(BTS) Producing the Sci-Fi Short Film – Arene

In 2015 I had the pleasure to produce an ambitious sci-fi project – Arene. Below is an interview I gave to Luisa Pascu, where I share details about the production.

Myself on set of Arene  / Photography Simon Falkentorp ©

What is story behind the Sci-Fi short film – Arene, and what was it inspired by?

I will take the liberty to elaborate on the story, which was written by the director Henrik Bjerregaard Clausen. ARENE takes place in the distant post-apocalyptic future. Times of war between the humans and the AI machines. Contrary to most other Sci-Fi movies, it’s a war that we humans started, in an effort to protect ourselves against the technologically advanced and superior machines, that have evolved at a rapid speed, and would eventually turn against us and take over. Attempting to destroy them, humans use a new generation weapon technology, which unfortunately doesn’t work as planned and we manage to partially destroy the atmosphere.

Post-apocalyptic New York

Arene herself is a first one of a kind hybrid naturally evolved through a unity between a human being and a machine. Henrik always likes to create new worlds within the realm of Sci-Fi inspired by the classics.Katarina Strahinic in the role of Arene. 

What was your role and involvement in this project?

I joined the project as a producer. So I had to manage the production and make sure Henrik’s creative vision comes to life to highest possible extent. That includes –  bringing the best people on board, handling the financials, planning, organizing and making sure everyone on the team delivers within the estimated time and budget.

20150929-_DSC7448 (2)On Set, keeping track of time / Photography Simon Falkentorp ©

It is much easier to have this role when you have a team of A-players, and we had the opportunity to work with great performers in each department.

How did you and Henrik (the director) come together into play, and how did that work?

Henrik and I had previously worked together on our company ident film – Magic Unleashed and the short film Lucid. Afterwards he invited me to join him on this project as well. What I love most about working with him is that he’s very ambitious and has a clear vision of what he wants.Henrik and I, discussing the next shot / Photography Simon Falkentorp ©

He would challenge the whole team to deliver to the highest of their potential. He’s very structured and organised, and that’s of course great news for any producer. I think he will reach very far as a director.

We all know that ups and downs occur during the hard work for a project. Can you tell about a king-of-the-world moment and about a scary one?

There were so many king-of-the-world moments. You have to be on set to feel it – the dedication of the crew and cast to deliver an amazing work. Everybody jumping and helping each other. It was a very tight schedule, and seeing all these guys staying positive and inspired during the long hours was a good feeling. And that is of course reflected in the end product.Outdoor Scene / Photography Simon Falkentorp ©

As in every journey of course we had our lows.  For example – to recreate the atmosphere in the interior we were using hazers and smoke. We turned on the fire alarm by accident and that triggered a fire brigade visit. Fortunately everything went well at the end.

Has there been any breakthrough moment during the making of this short film, and how did that shape the project?

Constructing the set and incorporating the lighting on it have definitely been a major breakthrough. And here I would like to mention our production designer Lyuba Halacheva and the lighting designer Torsten Frøstrup, who literally blew our minds off. Lyuba, together with a large group of helpers had only 20 days to construct the set.Constructing the Set / Photography Simon Falkentorp ©

And Torsten brought and installed a whole lighting system that he embedded into the construction allowing him to control it throughout the whole production.Lighting Designer Torsten (in the middle) / Photography Simon Falkentorp ©

I remember the actor/stuntman Isky Fay when he first saw the set and told me “Wow, that set looks like on The Edge of Tomorrow, where he had previously had a part.

Where are you headed to, both personally and on behalf of Level Up Pictures?

At Level Up Pictures we want to do more and more exciting productions. To challenge the creative status quo, to innovate and create great products for digital storytelling. Our mission is to build a powerful culture of passionate and skilled professionals who work, grow and share skills, knowledge and inspiration.

20150927-_DSC5636-2 (2)Photography Simon Falkentorp ©

I am personally very keen on discovering and hacking new realms such as VR/AR. How do we use them to create engaging and immersive experiences and satisfy the audience’s hunger for innovation? That’s exciting!

What are your future plans for the short film Arene?

So far the trailer you see is the end product – but the there is the whole backstory for a potential feature film, developed by the director – so that could of course be a next step.

20150928-_DSC6760Stunt performers getting ready for a scene / Photography Simon Falkentorp ©

ARENE is a special project as it is a collaboration with 3D College Denmark. It is an ambitious short film including a lot of strong professionals in the crew and cast. And then there are students from the school, who joined the production as a school project and were allocated various post-production tasks guided by a VFX supervisor.

For now I can only say HUGE THANKS to the whole team being part of the production of this short film – Henrik B. Clausen, VideoLab.dk, Stunt360 and all the amazing crew and cast members.