September 14, 2006

Neill Blomkamp - Aspiring Director

Once one of my professors at the ETH told us to go out become inspired, watch movies, go to the theater or dance. Well back than we hadn't much free time so we had to be inventive, but after my year in the US I consider myself a Hollywood-Movie pundit. That's right. So I'd like to introduce you in future to movies or directors I have on my personal watch-list.

Today It's Neill Blomkamp, a Johannesburg native, is a fairly gifted young aspiring director. One that grew up with all that new technology and computers and he doesn't fear using it in his shorts and advertisements, which he has been doing so far. He uses CGI as it is just a cutting method, you can't tell whether the shown object is a built prop or just digitally generated. Absolutely great to see.

He has done commercials for Nike and Citroen most notably.
Groundbreaking and certainly important for his future film making are his shorts Tetra Vaal and Alive in Joburg. The latter features some sort of aliens that are stranded on earth and live in the shantytowns of Johannesburg. You could clearly read it as a critique, because it describes a situation that resembles Apartheid.

Tetra Vaal continues by introducing a robot that performs as a modern police-soldier, replaceable and repairable fighting in a urban-war zone, that unmistakeably looks like Joburg's Townships.

He did another short about a robot that is introduced to a company as "co-worker" and his integration afterwards, or lack thereof; especially in means of love. That might sound absurd at first, but once again the 'bot seamlessly blends in and you even start forgetting that it's synthetic, or even cgi. The robots, although not having that appeal visually, perform "humanoid" what makes you symphatize.

The ad's for citroen, feature cars transforming into robots - again. After I heard that Michael Bay is re-adapting Transformers for the big screen, I hoped that Blomkamp would be involved in it somehow, since the two 'bots from the ad's would make pretty good 'Transformers'.
That seems quite unlikley, but Blomkamp will direct Halo - yes, the alien/marine-shooter-game big-screen adaptation. The project that Peter Jackson was to direct at first will be the cinema-debut for a director I hope hearing from much more in future. Jackson him self acts now as Executive Producer and the Halo-Project which is slated for screen in 2008 is in pre-production.

Of course his ability in utilizing CGI is astonishing and not much seen before, but his filmmaking where he is able to express his vision as a director I suppose is most visible in his short films. They are almost all a combination of a documentary-style, hand-crank-camera and "normal" filming. The intensity might not be there yet, but reminds me of a less graphical Tony Scott or a Michael Mann, actually two of my favourite directors. Actually Blomkamp is represented also by Ridley Scott's Production Company, RSA Films.
I hope I was able to share a little bit of my excitement of Neill Blomkamp's work and why I really look forward on seeing more of his work.

Below you'll find two excerpts from his collections of shorts and advertisements.
- The Citroen-Ad:



- and the new short yellow/adicolor, a darker version of Cameron's iconic Dark Angel:

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