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Friday, August 5, 2011

David Levy and Alex Cunningham Plug Into Your Head

I found myself in a most un-desolate location, Culver City. A home to the artist, IndieCade, Sony Pictures and the only maid cafe in LA. I walked stairs up the side of a building . Saw some equipment and props for the movie I assumed I was writing about. I ringed a bell  and was greeted by David Levy, the man that makes robots kill each other.

David Levy's bio flows like the oil out of a recent robot shot in the chest. He's worked in the video game industry for years. He's a gamer so he has some great cred already . Gaming side think Prince of Persia and Assassin's Creed. Recent movies that haven't even come out Prometheus and The Thing prequel. I wish we had more time to talk just about his other work, but today was about his baby Plug.

I first saw Plug on either Twitch Film or Quiet Earth, but was blown away by the story of a robot cop with a massive gun blowing away another robot with a huge gun. Now I was standing next to the man who came up with the whole thing, the master of the robots.

His offices were a shared space with friends working on commercials. He introduced me from LA Weekly. That hurt, quite a bit. Though, I"ll totally say that I am from LA Weekly to J.J. Abrams when I find his offices in Santa Monica and pretend there's been a scheduling error to get a interview.

He got right down to showing me the second trailer. David didn't want to talk he wanted to show off his work. That's a true director, will talk after you watch. He's also co-writer for the film.Steambot Studios which David is CEO is behind the movie.

I was more than blown away from what I saw, where the first trailer you don't know why a robot's malfunctioning to an understanding that there's a bad guy. Photos flew past the extra large screen you'd only see in Hollywood. Imagine having your HD big screen TV in front of you. I don't get to edit with that professional level equipment and it made the experience all the sweeter.

In between images and awkward introductions we chatted about Plug, robots and hot chicks.
He told me they only started with four guys and wanted to do a simple short that be done shooting in a weekend. The were all just working out of a garage, about four guys. Later for a recent scene they had about 30 people expanding their crew and had been working on Plug for over a year.

"Lela hasn't even been introduced said David.  "Whose Lela?" I wondered. She's the heroine and still has yet to be revealed in another teaser.

Leila will be played by Natalie Floyd

Other images flew past and if you saw the teaser trailer or poster you wanna no more about the big gun. Concepts for the gun, the massive gun is from their love of what they enjoy. I do mean they, but will get there in a second. David went to say, "It has a very strong anime appeal to it, obviously we thought of doing it first as a normal gun, but why do everything half-way? We should do a reflection of what we love. We love anime, we love Akira."

Then we discussed how sad the news of the live action Akira was . David then revealed he dreamed about working on that movie. You can see some similarities with his current production. Right now to me he seems like a better choice than any other director put on it. As long as it's set in Japan with an Asian cast.

About then I got to know Alex Cunningham lead designer on Plug. He took a year off from The College of Art and Design in Pasadena to work on the movie. His anime of choice is Ghost in the Shell, surprisingly the series more than the first movie. He's the one sporting the gun and jacket from Plug in all these shots.

So the design of Plug came from Alex's vision and David did more of a that looks good for that part. Even though David specializes in design he left it up to Alex because he's busy directing.. Alex doesn't send out for the props he makes them himself. That day he had to finish up a helmet for someone playing a robot.

Alex and David work well together and are friends outside of the office, though working on Plug for so long makes them feel more like a married couple they chuckled.

Around then David's call he was waiting for about the AT off road vehicle for the shoot came in. They chatted to me earlier about this bad boy below. Talking about it piece by piece. A jet ski engine replaces the real one and the back become the front.
We'd talk the godsend of Home Dept and how every director, PA and prop makers loves how late it's open. When you need in extra piece or rigging or something else it's good to have home depot. It houses the massive frame of the gun on top and scream badass in your face.
He had to take it, the call that is, so me and Alex kept up the conversation. Alex showed off the props and I almost didn't believe someone could stick their head into a robots helmet. It's because they were molded just for one person so it fits just right.  Later, we'd talk about how even though the props aren't fabricated from the ground up like a real props house, they still cost a hefty some and take time to look good for the big screen.

We talked of Cal Arts and how nice Weta Workshop's designs were. I asked what he did in his free time and he said, "Work on Plug".

 It ran into some funding trouble recently when it wanted to do bigger stunts and visual fx and didn't do well as thought possible on KickStarter. David said not to worry and the movie will still be coming out as his last update to KickStarter.

 I feel like that's a real shame it didn't get more funding. One because I didn't know they started a Kickstarter fundraiser to post about it. Two, from the extra footage and clips I saw it's too great a movie not to get more funding.

Plug is a sci-fi post apocalyptic film covered in mystery and it's a short. Robots killing each other will never get old when they ride bad ass all-terrain vehicles and carry huge guns it only makes me want to see more robot violence. It feels so familiar from all the games, anime and movies you've seen. Think about it though, how many robot movies have you've seen where they looked as cool as this? None, would be your answer. Plug  your mind and eyes when this movie comes out.

You can check the Plug site for more teaser updates. Check more props from the short below. I'll attach a rss feed or something to make sure to get updates about it to keep you informed too.

You know you want the jacket.