the straight to video market. It's no an Asylum movie, nor a perfect first attempt from a director. It lacks the pull of a indie first feature, it looks so much like everything else already out.
After the premiere and making of the panels of the film began. Filmed on commercial cameras, 5D and 7D's it took four years to make. Broken down, the special effects to the longest at six months of weekends of director David Levy, before going for more CGI scenes with help from friends. A shoot that lasted only six to seven days and editing that took mere three days as David explained it. The four years of trying to get some sort of deal for further funding, which David is still trying to get, made it last for years before showing any finished work.
The actors joined in at the various panels as pictures of souped up Nerf guns a props being made were shown in the background. The lead actress, Natalie Floyd, shared she was a huge Buffy head (fan) and getting to play the role of a girl lost in a world of robots was a dream come true. Her birthday was the night of the premiere as we were told by the moderator of the event. Lex Cazzar, voice of Marker and a production designer told of how it was being fitted with a robot helmet. There was not much space. Trying to act out of it was very tough. Though the actors all agreed Levy gave them a huge amount of freedom on how to act. David Levy, chimed in with another time saying, "If I do anything again, I'd take acting classes."
Levy would chime in with facts throughout the panels, like that the bar scenes, a staple of sci-fi films, was where the fight scene in Fight Club was shot. Britney Spears used it the week before for a music video before he filmed in it. Levy mentioned the story is like Tarzan, instead of being raised by apes, Dawn was raised by robots, a strange symmetry. David Levy told how PLUG's name came about. PLUG was to be a one minute short, a women plugs in a robot and it turns on. It came a long way from there.
One of the moderators asked if Jake Lyall, Rob, knew if he was a robot in a human body. That scene is planned for future episodes of the series. Another point in which the event became more of a inner circle, meta and for students event on the film.
Alex Cunningham, Production Designer told of how it was he's first big gig and the stumbles he had in production from a broken helmet at the get go and suit materials losing their color. "I never did a prop or helmet in my life before PLUG, he told the audience while going over the the different items he worked on. Now he's on Halo 5: Guardians.
No one entered the Post-Apocalyptic Costume Contest from my view, though some students outside were all wearing mustaches for some unknown reason. I asked, only to find out it was someones birthday and that meant birthday mustaches.
The premiere was the same night as the opening of The Art of PLUG, featuring a collection of props, design sketches and stills from the film.
David Levy added his remorse about ever using the buggy. "I hate that buggy', 'if this becomes more than one film, I want the first scene of that being blown up in the next one."