Dec 9, 2014
“The Flying Rock” is a Sci-Fi TV-series like you’ve never seen before.
We’ve been working on this “mini-blockbuster” for two years:
The universe, the scenarios, the crew, everything is ready to make it happen.
Help us to shoot the first episodes!
“The Flying Rock” is a science-fiction series of 10 episodes. Everything happens in a bar, on top of an asteroid.
You know that image of the 1950’s diner nested on top of an asteroid, drifting in space – that’s a science-fiction classic. But... actually, there are no movies, nor TV-series about that bar! Too bad - I really would like to go up there and have a drink, just to see who’s hanging out in a place like this…
The project began two years ago when we realized that this bar was an amazing excuse to shoot some very nice, very high quality science-fiction on a reasonable budget: no need to leave the bar – we show the exterior establishing shot once at the beginning of each episode, and then, everything happens in one set only. Then, since we’ve got only one set, we do have the means to make it perfect; to do something beautiful, with incredible production design, nice lighting, well-crafted costumes and accessories… A real blockbuster uses dozen of different sets, hundreds of extras, etc… we don’t have the means to do that – but doing perfectly only one set, yes, we can do that!
The Flying Rock is a French project (English subtitles will be available), and the French do have a tradition of high-quality cinema on a budget, with amazing actors and an original way to handle the graphic part. But French cinema is usually unable to handle science-fiction properly, mainly because of budget. Here, the idea is to solve the budget problem by using only one set and very few CGI FX – we will concentrate on characters, action, dialogues… the story! The idea is “by being smart and keeping things small and simple, let’s make make a science-fiction TV-series that looks cool, neat, Hollywood-grade – with an exotic touch.”
So we worked to write a short TV-series (10 episodes of 13min each) that would feel like an action/adventure movie, but without leaving the bar: we wanted real characters living in a cool and dark universe, we wanted well-crafted gunfights & brawls, we wanted practical, eye-candy FX, we wanted a story that seems simple but suddenly turn out to be epic…
And we think we’ve got it!
The show is in live –action (not animation nor CGI), with real actors on a real set.
The team (only TV or cinema working professionals) spent about a year on the scenarios to build something original and cool, plus another year in pre-production to find the right partners: soundstage, equipment, construction crew, plus meeting with broadcasters, drawing the story-boards… during that period, we made a video-blog (in French) that follows the various aspects of the pre-production of the series!
You’ll find below a few pictures of the preparation of the series: working on the parking of the studio to build elements of the set; some first drafts of the concept arts, the first concept art, the work to design the set, some pictures of the studio, and then the virtual re-building of the studio in CGI to allow a very precise pre-visualization of the films (story-boards); the floor plan of the bar in CGI, location of the green screens, a few tests with firearms to see how the cameras react to muzzle flashs in complete darkness, etc…
Above, you’ll find the graphic file presenting the project. You’ll also find there the plots of each of the 10 episodes (in French). Beware: spoilers!
Also more info on how the scenarios were written below, in the “Techniques d’écriture” video of the blog – you’ll find it in the “The Blog” part of this page (also in French…).
Note: “The Flying Rock” is a Writers’ Guild of America-registered work (no 1746817).
"The Flying Rock" is a bar nestled on top of an asteroid drifting in space - a joint for space sailors in a far away future.
Wes, 50-something, rough and tough with an easy smile, is the bartender.
Daily, he faces brawls, holdups, drunks, poker games and police raids with calm and humor. But he carries within him a mysterious, violent, and epic past.
One night, that past enters the bar and orders a whisky...
You’ll find a complete chronology of the universe of “The Flying Rock” in the French version of this page, but to make a long story short(er):
In 1962, the Cuban missiles crisis went wrong – there was a “nuclear exchange”: the USSR ignored the Cuba blocus, forcing the US to wipe out Cuba. New York and Leningrad were immediately destroyed by nuclear fire, before a military coup overthrow power in the USSR, ending immediately the communist area and the beginning of a nuclear World War Three.
The fear of radiations and the massive arrival of Russian scientists in the US pushed Humanity in a crazy race for Space. The European Union unifies in a coherent, military-capable confederation.
In 2020, the Moon and Mars are seriously colonized – massive amounts of migrants are going to “the new frontier” to search for a better life. New technologies like NERVA engines allow faster travel inside the solar system, and some satellites like Titan are new potential lands.
The Europeans, at the CERN laboratory, design a new terryfing weapon, the “Quantum splitter” – and their diplomacy becomes more aggressive. But the weapon is stealed a few years later by unidentified spies.
2034: Earth is split into two “Vestiges” by a Quantum Splitter shot, fired from the Moon by the neo-soviet Cubans of the Mad President Miguel Cabrera – they’ve got their terrible vengeance at last, 72 years after the destruction of Cuba. 6 billions dies - less than 100.000 are saved by “Operation Noah”.
Humanity is now a nomadic people, without a planet they can call home. And its technology do not allows it to leave the solar system, where millions of debris of the Earth drift.
In 2037, President Cabrera suicides, just before being finally catched by the Americans.
Fifteen years later, the neo-soviets seize power in the territories controlled by the Russians: almost a century after its collapse, the USSR is back in the game…
Around 2070, Cuban refugees (who have been suffering from hate, discrimination and pogroms for the last 35 years) try to create a peaceful, pacifist territory on Titan, with a generous collectivist ideology and the will of being independent – it’s Nueva Cuba. Some free thinkers in the New USA and in the European Territories would like to begin the reconciliation work – but because of extremism and mutual defiance, the experience fails: the Titan Riots are a terrifying blood bath, scattering the Cubans in space again.
We’re nine years later, in 2083. Thanks to a new technology, the “Landstadt-Steiner wormhole generator”, Alpha Centaurii and Aldebaran are being explored, essentially by the Europeans, who used the excuse of exploration to make a display of force.
The solar system is more or less “’pacified”. Trade is on again, and with trade comes smugglers, the “understandings” with the Police, the Space Pirates… among those Pirates, the most famous, cruel and terrifying, the “White Russian” - a man known to be somehow linked to the Titan Riots...
In this instable universe, “The Flying Rock” is a sailor joint like dozens exist in all of the solar system; a cheap motel that did have his time of glory before the new Landstadt-Steiner generators made space relays and “space truck stops” obsolete – except for the old tubs still using NERVA reactors, or for ships too small to venture into deep space for long.
Wes, fifty-something, is the bartender, and accepts everyone, whoever they are, wherever they come from…
List of the Episodes:
1: Whisky on the Rocks / 2: Bloody Mary / 3: Old Fashioned / 4: Kir Royal / 5: Cuba Libre /
6: Cheshire Cat / 7: Tequila Sour / 8: Dark’n’Stromy / 9: Colonel Collins / 10: White Russian
In France, doing Science-Fiction that is not comedy, or based on a story we already know, is almost impossible. So you can imagine than trying to do a dark science-fiction TV-series based on an original universe is a bit difficult.
But in the US, “serious” Science-fiction is a major genre: almost all of the biggest blockbusters are science-fiction, and if we extend to the fantasy genre in general, you’ll find that “Game of Thrones” is the biggest show of the moment – all of this would have been considered as “geeky” or “childish” only 20 years ago; but now everybody takes it very seriously: what was a “genre” is now mainstream cinema/shows.
Unfortunately, in France the broadcasters are still not ready for this. They don’t want to take any risks; and they want to see the show before financing the show…
This is what we want to do with “The Flying Rock”: we want to demonstrate that doing something of really good quality is doable, even if we’re on a budget – we want to show that all technical, genre and budget questions are really excuses to not take risks - because in the end, what really matters is how good is the story.
What we’ve got:
In about a year of pre-production, we assembled almost of the pieces of the puzzle: the soundstage, the set, the lighting, the cameras, the FX.
In the end, we were able to secure all of this because when we talked to other professionals, we often heard that: when they began in this career, that was because they wanted to shoot “Star Wars”, not some cheap soap opera… Because of that, we were able to find a lot of very, very skilled people that are motivated by the project, and are ready to offer some of their time, skills, equipments for making “The Flying Rock” happen!
Our three main partners are Parallell Cinéma, a production company specialized in crazy projects and new technologies (especially Stereo 3D cameras); Victorimage/Studio 26, a production company specialized in “extreme shootings”, who owns a big soundstage and quite a lot of equipment; and La Manufacture des Films, a company specialized in set decorating (they did 13 Tzameti and L’Héritage, two films by Gela Babluani that are Sundance Film Festival winners!).
What we need:
the only thing we need is some cash, to pay for everything we can’t get for
free – namely the basic elements to build the set (wood, aluminium, plastic,
furnitures…), do the practical special effects (explosions, blank rounds, heavy
make-up…), transportation (trucks, fuel…) plus enough to feed about 25 persons
during a week of shooting.
What we’ll be able to do exactly directly depends on how much we can manage to collect, thanks to you (see below: “Objectives”)!
For about a year, we’ve been doing a video-blog. The idea was to do a “behind the scenes” video… but live – so you can see what we want to do, our hopes, what’s working, what’s not working, the surprises we’ve got…
And we take that opportunity to also explain some of the techniques we’ve been using, and some of the tricks of the trade.
Below you’ll find some of the videos of the blog (unfortunately, in French only): the first one explains the techniques we used to write the scenarios, another one focus on production design (and at 4min44s, we’ll show you the soundstage where we’ll be shooting the series), and the last one shows the amazing “robot-camera” we’ll be using to shoot some of the most spectacular sequences of the show.
Other videos (about pre-visualization, production, firearms…) are visible on the blog itself, here.
Below, you’ll find plenty of photos of various shootings we’ve done together recently, that will tell a lot by themselves.
To sums things up in a few words.
We’ve got 10 years of experience in this job. The project is backed by Parallell Cinéma, the company we founded with my friends Carlo Sirtori and David Steiner in 2009 – that company won of lot of prizes worldwide because of the artistically and technical qualities of our work, especially in stereo 3D. We’ve been invited to do conferences on our work and S3D production worldwide: Canada, Mexico, Chile, Poland, Germany, Cyprus, France, Belgium…
Recently, we’ve been pushing more and more our fiction film department: we shot this summer in New-York and in Puerto Rico our first feature film (in 2D), called The Preppie Connection, directed by Joe Castelo, with Thomas Mann, Sam Page, Lucy Fry – a story (based on real events) of drug smuggling in a preppie campus at the beginning of the 80’s.
To speak about me for a bit (mmh, yeah, I like it).
Well, originally, I’m your good old average geek, the guy who was programming his HP 48GX pocket calculator during class, played Dungeons & Dragons (mostly 2nd edition, for those interested…), was writing stories all the time and proudly sucked at sport.
Then I studied Philosophy at La Sorbonne University in Paris, did a Master, and was working on my PhD to become a teacher when I directed a first short film, almost by chance. The movie was really bad, but the experience was so intense that I just dropped everything else.
So I read just about every technical book on cinema, editing, screenwriting, lighting, directing I could find and began fiddling with cameras, trying stuff and tweaking software to try to learn the job as fast as possible.
6 months later, I entered a production company as an editor, 3 months later I was directing a 52-min documentary for national channel France 3, again almost by chance. Then I directed about 30 commercials before getting interested in Stereo-3D shootings.
It was before “Avatar”, and when we founded Parallell Cinéma with my friends, we had some advance on competition in this field - so we had the opportunity to co-produce or work on big shows: the David Guetta 3D gig, some soccer game, documentaries series for international channels Arte and Canal+, then the first TV-series entirely shot in 3D (26 episodes of 26 min for a British production company), etc.
With The Flying Rock, I finally go back to what I really like: science-fiction. But in France, we’re in hostile territory, science-fiction is “impossible” to do… unless we prove the opposite, thanks to you.
So let’s be frank, since you’ve read all this: without you, this project can’t exist – it’s so far away from everything the French TV is used to produce that most of the people we talk to do not even understand what this is about, and why we “work away” on a Sci-Fi project…
Well, because we love it and it is REALLY cool, that’s why!
Depending on what we can collect, we can do different things:
For 6,500€ ($8,125): We can build a part of the set and shoot, in two days, a teaser-trailer for the series – something really cool in which you get a peek at the characters and the atmosphere, and in which you’ll be able to see a part of a super nice gunfight, lit only by the muzzle flashs. To film that fight, we’ll use an innovative process using a motion control robot to mix two techniques: stop-motion and Matrix-like “bullet time” – the idea being to do something really smooth and readable: camera moves inside a “sculpture” of hard white light and dark shadows (see the second half of the “Robot” episode of the blog)
For 8,000€ ($10,000): We’ll be able to build the whole set! This means we can shoot a complete episode, in four days. That will be episode 1 “Whisky on the Rocks”, in which Wes (the bartender) meets again with “The Commander”, an old man he hasn’t seen for years. Not too much fights in this episode (well, actually, there is a quick fight…), but you’ll be able to discover the universe, the atmosphere and the main characters.
For 12,000€ ($15,000): We can build the whole set in a “destructible” version (with little remote-controlled explosives in the walls to imitate bullet impacts), do a lot of FX and shoot five days – which means we can shoot one of the coolest episodes of the show, episode 6 “Cheshire Cat”. This episode has a quiet mood until an unexpected event suddenly switches everything into a hazy nightmare… the resolution implies some big gunfight between Kate, the female bounty hunter, and a really cool “bad guy”. In this episode we’ll have stunts, explosions, and really cool visual effects related to a strange drug that modifies perception slightly…
For 14,000€ ($17,500): Episode 6 again… but now we can shoot it in 3D using “beamsplitter
3D-rigs” – the very 3D technology used to shoot movies like Life of Pi, The Hobbit, etc.! 3D is our
business (real eye-candy native 3D, not
quickly-done-conversion-to-make-some-more-bucks!), so we’re ready to do
something as cool as Gravity – especially in that particular episode, which is very
much adapted to the 3D mise-en-scene.
And if we make more than 14,000€ (wow, cool…)?: Well, if we made it to
16000€, we’ll shoot 2 episodes in 2D, if make it to 18000€, we’ll shoot them in
3D! And if we make more, we’ll be able to shoot even more episodes!
We really want that project to happen, and we tried to make cool rewards. In our opinion, a poster or T-Shirt of The Flying Rock is nice, but not nice enough to justify the fabrication costs (money that won’t be used on the film itself – which is somehow painful!) – and honestly, I think that nobody, in the real world, actually wear those T-shirts…
So we tried to propose stuff that really means to people who like geeky stuff and cinema: seats for the premiere (in Paris) with the crew (and to the party after it!), but also a lot of cool stuff related to shooting techniques and to “how can a make my first film”… and related to 3D cinema.
So in the rewards, you’ll find, noteably:
- An award-winning 3D movie (also watchable in 2D) which explains how to shoot in 3D – this film, IN ENGLISH (or French, just ask) has basically become the reference course on the subject! This is included in the 50€ pack and above.
- And an award-winning software program based on the professional software FrameForge Previz Studio that is a “virtual film studio”, a “shooting simulator” that is optically and physically accurate; in the software (in ENGLISH or French, your choice) a teacher will explain to you all of the techniques to shoot a 3D movie. This is included in the 60€ pack (and above) – that complete course (film+software) “normal” price is $125.
Below you can watch a trailer (in English) for that reward:
We had some excellent reviews in the international press about that course, which was sold for 299€/$375 when it was released! Here are some of them:
"This video course is structured in a didactically excellent manner. The effect of learning with the training program, FrameForge Lab, is striking. [...] The knowledge that you get for this is priceless." - ZOOM (Germany)
"The best teaching program by the best teachers in the world. I don't think I've ever seen such a refined product. It's a hell of a job. It's worth every penny." – FilmPro (Poland)
"The comprehensive DVD set explains all the techniques used in the field, including the most advanced ones.
This course gives filmmakers [...] access to the technical skills necessary for the artistic change brought about by stereo 3D." - MovieScope Magazine (United Kingdom)
"[The package] makes the technical skills necessary for stereoscopic 3-D productions accessible to all filmmakers. " - American Cinematographer Online (USA)
"A must-have package to understand the secrets of Stereo 3D experts" - Sonovision Broadcast (France)
More about the software and the film on our website www.Convergence3D.net/stereo3D.php
Question: I’m not sure. Is this a TV-series or a web-series? Are the episodes 10 or 13min long?
Answer: Originally , it was a 10x10min web-series, but we re-wrote the episodes on a 13min format, which is more TV-friendly. But for now, the series is not backed by a channel, so let’s say it’s a 10x13min web-series. If it becomes something else later, amazing! But for now, it’s just an ambitious web-series…
Q: Is it possible to read the scenarios?
A: They are in French, but yes, definitely! Well, to be honest it would be nice to back the project, even with just a very small contribution, before asking to read the scenarios – it’s like in poker: “I pay to see your hand…” J
Q: Your budget is only 6500€?!? This is impossible…
A: No, this is the money we would need to build just a part of the set. To build the entire set, we need 8000€. And for all the rest… We’ve been working very hard to get most of the equipment and technicians for free – everybody work on the project because they love it and want to be a part of, it, not because of money. So yes, if we manage to get to our objectives, yes we’ll be able to shoot.