1. FACTORY293 teaser featured on FilmInk with an article about world building! Check it out : )

     


  2. Message of thanks from Myles Pollard and Roderick MacKay (plus a lil’ something special)

    A quick message of thanks to all our supporters from lead actor Myles Pollard and Writer/Director Roderick MacKay along with a few digital-VFX breakdowns from the film’s recently released Official Teaser - enjoy!

     


  3. The FACTORY293 Official Teaser Trailer is here!

    Here it is Comrades… after an immense journey, it is my great delight to present you with the Official Teaser Trailer for FACTORY293. Heartfelt thanks to all our Pozible Supporters, ScreenWest, The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority, The Film & Television Institute and of course, the entire FACTORY293 cast and crew. Enjoy!

    Roderick MacKay / The F293 Team

     

  4. The Official FACTORY293 Poster is here Comrades! Epic thanks to photographer Henry Whitehead and concept artist Simon Boxer who collaborated in creating this fine piece of work. The design harkens back to the 1940’s Soviet-era propaganda posters, which have also had a significant influence on the overall visual style of the film. What do think? A far-cry from sunny Perth, Western Australia, right?!

     

  5. Introducing ‘Grigori’ played by the insanely talented Myles Pollard.

    Once a celebrated Hero of the Soviet Union, Grigori now finds himself discarded and forgotten, overseeing operations at isolated munitions Factory 293. 

     


  6. MIST BREATH… THE FINAL FRONTIER

    Hey Comrades, as always I must start this blog post with the obligatory apology for the lack of updates recently. The truth is, we’ve just been beavering away in post-production like you wouldn’t believe and there hasn’t been too many noteworthy happenings to report - no filming things blowing up against greenscreens, no fake frost on windows, no covering fallen trees with practical snow-FX… Nothing particularly out of the ordinary. That is, until last weekend.

    Now, I may have told a little fib in our previous blog post when I said we’d completely finished filming all our winter special-FX. You see, there was one utterly integral component we’d forgotten… mist breath, or ‘frost breath’ as some call it. See, I realise one can’t annoyingly harp on about ‘bringing snow-swept Russia to Western Australia’ and then not included mist breath – that’d be just be down right lazy.

    So this last weekend, we donned some thermals, scarfs, gloves, beanies and goose-down jackets (oh yeah) and visited the Perth Ice Works, who were generous enough to grant us access to their giant and bitterly cold walk in freezers. So picture this… it’s a balmy 28℃ as Andrew Gordon, Henry Whitehead and I rock up to Perth Ice Works looking like we’re about to embark on arctic voyage… safe to say we’re feeling pretty stupid. But then we stepped into –21℃ and sweet mother of Tolstoy, it was flippin’ freezing, and this was in a controlled freezer with no wind chill to add to the cold. So… to all you Russians out there I ask…. How? How do you live in that and colder? I tip my hat to you…. I’ll take 45℃ at the beach, any day. It was so cold in there that when we finished, we had to place the camera in and cool pack and bring it back up to temperature gradually to avoid condensation forming in the lens and on the sensor - there’s your science lesson for the day.

    So despite filming FACTORY293 in winter (with some pretty cold morning and night shoots), it just wasn’t cold enough for our cast to generate mist breath while performing. So months later, we’ve gone into a freezer, filmed me breathing a range of different kinds/intensities of mist breathssss-ss-s (and from different angles), which are then to be digitally composited into the finished film with our cast members. So to put it weirdly, they will all actually be breathing my breath… call it my cameo in the film.

    As you can see in the images below, it looked pretty darn silly. Why do I have a stocking on my head? The mist breath has to be filmed against a black and under exposed backdrop in order to composite seamlessly into the film. As such, for mist breath filming at a front on angle, you can’t avoid having your face in the frame, so it has to be covered in black material and thus, the stockings.

    Other than that Comrades, I promise you all that we really are getting through the mountain of post-production required on this project. We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel AND I can truthfully say that we have no more winter effects of any kind left to film - booyah!

    As always, thanks so much for your stoic support and patience.

    Roderick.

    P.S. Huge thanks again to the super friendly folks at Perth Ice Works!

    Photos by Henry Whitehead

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  7. Some BTS pics from a few weekends ago when we filmed the last ever practical snow-FX shot for FACTORY293. Sadly, I suspect Perth wont see snow again for sometime… on the contrary, we’re still finding fake snow in our cars, clothing and various other nooks and crannies. Yep, ya heard me!

    R.

    Photos by Henry Whitehead

     


  8. Second Unit/Pickups Done!

    Comrades, time for another blog post! And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I must AGAIN apologise for how long it’s been since the last post. We’re still working ferociously hard to bring FACTORY293 to life, and unfortunately the first casualty amidst a heavy workload is…. blog posts. But, here we are now, with a new update!

    So what have we been up to? In parallel to the constant digital-VFX work going on in the background, we spent a great deal of August executing a heap of ‘Second Unit’ filming. For the non-filmmaker folk reading this, Second Unit consists of a much smaller crew tasked with filming shots or sequences separate from the main, or ‘First Unit’ (thanks Wiki). So in our case, when breaking down our schedule for principal photography (what seems like eons ago), we knew exactly what we HAD to film there and then or we’d never get another chance i.e. anything with our principal cast, sets built and locations fully dressed and lit, or anything requiring a larger crew to execute – obviously this is 90% of the film. Then we could separate the remaining 10% or so of shots that we knew we could ‘cheat’ later with a much smaller crew, stand-ins for our principal cast, only bits of our sets and less lighting equipment. It was a bit of a juggling act, but it’s what we had to do to make this project feasible within the relative constraints of our budget. I’m happy to report that I’m preeetty sure we’ve pulled it off!

    We’ve also executed a heap of special-FX related shots over the course of our August Second Unit stint, which includes lots of greenscreen stuff. In some instances, it’s too dangerous to film certain special-FX elements with the cast members, so we had to film the effects separately against and greenscreen (or bluescreen in some instances) and then composite them into the scene. But… I can’t say too much more on that subject or I may reveal story spoilers…!

    Photos by Henry Whitehead

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    As you can see from the images, some of these Second Unit shoots get pretty bare bones and very DIY very quickly. As time and money begins to run out, you get inventive and find yourself fashioning rigs out of rope, gaffer tape, tarpaulins, clamps, elastics bands and blu-tack… oh and PVC pipe… a butt load of PVC pipe. It looks damned ridiculous, but by George, it gets the job done!

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    There was one particular shoot that required one of the more stupid looking setups we’ve had the pleasure of building (below). We saved a large window and some of the surrounding wall structure from one of our main sets and had it transported to a new location (I mentioned this window in the previous post, which has probably received more attention than any cast member… absolute drama-queen). It’s heavily featured throughout the film and often under close scrutiny. During principal photography we simply had a bluescreen hanging behind it. So the purpose of this super ad-hoc setup was to film all the blizzard elements that need to be seen beyond the window ‘outside’. ‘Snow Lord’ and special-FX guru, Jeremy Shaw, has helmed all of F293’s snow/blizzard and practical atmospheric effects, in conjunction with Andrew Gordon’s digital-VFX wizardry. So both Andy and Jeremy were running the show on this frosty day of Second Unit, which included filming piled up snow resting on the window’s crossbeams, artificial frost on the glass panes and of course, practical blizzard effects hurtling past the window. We had to execute these blizzard effects with the actual window because we wanted to capture the blizzard interacting with it for added realism (the intent anyway)… On top of this, each of these elements had to be filmed separately and from a range of different angles to match up with each angle that we shot the window at during principal photography. Now, each blizzard element is being composited behind the window, layer-by-layer, shot-by-shot… The things we do to tell a story, right? 

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    Why all the tarpaulins? In order for these blizzard elements to seamlessly match the window footage from principal photography, we had to approximately replicate the lighting from the set and create barriers to stop the blizzard effects from blowing in front of the window (because the window was no longer within a fully fledged wall). When we rocked up on the day, we found that the shed we’d planned to film in wasn’t quite suitable. So we built our own outside… out of tarpaulins, rope, clamps and PVC pipe.. and then it rained, but we prevailed.

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    We’ve also done some Second Unit filming at Whiteman Park and been back to the Midland Railway Workshops to film some particularly messy snow pickups that we were unable to film during principal photography due to a faulty snow product from Polymer Innovations, which unfortunately ended up unnecessarily costing us time and money. There will be a more extensive post on this in the future, but In the meantime, avoid Polymer Innovations for practical snow-FX and stick with Snow Business, who have terrific products that actually work… beautifully!

    So it would seem that we’ve finally finished all our Second Unit filming, which means we now… officially… have the entire film shot and ‘in the can’!!! Yew! To celebrate, here’s a short video!

    Not wasting anytime, we’re already getting stuck into post sound having smashed through an ADR (auto dialogue recording) session with one of our principal cast members and another one coming up this weekend. So folks, this behemoth is continuing to take shape. As always, appreciate your support and patience immensely.

    Cheers,

    Roderick.

     


  9. Post-production… a shed load of it

    Hey folks. I’m happy to report that we’re nearing ‘picture lock’ on the edit of the film. As such, I figured it was time for another update of how things are tracking along and to provide an outline of the remaining post-production phases we’re yet to go through before the film is completed and finds it’s way to you all! Of course, any filmmaker folk reading will know this stuff intimately, so this is mostly for everyone else!

    As stated in the previous blog post, we still have a some fiddly VFX related components to film, set to take place sporadically over the remainder of August, after which we’ll finally have the entire film in the can! However, for the last 5 weeks we’ve already been meticulously editing the film (withstanding these few remaining shots) and we’re now tantalisingly close to achieving a ‘picture lock’. For the non-filmmaker folk, ‘picture lock’ is when the edit of a film is approved and locked off on, so that the subsequent post-production work can begin, knowing that the edit isn’t going to change.

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    Once at that stage, the onslaught of digital visual effects work can really kick off. Saying that, due to the sheer amount of effects in this project, our supremely talented digital-VFX effects supervisor/artist, Andrew Gordon (who is also the project’s Cinematographer), actually began work on a couple shots before we even started filming! This super economic approach has already proven essential, as we currently estimate there to be over 100 VFX shots (of varying extremes) in FACTORY293 – that’s a shed load for a short film! So truth be told, we’ve already been feeding Andrew scenes as they’re edited, so he can finish his job in say… oh, the next decade.

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    Once Andrew has made a serious dent on the digital-VFX, that’s when our masterful Colourist, Dominic Pierce of Blue Forest Media (Dom), can start correcting the colour/lighting temperature of each shot so it all matches and edits together seamlessly. But more than that, during in this timeframe Dom will craft the film’s signature look. And it’s worth mentioning that Dom, a man of many talents, was also our Data Wrangler during principal photography, and is now the project’s Assistant Editor during post! AND, we shot the entire film on Blue Forest Media’s Red EPIC cinema camera kit (with some added assistance from the legendary Sam Winzar). So if you’re looking to shoot on an EPIC in Perth, with RED specialists at hand to boot, then head to Blue Forest Media, where technical prowess knows no bounds!

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    So alongside Andrew toiling on digital-VFX and Dominic making the final polishes to the film’s colour grading, our incredible Sound Designer, Josh Hogan (in picture below with Boom Operator Cathii Hoare), will dive into the colossal task of bringing the multifaceted soundscapes and music of FACTORY293 to life. In many respects, this project has been designed to showcase the power of sound design. This is a story with both moments of eerie, isolating silences and intense throngs of hustle and bustle. Sound is 50% of any film, and FACTORY293 is certainly no exception. So like Andrew and Dom, Josh too has his work cut out for him. But there’s no one more up to the task!

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    Ultimately, the film will take as long as it takes to finish. That’s why we’re all here right? To make a great film. And from day one, FACTORY293 has been intentionally designed as a post-production heavy project in order stretch and build digital capabilities within this crew. So, to give you a seriously rough idea of how long it will take us to smash through this mountain of post-production, here’s a highly tentative breakdown:

    - Picture Lock on the edit  - Mid August 2013

    - Digital-VFX – present to early December 2013

    - Colour Grading – 90% by the end of September, with remaining VFX shots being graded as they come in.

    - Sound design, ADR, scoring, mastering – over September to the end of October

    Then, taking into account general faffing about and schedule blowouts that plague any production, I’d realistically say the film will be ready for your viewing pleasure sometime late January/early February 2014! But we’ll see how we go. So I apologise in advance, as this is a later delivery date than we’d previously anticipated, but I promise you it will be highly worth the added wait.

    Thanks for your continued support Comrades, and please keep tuning in!

    Roderick.

     


  10. An overdue update!

    Hey Comrades, sincerest apologies for absence of updates. One starts these blogs with the upmost intent of providing regular enthralling posts, but then the project you’re blogging about can often prove all-consuming and the blog posts subsequently fall by the wayside – a truism for FACTORY293! I promise that the posts will be gradually ramping up from now on as post-production progresses!

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    Anywho, I’m happy to tell you that the film is coming together superbly! We survived 7 fiercely intense days of principal-photography in June and are now in the midst of post-production! In fact, we’ve almost finished out first rough-cut edit of the film. We still have a few more bits and pieces to shoot, but this mostly consists of live action VFX elements, which will be composited into certain shots. Saying that, we do actually have one short scene remaining from the film to shoot (the opening scene), which we just couldn’t fit into our block of principal photography due to an unforeseeable scheduling predicament. But, it’s all turned out for the best, as principal photography was already jam-packed enough!

    So… How jam-packed? To give you an idea, we smashed through over 160 set-ups in 7 days – in some instances tackling 28 setups in a single day. That’s with only one camera, and on top of that… when you’re filming a story set in 1940’s snow-swept Russia (in sun-drenched Western Australia) nothing is straightforward. So overall, I can’t begin to describe just how proud I am of the entire crew. The 7 days pushed everyone to the brink, but no one kicked the bucket. No one walked away. Everyone powered on with vigor and gusto! Not to mention our cast… It’s not like they had an easy job on this gig either. When English-speaking actors take on Russian roles, things can almost inevitably and unintentionally veer into the realms of parody. It’s damn hard to pull off a seamless Russian (and no, that isn’t some raunchy innuendo). But every cast member was inescapably aware of this danger and worked their guts out to avoid it. I’m in awe of what they’ve achieved. So, a baptism of fire (or frost) for all, but I like to think that ambitious projects attract ambitious people.

    On the topic of frost… what was it like bringing snow-swept Russia to life in sun-drenched Western Australia? Well, we’re still in the digital part of that whole process, but as far as principal photography goes… It was no small task, but at the same time, entirely achievable. Like anything, the most difficult part is when you’re at the beginning… designing… testing… You’re overwhelmed with what seems like such an immense undertaking. But once you do the research, break the process down into clear steps and stages, things start to come together in the mind’s eye. Saying that, I can positively confirm that sleepless nights were had leading up to principal photography!

    One of the more difficult snow components in particular relates to a large, prominent window built into one of our main sets, where the blizzard can be seen outside. It’s featured in almost every shot in that set… Of course, the blizzard has to be seen interacting with the glass panels and beams of the window, but in a manner that doesn’t obscure the bluescreen behind it, so we can still digitally replace the background. This has to be done in layers of both ‘practical’ and ‘digital’ FX and is proving one of the more fiddly technical components within the film now in post-production (among many). But, I’m confident that we’ve approached solving this particular task in the most logical manner, considering the relative constraints of our budget. There’s just no way to avoid what is an innately fiddly job!

    Photos by Henry Whitehead

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    Speaking of fiddly, working with snow generally means you have another department to contend with at all times. It complicates everything, adding hours to the day, but… it’s a world of fun and looks incredible (if you get the good stuff). Using fake snow really brings out the little kid in you. I guess It’s one of those ‘magic trick’ moments you get to experience when making a film. So despite the added headache, I’d gladly use the stuff again, should another production call for it. I’m not the sure the rest of the crew or the cast would be up for it but?

    There were a multitude of other elements surrounding the production that had us all more nervous than the snow but. Even if the story wasn’t set in a blizzard, bringing a 1940’s Russian munitions factory to life in Perth is a tall order across all production departments. Luckily, one of the major catalysts for writing the script and kicking off the entire project, was a love affair with the heritage listed Midland Railway Workshops. I stumbled upon this location a few years back and have ever since been trying to create a project that would draw on all its sheer epiceness. Even with cinema grade artificial snow-FX shipped in from the UK, an amazing cast and crew and a damn decent budget for a short film, there is simply NO WAY we could bring this story to life without the Midland Railway Workshops - the script was written for it. Luckily, the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority, who manages the site, has been tremendously supportive of the project since day one. Which is great, because we based pretty much every set there except for two - one, which we had to build from scratch in an ad-hoc studio space at the Film & Television Institute (another hugely generous and supportive group that we couldn’t have made the film without), and the other is another existing location at Whiteman Park (ditto). Saying that, FACTORY293 isn’t the only film to have shot at the Midland Railway Workshops. But, considering the sheer scale of innate production value that’s just… sitting there, I’m baffled that it hasn’t been more utilised.

    But even with the epic and operatic Midland Railway Workshops as our primary shooting location, the film’s factory floor set would have looked utterly ridiculous if it were not for two things: (1) The sheer generosity of the Machinery Preservation Club of Western Australia, (2) our utterly enthusiastic and unfathomably dedicated fleet of factory floor extras.

    Without revealing too much before you’ve seen the film, the Machinery Preservation Club (MPC) brought a level of authenticity and further production value to the factory floor that we could have only dreamt of. And similarly, our extras, well… they went above and beyond what was expected. I’m still flabbergasted by their dedication. Without them, there would have been no life, no hustle and bustle on the factory floor.

    Seeing as I’m on a roll thanking various people and associations, I must sincerely thank ScreenWest, who made the largest cash contribution to the production’s budget via their new bold 3 To 1 Matched Funding Initiative and of course our awesomely generous Pozible Supporters!

    OK Comrades, I better get back into it! Stay tuned as we reveal more behind the scenes from principal photography, provide updates on post-production and introduce you to more of the talented FACTORY293 cast and crew. We’ve lots to show you, we just don’t want to reveal too much too soon - you know how it is!

    Roderick MacKay

    Photo by Christian Fletcher

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    Photos by Henry Whitehead

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