In 2017, the writer and director of District 9 and Chappie, Neill Blomkamp, launched Oats Studios, a production company designed to experiment with new ways of developing projects ranging from CGI short films to concepts of longer stories that could eventually become projects. of feature film. Now he has announced his plans to turn one of those shorter films, Firebase, into a much bigger project, and wants fans to fund it.
Blomkamp told The Verge that just as he designed the studio to experiment with stories, he also hopes to experiment with the relationship he and Oats have with the fans, "trying to establish a situation in which [fans] fuels our ability to continue doing things, and it only has this one-on-one relationship with the audience. "
To that end, he says he wants to crowdfund a sequel to Firebase, scaling the length and reach of the movie based on how much the campaign goes up. Oats is not going through familiar crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo: fans can contribute directly to the project through the studio's website.
It is also avoiding some of the traditional accessories of crowdfunding campaigns, such as the advantages of sponsors, which it calls a "distraction". Fans can expect all of their money to go to the next version of Firebase, instead of contribution awards like shirts or stickers. . (Oats sells some products on its website). "Culture [of crowdfunding] is like," Yes, I want the product, but I also want all these different items ", and none of those dollars goes to the product you say you want," he says. "If you like what we are doing, fund us to do more."
Instead, Blomkamp says donors will have early access to the film and behind-the-scenes videos, in addition to their names in the credits, and a PDF of the project's conceptual art. If the project works extremely well, the study will take a fan to the set to be an extra in the project.
The original projects of Firebase and Oats, Rakka and Zygote, are not complete films: they are polished proof-of-concept films that explain the broader strokes of the worlds that Blomkamp and his team have created. Rakka is a series of scenes that detail an alien invasion and the efforts of humanity to repel the invaders. Firebase is a collection of scenes that explain the world and the central character. Zygote is the simplest of all: playing the climax of a much bigger story. Those short films appeared under the title "Volume 1" on YouTube and Steam. Blomkamp says that Oats wants to work on the projects in Volume 2, and that a project, LIMA, is still ready for launch. but the sequel to Firebase is currently Oats's first priority.
Blomkamp told The Verge that he developed the Firebase story after becoming interested in the idea that our existence is really a great simulation. In the short film by Firebase, American soldiers in Vietnam face a horrible creature that seems to defy the laws of nature. The creature, known as The River God, is a construction that gets out of control, and the universe essentially generates an "antivirus program" in the form of a soldier, to try to contain the threat. Blomkamp says he has written a feature film script for this sequel to Firebase. "It's extremely clear in terms of history," he says, but the challenge is to raise the money to do it. "The question is the reverse engineering of the correct length or, hopefully, the enough increase to make the whole film." Visualize the production budget at around $ 30 million, at the baseball stadium in District 9.
That goal is a difficult task for Oats. The largest film crowdfunding campaigns so far were for Veronica Mars 2013 and a rebirth of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which raised $ 5.7 million each through Kickstarter. Since last year, Oats has accumulated tens of millions of YouTube views for its various projects, and has developed loyal followers online, but that may not translate into millions of dollars in donations. On the project website, he writes that if the campaign raises $ 40, Oats will shoot a video of cats in the world of Firebase, while if they raise $ 100 million, they will record a trilogy of feature films. The campaign will be live for 30 days, after which Blomkamp and the studio will determine the scale of the project and go into production.
Oats also sells downloadable content from its original films through Steam, and Blomkamp says some of those gains will likely complement what fans donate to Firebase. But he says that the Steam initiative was more an experiment aimed at a "very specific subgroup" of fans of film production. This new campaign is designed to attract a wider audience of online viewers.
Blomkamp says there has been some interest from traditional Hollywood studios since Oats's movies went online last year, but he's more interested in continuing the unconventional studio approach. That "does not mean I do not want to work in Hollywood," he explained. "There are projects that I'm working on right now." But I see myself divided between the ambitious and risky thing that is Oats, and also make films that are exhibited in cinemas. "He says that he would prefer that Oats manages everything under one roof, from production to digital effects for its release. self-sufficient ecosystem of creative production ".