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'Portal: No Escape' Elevates the Fan Film Genre

08.24.11 @ 5:00PM Tags : , ,

Dan Trachtenberg’s unoffficial short film Portal: No Escape, based on Valve Software’s videogame series Portal, brings to mind a few talking points. One of them: if you want eyeballs on your short, picking an existing franchise is a great way to ensure you’ll get them (of course, Hollywood uses this same logic to make remakes and adaptations ad naseum). You could do worse than a franchise like Portal, though, which is a terrifically clever series (Portal 2 is one of two videogames I’ve found time to play in the past year). Shot on a RED with anamorphic lenses, the short is extremely well-made:

One interesting departure from Valve’s storyline is that Portal, very notably, (minor spoiler alert, although any trailer will reveal the same thing) does not feature any people in the game other than yourself.

A behind-the-scenes video is apparently on the way.

I need to give the VFX team a break- but hopefully in a week or so we will have a BTS vid up so you can see how we did it. #PortalMovie
Dan Trachtenberg

Red. Anamorphic. RT @: @ What did you shoot it on? Mark II?
Dan Trachtenberg

Finally, here is another short from Dan, this one for BlackboxTV, which appears to be between seasons (or over?):

No matter how you feel about short films, they’re most often calling cards made in hopes of garnering the filmmaker more work or enabling a next project to get made. With that in mind, making a fan film can certainly help one achieve that goal, despite being unauthorized. Are there any existing movies/video games/comic books that you would consider adapting into a short film in order to showcase your filmmaking abilities?


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  • I always thought Halo would be a good choice. It’s one of the only giant franchises in any genre that doesn’t have a movie, so it’s an interesting playground.

  • Why call it Portal? It doesn’t have the atmosphere of the game at all. Very professional looking, but to me Portal the movie shouldn’t look like Terminator Salvation. I thought one of the main draws of DIY is that you get the freedom to create a unique vision, this looks like a run of the mill studio adaptation of a clever property.

    • I’m glad you can just shit on someone’s hard work. This isn’t really the forum for that , I suggest you leave that comment on gizmodo or youtube when you can be comfortably ignored like everyone else. Unless you’re an award winning short filmmaker I’m sure you can leave your bland hating for your mom’s basement. Even if this is full of flash at least it got made, it takes no effort to be a dick but tons of effort to make this.

      Stop being an asshole.

      • You know, Darrell, you don’t need to be an award winning filmmaker to be allowed to dislike a film… If that were the case, you’d also need to be one to like it.

        Me, I don’t think the short is boring, but I do think the music is terrible. As for calling people assholes just because they have an opinion… well, you know what that makes you ?

  • all style, no substance film making. NEXT!

  • Well, I was using it as a talking point about one avenue to furthering your career. So… “Are there any existing movies/video games/comic books that you would consider adapting into a short film in order to showcase your filmmaking abilities?”

  • For those computer based muso’s in the house, listen to the sampled drums around the 2 minute mark… Toontrack’s DFH2 kit. *nearly* Unmistakable \m/

  • Alec Sprinkle on 08.25.11 @ 9:41AM

    You people are hard to please. It’s a well made short.

  • I would love to do X-Men because all the X-Men movies, for the most part, suck.

  • first: maybe it’s because I’ve never played Portal, but I liked it
    and then: it has two million views, which is roughly two million more than anything I’ve ever uploaded to the web… and I think that’s what this post was about

  • Did anyone even watch the second film? That was fantastic.

  • Does anyone else not like the look of the Red?? Every film I see looks so cold and lifeless. I understand it fits the context here, but still…..

  • I want to make a post-apocalyptic Captain Planet fan film. #1 Captain Planet would be something everyone has forgotten about but would recognize immediately. #2 It would touch on humans impact on the earth which has recently been the spotlight of the news. I think it would be perfect.

  • after spending days inside artificial light the girl didn’t react to sunlight ..not so technical issue but something you notice right away..