Someone on our Facebook fan page named Psy Phon asked: "How much CGI will there be in the film? Who will be the artist?"
Great question, Psy!
Answer: Very little, actually! We've got a couple of shots where someone is holding a capture (kind of like a hand-held moving photograph), and we may need to green screen one entryway so that the interior and exterior match for continuity, but beyond that, I was careful not to write anything into the script I couldn't do myself. I make my living as a video producer, so I know my way around After Effects pretty well, but we really wanted the entire budget to be spent on the performances and locations.
Q: What camera are we shooting on?
A: We're shooting on a Panasonic GH4, with an Atomos Shogun for our capture device, allowing us to shoot in a 4:2:2 color space.
Q: Uh... what?
A: For those who are unfamiliar with cameras and other film terms, suffice it to say that this is a very nice camera that will make a fine film. Shooting in 4:2:2 means that we capture more color depth, allowing us more latitude in the editing room.
Q: Say, doesn't that camera shoot in 4K?
A: Indeed it does, but we'll be shying away from that resolution until we hit at least our first stretch goal. Capturing, storing and editing that 4K footage is a huge time and energy commitment we won't make until it becomes feasible to do so.
Q: How about the other gear? Sound, lenses... all that stuff?
A: We'll be using top of the line Sennheiser sound gear on this show, editing in Adobe Premiere, and doing additional post production in Adobe After Effects. Part of our budget allows for the rental of some great pieces of glass (lenses) so that we can really make this a cinematic experience.
Q: What kind of ships can we expect to see in this film? Will Serenity make an appearance?
A: Nope! There's a lot of folks in the 'verse, and not all of them own a ship. Most people, we reckon, live out their lives planetside. So our aim was to tell you the story of a couple of folks who don't have a ship of their own. It was my intent when I wrote the script to reduce the costs of the production by not having a ship, but then we had to go ahead and rent a whole Old West town and a Japanese garden! Oops!
Q: How can I help get this made?
A: Contribute! Make a pledge! Get some swag! And please, pass it on!
Got more questions? Keep 'em coming by contacting us at FireflyFanFilm@gmail.com! Thanks!
Quite a while back Frank Fradella had the idea to do a film inspired by Firefly. He posted a Q&A back on the Firefly Fan Films site about his future short 'A Faithful Companion'. I've gone back and dusted off the Q&A, adding a few updates as we look forward to filming it in the coming months.
That's the name of our short film, which sets out to answer the question, "What happens when a Companion falls in love?"
Okay, so we're not going to assume that everyone who finds their way here is going to be the most die-hard Firefly fan ever, so here's a quick breakdown for you: This is set in the future. Earth got used up, so we expanded out to other planets. The core worlds are very technologically advanced. The worlds on the outer rim are more like frontier worlds. So you end up with a kind of "space western." Shadow is one of the planets on the rim. A Companion is the future's answer to a geisha. Yes, they have sex for money, but in that society, they are given the same respect as a diplomat or an ambassador. They are highly intelligent, very well-educated, and they choose their clients. Their clients don't choose them.
Current estimated running time is about 25 minutes.
Not a single one. This is an all-original story with all original characters. The 'Verse is a pretty big place. Serenity wasn't the only ship flying, and as much as we loved her crew, those were some pretty singular people who made those characters come alive. We're aiming to tell a story of other people, but you might see some similarities here and there.
We're aiming for a shoot date in the spring, sometime in late April or early May, if all goes well. Our operations are based out of Port Saint Lucie, FL, and we'll be filming in Parrish, FL for part of the shoot, and in the Morikami Japanese Gardens for another bit.
We'll be running a crowdfunding campaign and asking folks to donate a few bucks to help us out. A lot of us will be working for free, but some things — like hiring actors and paying for craft services— costs a few pennies. Luckily, we're working with a well-respected charitable organization who has approached us about being our fiscal sponsor (details to come). That's a fancy way of saying you'll make your payments to them and they'll dispense to us the funds we need. Everything else goes to charity, and your whole donation is tax deductible. How's that for shiny?
Our film will be available online. For free.
Any merchandise we sell will be strictly during the fundraising portion of our process, and will go directly toward the production costs. Even then, we won't be selling anything with FOX's copyrighted material on it. It'll be original t-shirt designs or behind-the-scenes DVD shenanigans or some such tomfoolery. Once the film is made, we won't be able to take any more funds unless we're specifically asking folks to send our little film to a festival somewhere.
This story doesn't have one. This is a story about people. Not everybody spends their lives in the black.
For me — Hi, I'm Frank Fradella, the writer/director — the greatest unfulfilled promise of the entire Firefly TV show was the relationship between Mal and Inara. I can't say this film is what would have happened — our characters are different from Joss' characters — but it's a concept I wanted to explore. I believe in love. I just think some people are stubborn and stupid, is all. They don't always know how to love someone back. Sometimes they do.
Hey, I get it. You've been burned. We were warned going into this that the Browncoats are a little gun shy about these fan film productions. But what makes us different is very simple and very important: We specifically wrote a story containing only props and locations that we already had access to (that means no space ships, no blasters, no holographic pool tables) and was something we could shoot in three days. We're not aiming for a feature film here. We wanted to tell a simple story and tell it well. Most importantly, we wanted to make sure that we could keep whatever promise we made about delivering that film.
You can return to this site for frequent updates, or you can follow us on Facebook at "A Faithful Companion."
That's it. Did I miss anything? Ask me in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer or update this post!
Early on in the campaign we were contacted by William T. Pace, Master Patchmaker, phenomenal designer, and die-hard Browncoat. William had contributed work to more than half a dozen Firefly fan films, truly making the 'Verse live and he asked if we might have a use for his particular set of skill. Boy, did we ever!
William has come on board and is not only managing the conversion of the Companion logo I designed, but he's also bringing some unique goodies to the table of his very own. He and I are both taking stabs at patches for Parrish and Morakami and they'll all be available as perks in this campaign in The Ultimate Patch Collection.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
William introduced our project to star cartographer extraordinaire J. ChrisPat Bourdier, who (along with William) produced the amazing tome, The Verse in Numbers, a comprehensive guide to the stars, systems, planets and moons of the Firefly universe. And wouldn't you know it, but those kind folks went ahead and included our little world of Parrish in their guide, and made it a moon of a planet called Zeus. Mighty fitting considering that our main character is named after a Greek Muse.
Pretty cunning, dontcha think? :)
I expect a new version of the book will be released before too long, but for now, you can go ahead and check out our page here. We're awful proud of it.
So, hey, let this be a thank you to the folks who have already opened their money bags and thrown us a few coins. We're up over the first 10% hurdle and that feels mighty shiny. But we've still got a ways to go, so keep spreadin' the word, ya hear! We got ourselves a planet waitin' for us!
t's a little rare, I think, for productions of our size and budget to go the extra mile to produce concept and pre-visualization art for a film. I also think it's incredibly important, and I've found that I've made decisions about the production based on the art we've produced.
I've been very fortunate these past few weeks to work with Richard Makoto Sashigane out of Japan on a series of concept art panels. The script is only 25 minutes long, so we picked eight images that we felt best conveyed the story. Some of them came very easily. Others took more work. Here's an example of the one we wrapped last night. This is the seventh art panel out of eight, so we're at the climax of the story here!
The script here called for a dramatic scene to be played out between our two characters where one of them has imbibed a [redacted] from a small vial and the other has fallen to his knees in a moment of anguish. In the film, the actor may or may not make the choice to go so far as to hit the floor, but for the sake of the concept art, we need to tell the story visually and it really has to drive the performance home. Richard sent me these thumbnails based on the script and I thought they were good, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.
I took the second panel into Photoshop and did a quick edit. Job number one was tilting the camera to convey a sense of unease. Leaving those lines static the way they were in the panels he provided didn't give us enough drama! Second was the distance from the scene. This is a very emotional scene and a crucial moment between these two characters. Putting the camera all the way across the room would divorce us far too much from the emotional impact. We needed to get close. Third, and finally, I wanted to change the position of the camera so that we were behind the man enough so that he overlapped her. The scene is about connection, and about their relationship, so having them appear to be so separate on screen would actually have the opposite effect than what we wanted! I kicked this back over to Richard and gave him some time to get to work.
When Richard came back with this piece, we knew we were getting close, but both of us were bothered by the position of the hand. Luckily, I had asked him to make sure he did all the art of the man on a separate layer so we could change him as needed. Good thing, too!
Here we go! Much closer! The hands-to-the-head is a universal symbol for anguish! Or she could be arresting him and telling him to "assume the position." Luckily, this was an easy fix!
Something as simple as dropping the elbows changed the whole attitude of his reaction here. We were really close. Richard, being the consummate professional and real perfectionist, said, "Actually now coming back to it I can see multitudes of things wrong with this picture. Well mainly the colors, and there's not really any depth to it."
Personally, I thought the piece was already gorgeous. But as an artist myself, I understood where he was coming from, and I saw an opportunity to help tell the story better. This story is set largely on Shadow, one of the rim worlds, and it's got all the Old West charm. But that means a lot of brown. Lots and lots of brown. Nothing but earth tones. The woman in the shot is a Companion, and she represents the Core worlds, and the clash of their cultures is what drives a lot of the conflict in the story. Also? The vial she's letting fall from her hand is a very important prop in the scene and it was getting lost here.
Here were my notes to Richard: "I think if you put her in a blue silk dress it would cure a lot of ills. Just that sudden contrast would give us a focal point and separate her from the background. I think it's better than you think it is. My only real complaint is that the vial is completely lost. It may not help much, but let's get a hard rim light on that vial. Should take you about 8 seconds. Haha!"
And so, eight seconds later...
Seeing this panel completed helped us make wardrobe decisions when we go to shoot. A red or tan dress in this scene doesn't work. We needed a color to contrast with the frontier-like ambiance. It wasn't why we did the concept art to begin with, but it's been a great unexpected benefit!
So what do you think, Browncoats? Isn't it shiny? :)
Crowdfunding for A Faithful Companion, a short film inspired by Firefly is now live!
This nonprofit (tax-deductible) project is currently being crowdfunded. Seeking funding from fans means one very important thing: We can keep it true to the fans. While explosions and gunfire can be fun, it simply can't replace good characters and a solid story. A Faithful Companion chooses the beautiful backdrop of the Morikami Gardens in Delray Beach and the frontier town of Parrish, Florida to tell the story of Calliope and Jeremiah in this short Sci-Fi Western Romance directed by Frank Fradella and produced by Talina Adamo. Actors Katherine Diaz and Ben Paden take the leads in this project is inspired by Joss Whedon's beloved t.v. show Firefly.
A Faithful Companion explores a world in the 'Verse where two people have found themselves in a tough spot: they've found themselves in love. But what does love entail for a Companion whose career it is to satisfy the needs- far from just emotional- of others and for a man on the frontier whose ideas on life and love are simple? While the story is set 500 years in the future, life on the planet of Parrish resembles the old west: a post-war society who are just folks trying to get by every day. It's a far world away from the technological hubs of the inner planets and that's perfectly fine for Jeremiah, a man who lives life plainly and honestly. But when his heart skips a beat for the traveled and experienced Calliope, a Companion visiting Parrish only to see her father, things get a little complicated.
We look forward to seeing you!
If you're an actor, director, producer, or casting director, I imagine you've got a fair handle on the acting process. The rest of you... well, I imagine you only know what you've seen on TV, which no doubt includes a long line of hopefuls clutching tightly to a rolled script, nervously pacing back and forth rehearsing their lines in earshot of dozens of other people who look almost exactly like them doing exactly the same thing.
That's... pretty close, actually. Just not so much pacing.
These two lovely ladies are Talina Adamo, our producer, and Amanda Alvarado, our esteemed Key PA. This was taken the day of our casting, right outside the coffee shop that the actors had to walk through to get to the hallway that would take them to the elevator that would take them to the floor where another hallway awaited. At the end of that very long hallway, there were the offices of Communications Consulting Group, who were graciously allowing us to commandeer their offices for a weekend.
For an actor who probably spent anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to get to that room for a 5 minute audition, that hallways must have felt nerve-wracking indeed.
So here are two truths you should know about casting and filmmaking.
So when an actor comes in (and we saw hundreds that weekend), the first time we see that actor's performance, what we're looking for is:
That's the cold read. If we like what we've seen there or we get a hint that there's something else to be unlocked, I'll give you a few notes and ask you to come back at it again. This is the real test now. Can you take the feedback you've been given and incorporate it seconds later in such a way that transforms the performance into something that makes us move your headshot into the "maybe" pile?
A Faithful Companion received over 1200 audition requests from across the country. A good number of those came in the form of video submissions (including the one from Katherine Diaz!).
One of the perks we're proud to offer is the DVD with exclusive commentary from the cast and crew, as well as bloopers, location scouting videos, and even the actors' casting tapes so you can see what we saw in the casting room. Check it out!