How to Create a High Concept Sci-Fi Short Film with No Money
Some genres of film -- low key dramas, for example -- are relatively easy to produce with small budgets. High concept sci-fi action films, on the other hand, are not.
In 2009, Italian production company Hive Division produced Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy, a low-budget feature length fan film based on the legendary Metal Gear game franchise. Although Hive Division was in the process of producing the second installation in the Philanthropy series, licensing issues forced them to cancel the project entirely. As one last hurrah, the Italian filmmakers produced a 12-minute short film with no budget whatsoever. Despite the distinct lack of a budget, however, they managed to create an incredibly polished and technically impressive piece.
So without any further ado, here's Metal Gear Solid Philanthropy - Part 2.
The film's director, Giacomo Talamini, was also kind enough to send over another video which details how this short film came to life, and how his team managed to make it look so good considering their budgetary restrictions.
What's most surprising to me, especially after watching the "making of" video and seeing the DIY battery-powered LEDs that were used, is just how awesome the lighting of this piece is, especially on a few of the exterior shots. Although some areas of the screen occasionally fall off into black, the sparsely lit, high contrast look lends a distinctive and effective aesthetic to this particular piece. In a way, the lack of high-powered cinema lights -- or even low-powered cinema lights, for that matter -- actually benefitted the filmmakers by forcing them to use the few lights they did have very wisely. And that's exactly what they did.
I may not know much about Metal Gear Solid, or gaming in general, so I can't really speak to the content of the short film, but from a technical filmmaking perspective, what Giacomo and his team accomplished with MGS Philanthropy: Part 2 is incredibly impressive. It's a testament to the power of the tools that filmmakers have at their disposal these days, and it's an even larger testament to what filmmakers can create in spite of not having any money.
If you have questions for Giacomo and his team, leave them down in the comments!