January 16, 2013

Hollywood Comes Knocking: Sci-Fi Animated Short 'R'ha' Attracts Buzz for Kaleb Lechowski

This story has repeated itself a few times over the last few years, but it's worth sharing another inspirational and impressive short film that gets noticed by Hollywood. Kaleb Lechowski, a 22-year-old who studies digital film design at Mediadesign Hochschule in Berlin, Germany, produced the animated short R'ha for a school assignment. The impressive CG animation has earned him accolades across the web, and even across the Atlantic, garnering interest from Hollywood executives. Check out R'ha:

Here is a bit of his process, taken from Motionographer. The whole project took him 7 months:

[He] modeled most of the short’s assets in Blender and used Maya for shading, rigging, animation and most of the rendering (with Mental Ray). He leaned on zBrush for sculpting and Nuke and AfterEffects for compositing. Lechowski created “R’ha” during his first year studies at Germany’s Berlin Mediadesign Hochschule.

Sound by Hartmut Zeller, voice acting by Dave Masterson.

If you're wondering what the result of all of this hard work has been, Mashable has a bit of the scoop:

Thanks to his impressive work, Lechowski is now headed to Hollywood. Glassgold, who acts as Lechowski's manager, got in touch with him and offered him a chance to pitch his short and his ideas as a full feature to movie producers. The manager thinks the movie has great potential, not only because of its technical excellence. "After speaking with him, the world and universe that he has in mind for R'ha is groundbreaking," the Glassgold wrote.

The German student will go to Hollywood in a few weeks to meet with executives and see if he can get the financing he needs to turn this into a movie. Lechowski and Glassgold declined to give more details about who they'll meet but Glassgold said they "are already fielding offers and interest for a feature."

Lechowski said he has some ideas on how to develop the movie, although obviously the rest of R'ha's story isn't decided yet. What he needs now is some help so he doesn't have to keep doing everything on his own, although he jokingly says that could do that too — with a considerable amount of time on his hands.

"It's just a question of time, I think," he says. "If one would say I have 10 years of time to make a full feature out of it, I could do it my own, I guess. But that's not what I want to do."

I've said it before, if you're looking for a true calling card that will get you noticed, a science fiction short with effects has worked time and time again. That doesn't mean that's the only thing that will gain you the attention of Hollywood executives, but there is a reason it works: the powers that be are always looking for the next big thing or the next big franchise, and the science fiction genre lends itself well to being the basis for a huge tent-pole film. Whether you can make that story into a coherent 2-hour narrative and pull it off is a completely different conversation, but the hardest part for most people is getting noticed.

What do you guys think about the short? How about short films themselves as a calling card? Do you know anyone personally that has used a non-science fiction short to gain the attention of Hollywood? If so, how did they do it?

Link: Kaleb Lechowski -- Tumblr

[via Mashable & Motionographer]

Your Comment

57 Comments

Look great but as usual with these youtube virals things its empty as a cardboard box.

January 16, 2013

1
Reply

well, it is only 6 minutes
I think it is pretty good

January 16, 2013

1
Reply
Derek

... and what have you made? Just wondering.

January 17, 2013

1
Reply
Sean

I agree with Derek, if you want deeper characters in 6 minutes, you can't really show much else. Incredibly job for (nearly) one person!

January 20, 2013

-1
Reply
Tim

BRB, making my sci-fi short

January 16, 2013

1
Reply
Mr. W

Well - that's certainly a great calling card ! Wonderful xx

January 16, 2013

-1
Reply
Sam

What happens next!?! I would love to see what this guy could do with a six-figure budget and a year to work on it. Looks like a good start to something epic.

January 16, 2013

1
Reply
Derik

I vote 9 figures and 3 years.

January 16, 2013

0
Reply
marklondon

some producer probably turns it into golden shit

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
Tony

Cheezy. Never understood why people with artistic talent try to write their own stories. Why not work with great scifi authors like iain m banks, greg bear, peter f hamilton, richard morgan, or dan simmons.

A few months from now nobody will remember this short. Imagine if he had partnered with dan simmons and pulled A few chapters from Hyperion.

January 16, 2013

0
Reply
jordan carr

Yes. Just imagine a 22 year old student negotiating those rights, or worse, basing a year's work on something he has no rights to, and may be pulled once its finished. Its demonstrating his skills as a director and an animator. The writing does need to improve, but that will happen.
As to the authors you mention, if one put a story idea out and said 'hey guys, have at it as long as you credit me' then I'm pretty sure someone would use it.

January 16, 2013

-1
Reply
marklondon

Good point. But the wealth of material these authors "will" license might surprise you. I work for amazon and have seen big name players.- not nec the ones I listed above - beg for promotional help.

January 16, 2013

1
Reply
jordan

Then they need to beg louder. Seriously. They may only be saying that within the publishing industry. Put it out on Reddit. :-) Also, having also swum in these waters, once a publishing house gets involved things can get very complicated, even if the author loves it. But if they're serious, they just need to get the word out.....

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
marklondon

Agree.

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
jordan carr

I don't know what you all do for a living but that was amazing. I understand constructive criticism but for a 22 year old to do that single-handedly, it's nothing but exceptional.

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
Cameron

I remember the last time I worked with those guys... Man, has it been THAT long?

All jokes aside, I don't get this whole "Off to hollywood" stuff. He makes THIS and he's made? This kinda seems 10 years ago kinda content, no offense. I'm sure these kinds of success stories are short lived. Hollywood doesn't work like that. "Oh wow, you've got a great idea? Come in, let's give you money..." It's more like, "Does it HAVE to be an Alien race?"

Sorry, great job and he should be very proud of his work, but I think getting carried away isn't a smart play. Hollywood might ruin this dudes life. In all seriousness.

January 16, 2013

0
Reply
Neil

They're not short lived. With work like this he'd definitely get meetings. Serious meetings. But as to whether they last, talent is only the smallest part of that equation. Or you can get a huge 9 figure studio pic land in your lap and essentially get fired off it, which happened just last year to the last 'Amazing CGI short guy goes to Hollywood' story I can think of.
And rather than riff on his idea, usually they pull a script out of a drawer and say 'we've had this thing kicking around since '85. Do you have a take on it?'.
In the '90s it was music video guys. That NEVER happens now, so today its scifi CGI shorts. Just got to get noticed.

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
marklondon

And none of those authors would give a 22-year old student any rights to use anything for free. Besides, learning to tell a story is a critical part of being a director too. The best ones write their own films so you better get some practise there too.

January 17, 2013

1
Reply
mikko löppönen

The rights to Hyperion are with a very, very BIG Hollywood name.

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
Jerome

Well, they need to get cracking then. I've been waiting for years. Needs to be a mini series though. Otherwise it will officially be butchered, no doubt like world war a to come.

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
Shanon Fernald

World war z rather.

January 17, 2013

1
Reply
Shanon Fernald

Um writing is an artistic talent

January 18, 2013

0
Reply
Mr X

Very well made for a single guy but I agree with Mandingo that the story is far from original and exciting.

January 16, 2013

0
Reply

Amazing news for Kaleb, wish him the best.

January 17, 2013

-1
Reply
Daniel

I'd love it if MAYA and NUKE contacted to ask just where he got the software to do this work.
Best you a$$ it was pirated.

January 17, 2013

2
Reply
Fresno Bob

Since he's a student I'm guessing he either got a student discount or got the software through his school.

January 17, 2013

-1
Reply
Ponysmasher

Sure he had the software at school and pirated at home

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
Fresno Bob

coming off as a complete hater, not to mention a complete hater.

January 17, 2013

-1
Reply
morgan

LOL!

January 18, 2013

1
Reply
Jerome

That point of view is too narrowminded for me to let it pass. If you really think that software conpanies give a damn about students pirating their wares, your wrong. They couldnt care less, and secretly they even expect them to do it, because that way the future cgi artist is learning an app that he will use later (and hopefuly buy).

Heck, ive had teachers give me pirated software, so that i could learn it. Later, if i like the software and use it in my work, i will invest in it. A future professional is likely to go buy software of another company, if during his studies he used the software of another one. Thats the way it works in reality

January 17, 2013

-2
Reply
Paul

(In the last paragraph, i meant to say "is UNLIKELY to go and buy software of another company"...

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
Paul

You ignorant, ignorant ahole. If you read his tumblr he states that he spent 10 hours a day, every day at the school's lab, sleeping there on more than one occasion. Educate yourself before you spew garbage outta your keyboard.

January 21, 2013

0
Reply
Brett

That's so cute Bob. I'm guessing you're 43, have never accomplished anything with your career, and your computer is full of pirated software and midget porn. Just because you never realized your dreams doesn't mean you have to hate. Enjoy your job driving a bus.

January 21, 2013

0
Reply
KFrizzle

Did he really make this movie in seven months all by himself? Granted some of the sets/shots were not all that complex, but still just creating the framework of the cgi, let alone shading, animating, and motion capture, seems like it would have taken just half a year by itself.

This short is pretty much a direct rip off of "The Animatrix" and "Matrix" movies, except the kid used Goro from Mortal Kombat, instead of a human as the main character.

The problem with these sizzle reels is that they are almost always totally devoid of emotion, story, or characters. There are a LOT of talented visual effects people in Hollywood, and I'm always dumfounded whenever some kid somewhere throws together a sizzle reel and then somehow he's the next big thing?

Is that the way you break into Hollywood now? You can't just make a good movie, you have to create a bland flashy short? I guess that it's is that visual effects drive today's movies, and even though these shorts are almost always totally forgettable, they do serve the purpose of show those in Hollywood that the creators of these shorts can make something flashy.

January 17, 2013

2
Reply
Some Guy

Where is your movie.

January 17, 2013

2
Reply
Paul Jay

Not this bs again.

You don't know what anyone's made or worked on. You're allowed to be critical without putting up your bona fides.

January 17, 2013

-1
Reply
MD

Actually, I've spent the past seven months writing the short I'm going to be filming in the spring. Seven months to ensure the story is the best it can be.before I shoot anything. The film is actually going to have a lot of special effects, but the special effects are only going to serve the story, not be a substitute for the story.

This 22 year old kid is definitely talented, but why must he be pigeonholed, or pushed up as the next big "auteur" when he could make some serious $$$ in the visual effects industry.

January 18, 2013

1
Reply
Some Guy

User PAUL JAY has a point. There are a lot of talented people in the world, but only a few actually do something. Talk isnt enough. Actions speak louder than words

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
Paul

While the overall premise isn't totally original, he still told the story he had well. Above and beyond the technical prowess, he's got skills in terms of pacing, camera placement, composition and editing - all important storytelling techniques - that I'm sure Hollywood would be interested in working with. As a writer/director type, I'm hesitant to devalue the importance of an original story, but for Lechowski, "going Hollywood" would play to a number of his non-writing skills.

January 17, 2013

-1
Reply
Shane Tilston

Well it's not only about a well done sci fi short film, it gets Hollywood attention mostly because of its popularity, it serves as a test bed to prove its sellability. With that said If you have almost 900k views on Vimeo in 5 days it might be enough to say it will probably do well in the theaters and that's what producers care about, being a bad or good story. Do your comedy/drama short and if you get it popular in the net you'll get your deal too. Of course the audience in general loves eye candy stuff, just compare the summer flicks boxoffice with the Oscar contenders one.

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
Marcus

This is phenomenal! I really commend Kaleb for his perseverance, determination, creativity and his technical ability. I was hooked in the first 30 seconds. Great job!

Regarding short films as calling cards: it's a good way to get your name out, but the quality needs to be high in order to justify the expense. It's quite possible for someone to ruin his or her reputation as a filmmaker before his or her career starts by having a poor short film.

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
DIYFilmSchool.net

Extremely well deserved and hopefully it amounts to industry success for him. I don't get the harsh criticism though, it's not as if this was a studio-produced gazzilion dollar project that neglected hiring a good writer. It's one student making a short for a school assignment, in that context it's Triple A+++.

January 17, 2013

-1
Reply
Agent55

Great short indeed, no wonder he got noticed

January 17, 2013

-1
Reply

I like this. I would like to see this as a featured movie for something like Netflix.

January 17, 2013

0
Reply

considering the amount of money needed to produce something like this, a "netflix release" aint gonna finance it

January 17, 2013

-1
Reply
Paul

Judging from this short, lechowskis talent lies in the making of the cgi, not the script. But you have to respect the amount of hard work and perseverance that he put into this. One might be the most talented person in the world, but unless you actually produce something, that talent is worthless. Talent is only a part of the equation. Wish kaleb the best of luck. But theres still a long road ahead

January 17, 2013

-2
Reply
Paul

Great job Lechowskis, for the critics that hasn't received 900k views within 5 days why are you even speaking other than commending this young film maker for a job well done. Time and time again it's bitter people who have failed at producing anything worth having a topic of discussion as this tread has.

So as you've noticed Lechowskis isn't the one one on this tread because he's busy doing something worth while ..Instead of critiquing he's actually producing.. Job well done to this young Film maker "Perfection Doesn't Exist" however Practice makes Better and to do "Nothing" at all doesn't take practice just "Criticism"

January 17, 2013

0
Reply
Keith W

+1 - Could not agree more!

January 18, 2013

0
Reply
Siddhu

Wow, those haters cut the guy some slack. This is brilliant for a short. As far as criticisms over the story, I mean he had 6 mins to play with and packed quite a few story elements in there. Writing dense plot elements with limitations is very difficult and an art form - remember that brilliant LOTR Fellowship of the Ring prologue? Condensing some much material down is hard. This guy has much talent more power to him... Would love to see a full feature of this... hey the Xbox game version would be cool too!

January 17, 2013

1
Reply
Newromanceer

Neill Blomkamp got to make District 9 because his short had a social / thematic message, and had almost a decade of experience doing VFX for Stargate and the like. But what has Patrick Jean done since Pixels? James Mather, Stephen St. Leger made Lockout, which was fun but silly, but they made commercials for years. Dan Trachtenberg seems set to direct Y: The Last Man, but I won't believe it until I see it go into production.

This is solid vfx work; but that's about it. It's badly written, shakily edited. If he wants a job as a lead a top tier post house, he might be able to get it after learning how to work in a team for a few months, but why you would put $30 million behind someone who is completely unproven at telling stories, I have no idea.

This narrative of an FX driven short is a fun one, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Scifi is great when it is used to tell a human story, and the fx drop away to be a technique in support of the theme. when all it is is about the technique (and not even good technique by today's standards of performance capture) then it loses its potency as a genre.

January 17, 2013

2
Reply
MD

Pages