The Splinter Cell - An Atomic Fanfilm

Andrew
Andrew Posts: 379 Enthusiast
edited August 2014 in Practical Filmmaking
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Hey all, today I wanted to share with you guys our latest effort- a Splinter Cell-inspired fanfilm we've titled the somewhat popular-at-the-moment 'The Splinter Cell'. It's part origin story, part prequel, part open-ended sequel, part reboot. Below is the first image from our production shoot- which we're currently in the middle of and began a few days ago.


 


As what likely anyone from the original FXhome community or forums will remember, Splinter Cell was initially a project we began and worked at great lengths on almost a decade ago that helped usher in a more serious and concentrated effort in film for both myself as a filmmaker and Atomic as a team.
Here are a few behind-the-scenes of production, for those interested.
 

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We've been working and preparing production the past several weeks off-and-on, recruiting actors, training, and scouting locations- and are extremely pleased with how everything has gone thus far. As we stated on the Atomic Facebook page earlier this week:

 

Nine years ago we started working on a short dramatic action Splinter Cell fanfilm we called 'The Gorsky Assignment'. The script was 23 pages, the vision was grand (and essentially unattainable), and the production values- at the time- were the highest we'd ever attempted or achieved.


Though we had been kicking around with cameras and editing stuff for years prior, the short marked what we all at Atomic consider to be the seminal work that galvanized who we were, what we stood for, and our great leap to be taken more-seriously both as filmmakers and purveyors cool, entertaining content.
The era was pre-YouTube, pre-social media- but drew a fanbase and online audience nonetheless. And, perhaps for the first time ever, gave us all some sort of measurable validation as filmmakers. A sense of meaning and excitement.
Our Splinter Cell project, long forgotten and abandoned for being too grand, too difficult, too expensive- helped make us who we were. Kickstarted what we would later become. And embody what we continue to strive for.
And it is for this reason that on the anniversary of the start of that fateful production, almost down to the exact same day 9 years ago, we enter production on it again. Rebooted. Restructured. Shorter and more visceral. No longer just 'kids with guns' running around on-camera. Something more serious, and in turn, something we're very excited to show you all.
Below you can see a clip from the first sequence and first day of our original short from the summer of 2005.

 


Anyway, just wanted to share with you guys, for anyone interested!
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UPDATE:
Hey all- just wanted to inform that we've wrapped production and are in the process of editing, grading, VFX, scoring, and all the rest that post-production entails. Though it was a difficult and hard-fought process of grueling un-air-conditioned warehouse nights in 110+ degree heat, we're really happy with all the footage, staging, performances, and experience of the whole shoot- and excited to show you all how it turned out. Below is the 'wrap' bumper image/banner also put on our Atomic Facebook page  (http://www.facebook.com/atomicpro) and a set of character images of real-life incarnations from the game that we've featured in the promotional materials for the short.
 

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Really happy with how it all is turning out- check it out all whenever you have a chance and let me and Ben know your thoughts!
We'll be working on this off-and-on in our open and non-commercial time over the next few weeks, with a teaser soon to follow this image release and a small bit of marketing before ultimately premiering the final short, likely within the next month or so. Stay tuned!
 


UPDATE:
Official poster released.

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UPDATE: Release date announced for August of this year.
 

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Comments

  • OrangePekoe
    OrangePekoe Posts: 478
    This!  Is something I'm really excited for!  Having watched a few of your other pieces, the stories, the pacing, the cinematography and most of all your execution - it is very exciting to see your next project venture into the gaming universe. 
    I'm very curious how this will turn out and will be keeping a keen eye on updates ;)
    Side note:  I did something very similar when I was building a prop Splinter Cell Nightvision piece. 
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    edited June 2014
    I remember when I joined FxHome back in 07, I heard a bit about the lost splinter cell short. By that time, I'm sure it was less important, but nonetheless it stuck with me all this time, and now am very excited to see what this will be.  I'll be keeping my eyes out for any updates! Looks great so far.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    This had better get finished. ;)
    Seriously - looking forward to it.
  • RodyPolis
    RodyPolis Posts: 612 Just Starting Out*
    What happened to that superhero project you guys were working on? Was that project canceled?
  • Ben
    Ben Posts: 51
    edited June 2014
    Hey guys,
    Happy to see people are excited about this project! We're certainly excited to present it to you guys once it's completed. To speak about our other endeavors, which either are incomplete or yet-to-be-seen:
    As you all know, it's tough to get passion projects completed. Andrew and I have always prided ourselves on our ability to turn around content quickly. This has been -- and likely always will be -- the hallmark of our work, coupled with a persistent visual style.
    But for larger projects we usually aim high; which makes it difficult to wrangle resources to finish everything nicely. As in, once we're started on a big project (or anything longer than a few days) we like any new content we add to it to match the quality level of what we've already shot/produced for it. In 24 hour contests, or shorter-form films, this is easy to keep an eye on. For bigger projects, this can be tough sometimes, because the available dates to shoot pickups, record ADR, etc can be hasty or nonexistent. Consequently, we find ourselves 'holding on' to certain projects with 99% of the resources already together, just to get that 1%.
    In the case of Hero Story (and, by extension, the short film 'Hermanos', which we also shot last year) we've had all the resources together for some time now, certain things have just held up its being published -- namely, festival entries which preclude its presence online. When/if we decide to distribute it online via our YouTube or something similar, we probably want to beef it up even more so that the reward we get from people watching it is even greater.
    Another thing to consider is that Andrew and I work together full-time on Atomic Productions as a company, and we often have disagreements or conflicts regarding projects for passion and pay. I think that our technical and creative quality really shows through in the things we do embark on, but often the biggest step for us as a company (and as brothers) is just agreeing to do the project in the first place; and aligning our mutual vision and goals so that the project may succeed.
    On some projects, we have very different visions for the production or the end product, and so one of us will take helm of the project while the other steps in to 'help'. I stepped in to 'help' with Hero Story whilst Andrew single-handedly produced and directed, while Andrew did the same thing with me on 'Hermanos'. To this end, these projects have to be sidetracked for anything we 'partner up' on to handle equally. In this case, lots of commercial work (which helps pay the bills here in Austin), some work through our agent in LA, and our most recent Splinter Cell project.
    I was, to be frank, reluctant to start another SC project especially with lots of other creative and commercial obligations this summer. But Andrew and I sat down last week and decided that we were actually going to do it, and commit to doing it -- and so that's why I think it will succeed. We pulled two back-to-back all-nighters with our shooting earlier this week in Dallas, which netted us about 90% of the footage we need for the whole short film. With this in mind, and our mutual understanding of how the project needs to develop, I'm confident we'll have a result to show you guys very soon.
    We have some existing commitments through the beginning of July and will be out of the country for most of then, but once we get back, I wouldn't be surprised if we launched the film immediately.
    There's always something enchanting about bigger projects. The notion of a project still having ambiguity and factors unknown is exciting because it always feels like the project is something you yourself don't quite have unriddled. There's a mystique to it. But often, those projects remain unfinished for one reason or another. With this Splinter Cell, we're hoping to do what we do best -- get it done quickly, get it done right, and make it look good.
    I decided to wax poetic and philosophical a bit with this post, but with my paltry few posts on these boards in recent years, I suppose I was due. :D
  • HybridHalo
    HybridHalo Posts: 57 Enthusiast
    Hahaha! I honestly cannot believe it! FINALLY!!!
  • Andrew
    Andrew Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    Hey all- just wanted to inform that we've wrapped production and are in the process of editing, grading, VFX, scoring, and all the rest that post-production entails. Though it was a difficult and hard-fought process of grueling un-air-conditioned warehouse nights in 110+ degree heat, we're really happy with all the footage, staging, performances, and experience of the whole shoot- and excited to show you all how it turned out. Below is the 'wrap' bumper image/banner also put on our Atomic Facebook page  (http://www.facebook.com/atomicpro) and a set of character images of real-life incarnations from the game that we've featured in the promotional materials for the short.

    piccollection2.png


    Really happy with how it all is turning out- check it out all whenever you have a chance and let me and Ben know your thoughts!


    sccharacterfisher.png
    sccharactermerrick.png
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    We'll be working on this off-and-on in our open and non-commercial time over the next few weeks, with a teaser soon to follow this image release and a small bit of marketing before ultimately premiering the final short, likely within the next month or so. Stay tuned!

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,595 Ambassador
    If the film grade you're going for is like what you did for the teaser images, you're going to have a gorgeous film on your hands! Looking forward to it!
  • KirstieT
    KirstieT Posts: 1,192 Staff
    Jeez - if the pictures are anything to go by, this is going to be one hell of a production! :) 
    I really look forward to seeing this!
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    One thing that's going in your favour is that you're all adults now. Your earlier work all had that slightly tricky blend of being 'serious filmmaking', but with kids playing as adults (rather than playing to your actual ages). So it's actually pretty exciting in itself to see you working with age-appropriate actors, as well as seeing your regular company now old enough to play much more diverse roles.
    As Triem says, loving the lighting and general look of the thing.
  • Andrew
    Andrew Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited June 2014
    Thanks, guys! I appreciate such a warm response.
    Though it's just a small passion project that will amount to only a handful of minutes in the final short, Splinter Cell is a labor of love that's very close to me- and I'm really happy we were able to bring it to fruition and power through it all and complete principal photography. To know we're over most of the way through and see the end of it with something to put out there- it's a cool feeling. With Splinter Cell, at least.
    Here's the teaser trailer, which I just released this afternoon. Check it out- and be sure to rate, comment, and share with others if you're inclined to do so- we'd all greatly appreciate it! Check it!

  • Ben
    Ben Posts: 51
    Well, I hate to be the person to just 'bump' topics for no good reason, but I can't help it here -- check out the teaser above! I would say it's probably (one of) the coolest things we've ever released, in about 12 years of being active in FXHome-dom.
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,595 Ambassador
    Well. That's moody and gripping as hell.
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    This gets me pretty pumped. Sound design for this trailer was right on with modern action movies, but don't get me wrong, I don' think it felt cliche, but rather somehow more "legit" because of it. The colors and tone of the teaser is right on with what I'd expect from a Splinter Cell film. With that I'd say the only thing I didn't like, was that the lens flare at the end didn't match up with the goggles, but now I'm just being picky. Very well done and very excited about the release of this Splinter Cell short.
  • Darren
    Darren Maui, HawaiiPosts: 164 Enthusiast
    I really like it.  Age appropriate characters and the mood and lighting IS what Splinter Cell always was.
  • Andrew
    Andrew Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited June 2014
    Thanks a bunch, guys. We're working hard to get it off the ground in the most-professional and appropriate way. As is the case with all our stuff- marketing and presentation is crucially important to Ben and I, so we'll be ramping through a bit more promotional material as the short is scored, edited, and VFX are completed throughout July.
    And Matthias, I actually think somewhere in that mix from my archives of saved sound effects there were a few of your fight sfx you put on here a few years back. One of them, a swish of leather I think, is actually even in the teaser itself (among like 15 other audio tracks with hundreds of other sounds, but still). Thanks, man. Just thought about that.
    For now, here's the official poster, which ties in to the overall theme of both the teaser trailer and the full short itself:

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  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    Wow... That sound effects pack went to good use? Glad to hear it!
    Teaser poster looks great! Did you use some sort of crinkled paper texture/graphic as an overlay? The overall style and tone of the poster seems to fit the teaser. From what I've seen so far, the film looks to meet or exceed the quality I'm used to seeing from you guys.
  • Andrew
    Andrew Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    There are several overlays on the poster, yeah. A classic 'movie poster folded creases' overlay, a glossy paper texture, a crumpled texture, a green grid overlay, and a dirt and smudge texture over all of that as well. Just a whole host of things to really give it that artfully worn-in, disheveled look.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    Awesome and packed full of style, without really giving any thing away or spoiling individual moments. In other words, exactly what a teaser should be.
  • Andrew
    Andrew Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited July 2014
    Thanks, Simon.
    Kotaku.com just did a nice little write-up on the teaser, which is cool. It's currently on their front page. And they made this fun little gif for it, too.
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  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,595 Ambassador
    Thanks, Simon.
    Kotaku.com just did a nice little write-up on the teaser, which is cool. It's currently on their front page.


    Congratulations! That's good coverage, and should bring you a lot of views!
     

  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    Awesome. Kotaku are pretty good at covering indie fan projects like that. They mentioned both Extraction Protocol and Temporary Status back in the day, which got us a fair boost in views. What are the commenters like so far? Kotaku's community can be....intense. :)
  • Can you update your "fake beard" tutorial from the first Splinter Cell BTS thread? Your guys' beard skills have improved markedly since then...looks pretty damn realistic now.
  • Ben
    Ben Posts: 51
    The tutorial is pretty simple now:
    Be born male. Wait 9 years from age 15 until you reach age 24. Use beard trimmer to cut stubble to right length. Shoot short film.
  • KirstieT
    KirstieT Posts: 1,192 Staff
    The poster is really exciting, as is the teaser trailer. Nice and moody with intriguing music and gripping scene flashes - everything you want in a trailer!
  • TimLan635
    TimLan635 Posts: 48 Enthusiast
    Having followed the old fxhome forums for many years, the Adams brothers -- even in high school -- have always been standouts in bringing the whole package: the film itself, of course, but also a trailer, various posters for the product, promotional posts, etc.  They were always kind of cocky (perhaps the "A" brother more than the "B" brother, right?), but generally produced a product to back up the talk. 
    Crushed-blacks-with-a-green-tint is kind of a signature look, but they've always shown a commitment to doing it right in all phases: pre-production, production, post-production, and promotion.  Of all the "young" filmmakers I've watched grow up on fxhome, I've always felt that "Atom" and "Ben3308" were most likely to make a name for themselves -- to end up in the credits of "real," Hollywood films. 
    (Yes, I know there are others from the fxhome era who are working in VFX houses right now, and end up in the credits -- I mean no disrespect...)

  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    This brings up an interesting question I've had for a while. How many of us here actually want to make it into the "hollywood world"? I personally like planning, shooting, and editing equally and am not sure I'd want to work on a "big budget" film where I was a little cog in a big machine and had to give up creative control of my projects. Is it the goal to make it into hollywood?
  • Ben
    Ben Posts: 51
    Thanks for the kind words, Tim, always appreciated. I take it you're TimL from the previous forums?
    And Matthias, while Andrew and I have always wanted to 'do our own thing', at the highest level that can be limiting because of a lack of resources. While we're not keen on getting PA jobs at Warner Bros. (like friends of ours have) we would indeed like to work for/with a studio that can offer us sponsorship, mentorship, distribution, and a bunch more resources. Ideally, we would try and maintain a fair amount of our own creative autonomy, but we're well aware of the sacrifices in creative control that sometimes have to be made to get 'Hollywood' projects off the ground.
    While the 'cog in the machine' trope is true for most, and it's sort of foolish to think oneself as an exception to a rule, Andrew and I look up to those filmmakers who have broken through the normal 'Hollywood' barriers with their own voice and vision; and therein get support from the studios, rather than a lack of control.
    We've had a real testy journey since August 2010 with who we make content for and on what principles. Our viral content was popular, and set off a bunch of press and work for us -- but we were reluctant to get bogged down into YouTube-specific culture, so we never adequately capitalized on that frenzy. Even so, we've 'climbed the ladder' a fair amount since entering college in 2008, and we'll see where we end up.
    On a slightly-related note, our teaser has now been featured over at two other prominent gaming blogs: GameRant (the gaming sister site of ScreenRant, who has kindly featured other projects of ours in the past) and GameBreaker.
    Hopefully we can spread the project and its promotional materials to even more people so that our name can 'get out there' to the higher-ups, wherever they may be.
  • TimLan635
    TimLan635 Posts: 48 Enthusiast
    @Ben -- Yep, TimL from the fxhome forums.  My only notable claim to fame there was that I was practically the oldest guy there -- except Devlin had me beat by a decade or two.  (And I'm even older now...)
    And maybe "Hollywood" wasn't a proper way to word what I meant, but I guess I maybe won't be too surprised to see the phrase "filmmakers Andrew and Ben Adams" in the media someday.  (Sorry, Ben, "Andrew" will probably always get first billing, just because it rolls off the tongue better that way.)
    Your and Adam's posts, there and here, are generally very well composed, well thought out.  And when I say I think you'll make a name for yourselves, it's because you will make a name for yourselves.  You guys recognize the promotion part of the deal.  Even though self-promotion can sometimes feel a little "dirty" to most people, you guys see its necessity, and perhaps even relish that part of filmmaking.  So, good luck to you.  And congrats on another project that isn't alcohol-related.
     

  • Andrew
    Andrew Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    Well, thanks TimL. Appreciate the kind words.
    And yes, there is no doubt of the two of us- I was/am/likely always will be the more vocal, cocky representation of mine and Ben's duo. But hey, that's just my angle. ;)