Imagine earth, in the perhaps not-so-distant future, now a lifeless desert wasteland and all humans have escaped the planet to find a new home. After a nuclear holocaust, Robots are now the only inhabitants... except one young girl, left behind and forgotten; on a quest to find any remains of life. If you haven't had a chance to watch the trailers and short film PLUG, David Levy's refreshingly grass-roots sci-fi concept production, then you are missing out. Do you remember what it felt like to watch Star Wars for the first time? I remember being captivated by the believable used universe of Star Wars. It struck chords deep within my imagination because it was so consistent with my own extrapolation of reality. It's the same with PLUG, thanks to the countless hours, over weekends and holidays, that Levy and his team spend converting sprinkler heads into laser blasters, and jet-skies into dune-buggies. It's a return to raw ingenuity in film production and home-spun adventure.
Late in October, 2014, the PLUG short film premiered at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood. There, Levy, his production team, and the cast shared about the 4-year-long process of making the trailers and short. Interestingly, the trailers were filmed sequentially before filming the short, and served as a sandbox for production ideas. Consequently, there's a natural flow in the story from trailer 1 to trailer 2 and then the 18 minute short. Levy shared the initial idea that got the project rolling: "What if this bad-ass girl plugs in an old robot and it comes to life and starts attacking her!" A simple idea, but it grew as he brainstormed it with friends. The story evolved into a complex post-apocalyptic adventure of a girl and her robot friend in search for human life; a story Levy felt he had to turn into a film. The title of the production is both a nod to the original idea and an acronym for Political Logistic Unifying Genome, the film's villainous computer mastermind.
|Production Design panel discussion at the PLUG World Premier, |
Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, CA
From the left: David Levy, Dylan Cole, Ben Procter, Alex Cunningham, and Lex Cassar
Comparing the hyper-realistic style of today's sci-fi with the more fantasy-dominated style of the 70's and 80's, Levy said he wanted to incorporate it all in the look and feel of PLUG. But he specifically wanted that vintage Star Wars, 80's sci-fi style to dominate. In the case of PLUG, the low budget necessitated an old-school style of modding cheap hardware and scrap into props, but actually worked to great effect in achieving that vintage sci-fi look.
Dylan Cole (Prometheus and Maleficent production designer, now on Avatar II with Levy ) commented on how his job at a big studio with a large budget is easy compared to what was done for PLUG. But the downside of a big studio is complex bureaucracy; something the production team for PLUG never had to deal with. Production designers Alex Cunningham and Lex Cassar (who also played Marker in PLUG) talked about how much freedom they enjoyed in the making of PLUG, "We had a lot of control, David [Levy] gave us a lot of trust!" Levy's open-minded approach to the process, treating his actors and production team as collaborators and fellow artists, he believes led to a better production. "At the end of the day we're all story tellers," said Cassar, in his appreciation of Levy's openness to input which enable him to contribute valuable elements to the story.
As a concept artist and art director, Levy talked about how patience is the most valuable skill he's developed through making PLUG. He talked about how he's gained much more insight into the process of film making; designing characters, props, directing actors, visual effects and editing.
PLUG is a pleasure to watch, and knowing the amount of creative effort behind it only makes it better. What impresses me most is that a group of busy professionals, with limited time and resources, invested their best effort in a dream and made something amazing. Clearly David Levy and his team love what they do, and the world of sci-fi is richer for it. Last month, PLUG won the Media category of Script Pipeline's annual contest... So here's to the bright future of an awesome story from some really cool people!
Share what you think of PLUG!
|Concept Art, David Levy, based on Lex Cassar Design|
Lots more cool PLUG stuff here:
Official Website: Short Film, and trailers
World Premiere Event 2014 - Gnomon
Note: all photos taken by Carl Erickson, 10/25/2014, used here with the permission of David Levy