Description image

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

01.16.13 @ 8:37PM Tags : , , , , ,

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]


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 57 COMMENTS

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

  • BRB, making my sci-fi short

  • Well – that’s certainly a great calling card ! Wonderful xx

  • 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.

  • jordan carr on 01.16.13 @ 11:42PM

    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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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…..

        • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • mikko löppönen on 01.17.13 @ 3:50AM

      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.

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

      • Shanon Fernald on 01.17.13 @ 1:49PM

        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.

    • Um writing is an artistic talent

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

  • Amazing news for Kaleb, wish him the best.

  • 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.

    • Ponysmasher on 01.17.13 @ 5:54AM

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

    • 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

      • (In the last paragraph, i meant to say “is UNLIKELY to go and buy software of another company”…

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • Where is your movie.

      • 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.

        • 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.

    • 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

  • Shane Tilston on 01.17.13 @ 9:57AM

    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.

  • 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.

  • on 01.17.13 @ 10:58AM

    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.

  • 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+++.

  • Great short indeed, no wonder he got noticed

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

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

  • 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

  • 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”

  • Newromanceer on 01.17.13 @ 8:11PM

    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!

  • 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.

    • What is wrong with you? Do you head-butt brick walls for a hobbie?

      He is a student, and he’s produced work like this at such an early stage.


  • The CG, modeling, textures and lighting were great. The animation was a little weak which is okay, he’s in highschool for crying out loud. The story was also quite weak, but again he’s in highschool and because of that it was incredible! :)

  • This guy is a great CG artist with really strong technical skills and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he got hired by Pixar (or similar) because of his skills in 3d modelling/texturing etc.

    this is good showreel for his CG skills BUT i don’t think it is great cinema…

  • This is fantastic.

    For someone so young to produce something as slick as this, it’s really great!
    I’m 23 and hits is far beyond anything I could produce right now.

    This guy has a great potential and talent and it’s reassuring to see people my age doing quite well.

    Best of luck to the guy.

  • “BUT i don’t think it is great cinema…” That may well be but where did anyone claim the kid (remember -Kid?) was creating GREAT!!!!! cinema. I believe the point was , he was off to a new future due to his efforts. And it IS better to a HUGE degree than what Hollywood has been churning out. You tell me this isn’t better than Phantom Menace? Or 70% of all crap passed off as Sci Fi. Come on!
    And for some Cretin to call this Kid’s effort an empty Cardboard Box ,well that’s just par for the course on the Internet. Rather than encourage the Kid ,the guy tries to tear him down for fun. Let’s see your efforts…..Jerk

  • I, being a CG animator with high hopes, can see the work from his perspecitve. The only criticism is that it’s derived from – if you see it, The Matrix. Other than that, I know building a city of three-d models, character animation, and texturing, is a very underrated new class of art. In the future, CG artists and CG engineers will rule the world.

    As for myself, it’s taken years for me to get 12mins of video done on what I call “Samuel’s Grape”. You can see some pics at, Dragonmaker. I’ll die before I finish it! Of course, I have a seven year old computer. This guy at least got to use the school’s system, I feel a ton of compassion, admiration, and sense a true pioneer. Good luck Lechowski!

  • I’m currently in the process of shooting an ambitious scifi project. Our Indiegogo(crowd-funding) campaign is currently up and we need your help and support. Our perks start as low as $10. You can help donate in a once in a lifetime opportunity to make this film into a reality. If you’re unable to donate, there are other ways you can help. Nothing is more effective than traditional word of mouth. We encourage everyone to take the time and have a look at the page. Also, we’d appreciate if you could visit our Facebook page and giving us a ‘like’. We have some incredible talent working on this film. I can ensure you that it’ll be a film you’ll be extremely proud of. If you loved R’ha, you’ll love B.R.E.A.T.H.E.

    Indiegogo page:

    Facebook page:…