To say that you’re familiar with Neill Blomkamp’s work as a director is to say that you understand his aesthetic as a filmmaker and that you recognize the common story themes that he weaves throughout his films. District 9 (2009) gave audiences a new perspective on an alien invasion, one in which the aliens, who arrive in Johannesburg South Africa, are NOT of a higher intelligence and do NOT posses a more superior technology, but are rather aimless and lacking any kind of initiative, and therefore treated like refugees. Elysium (2013) portrays two social classes that are kept separate and at odds with one another. The conflict arises when the upper class goes to extremes in order to retain their lavish and luxurious lifestyle, separate from the grit and grime of the lower class that populates a dying planet. Chappie (2015) shows us how artificial intelligence is not something to be feared, but rather a new technology that should be treated delicately and raised with the same care and love that’s provided to an undeveloped newborn child. Blomkamp’s science-fiction goes beyond any action & adventure story and conveys to audiences potential social complications that could become a reality in a not-too-distant fictional future that closely resembles our own.
This year marks the beginning of a new creative venture for Blomkamp. The South African director has begun an experiment in storytelling, using the unregulated world-wide web to launch Oats Studios, an independent movie-making workshop where a one-on-one connection is provided between the filmmaker and his audience. Through the release of a volume of short films for free online, Blomkamp hopes to attract enough attention and gain enough interest from his audience in order to acquire funding for a an upcoming feature film. It’s sorta a pre-screening prior to the feature film being produced and the audience gets to choose which film they’d like to see made. It’s a clever way for Blomkamp (and investors) to gauge the profit potential of a film before millions of dollars are spent and a project is completed.
Oats Studios was originally conceived three years ago, but it wasn’t until last month that the Canadian-based production company made its self known to the world with the release of three dynamic short films that’s left their audience breathless and wanting more. The films are teasers of what Blomkamp and his closely-knit team of screenwriters, 3D Modelers, and composers are capable of creating. Each short is a blend of genres and a fascinating step forward in Blomkamp’s already incredible catalogue of films. There is RAKKA, the story of an alien invasion by lizard-like creatures who enslave mankind with telepathic powers and horrifying experiments. Then there is Firebase, the story of a soldier in the Vietnam War who searches for a supernatural deity in the Vietnam jungle called The River God. Or maybe you’d prefer Zygote, an edge-of-your-seat thriller as an alien organism mutates and feeds on the psyche of humans while pursuing two remaining survivors in an Arctic base.
The ability to greenlight Neill Blomkamp’s next feature film is in your hands, however the choice is not an easy one because the vignettes created by Blomkamp and Oats Studios weave some evocative and complex stories that get the mind thinking and the soul searching and allow one to enter Blomkamp’s signature surreal possibility of the future. Blomkamp is also an avid gamer and receptive to Oats Studios’ concepts being introduced and expanded upon in the computer gaming world. You can help support Oats Studios by purchasing 3D models, art booklets, or the soundtrack to any of the films at Oats Studios Steam. Choose wisely my friends.
Breaking News: As I write this article Blomkamp and Oats Studios releases another jaw-dropping short film: Kapture. This short does not exude the same intensity of the other three previously mentioned films, it’s on the sillier side, created with motion-capture and 3D modeling, yet it still possess the signature style of revealing prospective military technology in a science-fiction setting with the amusing Blomkamp wit and humor.