behind the scenes at StrangewerksFilms


Lifeform Trailer is Here! (So is the official film site…)

Screen shot 2017-04-08 at 9.07.33 PMIt’s been a little bit, but here I am to announce the brand new trailer for Lifeform, as well as the official film website for our new horror film. Yay!

Please, if you haven’t already, check out the site. You can also sign up in order to stay informed about where to view the film when we finally navigate the crazy world of film distribution and hopefully don’t get taken for all we own in the process of said navigation! (Have I said too much?) Thanks ahead of time for signing up!!!

At any rate, I think we’ll share with you while we make this journey, for your edification and our own.  To whit: for those who want to learn how to get their film distributed, read on…

The first thing we did was set up the official web site so that potential distributors would have a location they could check out to learn a little about the film, have the opportunity to see the trailer and learn how to contact our company so they could see a screener of the film. A screener is basically a copy of the film that is set up with some type of “copyright protection” on it so that they can watch it and see if they’d be interested in (hopefully) purchasing the film, or (probably) representing it to actual distributors in the U.S. and territories outside the U.S.  The copyright protection is basically the words “Property of Strangewerks Films” popping up on the screen every few minutes, so that if some lunkhead in Bangladesh manages to somehow download the film (it’s password protected) he’ll have the annoying words mucking it up. Used to be, you would send actual DVDS out all over the world to try and get people to look at it. Thank God I don’t have to do that anymore, was that a pain!

After this was done, I began the very long process of researching companies on the web to see who might be my target audience–companies that might like to distribute indie horror films–and who in that company, usually someone in “acquisitions”, would be my intended contact person.

You can do a search on “horror films,” terms like that and it may lead you to a blog where somebody has posted a list of horror film distributors. This has proved fruitful. So has iMDB Pro. It’s a great tool for getting email addresses and contact people. However, many times it’s not up to date. Don’t be afraid to extrapolate an address, based on the email info on iMDB. Try adding “acquisitions” @blah blah–sometimes it will work.

I think it’s just a matter of emailing as many of these companies as you possibly can. Don’t be afraid to hit them all really. You never know who has a subdivision that does lower profile films. (They might not want to post them on iMDB Pro, only their big studio pictures–the cowards!)

You’ll definitely get acquisitions people contacting you for the link to your screener. I’ve received quite a number of requests so far and I’ll let you know how it goes. Later!


Tentacle Hand From Hell!

So okay, genetic manipulation is bad. Don’t take my friggin’ word for it. Just see for yourself:



Here’s some pics of the Ethan Monster’s gnarled tentacle hand from the film Lifeform…

Basically, it’s a silicone glove the performer slips on. There’s a wire inside the tentacle to help it hold whatever positions we put it into. (Mostly strangling people.)

Below are a couple of in-production pics for the tentacle. The first one shows us filling the hollow latex tentacle with Smooth-On FlexFoam-It. Very messy process, but it was a lot of fun watching it foam out of the pour hole.


Below is the finished silicone tentacle, removed from its mold. You can see the foam filling coming out the back


After this we attached it to the silicone glove at the joint we molded into the glove. Then it was painted with FuseFX platinum silicone paint and Psycho Paint. It was a blast being able to cut loose and be creative with the makeup. Nobody really does practical monster makeup for features, or so it seems these days.


Just one of the many crazy monster makeups we did for the shoot! (Actors Ree Merrill and Adam Cerny goofing around on set with aforementioned tentacle…)

Mutated Monster Face…


Now that our horror feature film Lifeform is about to be released, I thought it would be cool to show some of the many horror special effects makeups we created for it. (Too many if you ask my wife!)

We figured we’d have at least two creatures in the film–one is the main creature played by Virginia Logan and the other is the son of the villain, who is played by Adam Cerny. For him, we thought we’d have some crazy face mutation as well as a mutated monster hand. In this piece, we’ll show some of the steps involved in creating the face prothetic.

Here’s a shot of the face sculpture, you can see where we tried to work some tentacles in. Everyone knows tentacles are what’s best in life, after laying wasted to your enemies, listening to the lamentations of their girlfriends, etc. etc.




After sculpting it, I had Anthony Jones cast it in Rebound from Smooth-On and make the mother mold for it.  Then he casted the piece in silicone, also from Smooth-On. Don’t remember which one. He did a great job. All the details were perfectly transferred to the piece.

After that, Christine painted it with silicone paint. She’s an artist, so of course she did a smashing job of bringing out the fine details (and she has not coerced my admiration for her work in any way!)

Here it is on Adam. He did a great job of acting out the part of a mutant freak! Though he really doesn’t look that happy, in fact he looks a little annoyed. The things you have to do for showbiz…


The top shot is from the film set…looks pretty awesome especially with creature contacts. He gets to strangle people with his mutant tentacle hand too, a pretty standard horror movie convention, but still delicious!


The official trailer for our 2017 horror film “Lifeform” will be dropping next month, along with the official site for the film. “Lifeform” will be available for distributors to pick up at that time as well. We are very excited! (Hopefully you are too. If not, I will personally come over and tap dance for you. Or sing. Depends on my mood.) beauty-is-a-beast1

Giving Life to Lifeform…

We’re in the midst of creating 3D animations for our film Lifeform. The software we chose was Blender–a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software product used for creating visual effects. Here at our studio we’re doing the animation, lighting and compositing. Modeling and rigging were handled by talented Blender vets Kevin Hayes and Nathan Taylor, respectively. At last count there were forty–odd (and we do mean odd) 3D fx shots in the film, which, while it doesn’t sound like a lot, is a HUGE amount of work, not to mention render time. Currently we’re averaging a day-and-a-half to two days of render time per shot, so you can imagine how long it’s taking to wade through the list. Still, it’s worth it when you see the results…   One of the more interesting facts is that you actually output the animation as a series of still images, .pngs, which you then import into Aftereffects, in order to create an entire animation, who’d have figured that? When we designed the actual creature, I was looking to invest attributes from actual creatures in nature, in order to give it a more authentic feel. Some dinosaur plating here, some praying mantis there, a scorpion tail over here… Now we’re trying to emulate some of the physical movements these creatures make in the real world to bring the illusion home.

One tip I would give to any fledgling animators: don’t forget to use the animation curves to smooth out the model’s movements. You can use the bezier tools to make them less “roller-coaster” like–some of mine were looking like the Cyclone at Coney Island before I smoothed them out!
The goal is to finish all the 3D shots in the next few months and then on to color correcting and sound mix! Ugh…

Here’s an effects clip from Lifeform that features Virginia Logan. She looks chilling in this clip! Good job Virginia!

We’re hard at work creating a whole lot of Blender creature effects for the film, just like the multi-tentacle effect here, in addition to a ton of AfterEffects work by some talented people. The goal is to be finished with post within the next three months so we can get started on even more macabre madness!

Mutant Monster Tentacle Attack Scene!

Presented for your edification: a partially completed tentacle attack scene featuring Virginia Logan suddenly sprouting mutant monster tentacles from out of her back and molesting attacking Peter Alexandrou–and who can blame her really? It was a long day on set, afterall. Everyone was cranky!

Actually, we’ve been using Blender to create 3D animated tentacles for these shots. Then we bring them into AfterEffects and combine them with a matte created in Mocha (sounds like we’re making boozy drinks here!) and, voila: instant monster tentacles! Actually, it’s not that instantaneous, but it’s very gratifying to see one’s vision of tentacular (is that a real word?) homicide come to life before one’s eyes.

We combined the computer tentacles with some practical ones on set. For these, we actually had to do reverse shots, which involved wrapping the silicone prop tentacle (made from Smooth-On’s Dragon Skin silicone product) around the actor’s wrists or ankles, greasing them up with KY (who says sets are no fun?) and pulling them off while filming. Then in Final Cut Pro, we reversed these shots so they looked like the tentacles were wrapping around his limbs. I was pleased with how seemless these shots turned out.

What do you think?

tentacle test from Brian Schiavo on Vimeo.