Every since I was young I was fascinated by film. Whether Live Action or animation and even better a combination of both! I was enthralled by Snow White and after seeing Jason and the Argonauts I remember buying a clay that was called DAS which didn’t need a kiln and creating creatures that would exist in my head in other Worlds. Story was what excited me whether real or other worldly but always stories which I could relate to.
My first focus was animation. I studied every animated film I could watch and would stop frame and study them closely which made extremely long viewing! I studied the craft of movement. It lead to an amazing journey and one that lead me to work at Walt Disney in LA. In the 90s traditional 2D animation was booming but with the release of Toy Story that was all to change.
What was once a massively lucrative career almost disappeared overnight. I had set up my own business and was boarding and Directing animation projects and was in the process of reinventing myself from Animator to Director and Producer. I had always admired and enjoyed Live Action films and was encouraged to see top Animation Directors like Brad Bird (The Iron Giant) and Rob Minkoff (The Lion King) transition into Live Action with spectacular results. It was an inspiration to see.
I had been lucky enough on my journeys to come across two people who were to join me on a new quest. To create and make great Live Action and Animated films.
One was Gary Kurtz, Producer of Star Wars and Dark Crystal and Return to Oz http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0476030/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1 . Having been a fan of his for years I was amazed to find him as a new partner in my business. Also Paul Goodenough (Aerian Studios) a young web entrepreneur with boundless energy and an interest in making films. GBK Hybrid was born www.gbkhybrid.com and we set up shop at the wonderful location of Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in the Wiltshire countryside.
We then started to look through all the ideas we had and started to brainstorm as to what films we would like to make first. Out of these sessions came The Chimeran www.thechimeran.com a Live Action film with a nod towards Planet of the Apes and District 9. Also an animated Musical called Offbeat. These are big and ambitious projects. However, small steps first. I wanted to make a few high quality Live Action shorts. One to flex my muscles as a Director of Live Action and to cut my teeth. Two to get the ball rolling for GBK Hybrid www.gbkhybrid.com and my partners.
As with most shorts films it would be a limited budget but I had set my sights high as usual. Outrageously high! Centurion Resurrection was born. I had storyboard an idea based around the Roman Baths in Bath nearby in which a Centurion is resurrected and comes back to life coming out of the spa. The spirit of Rome would be represented by an Eagle which would fly down and witness this rebirth.
After a grand and spectacular resurrection he would walk out onto the streets of Bath and be mistaken for a street performer. I had mentioned the idea in conversation to top Director of Photography Gary Young http://www.garyyoungdop.com/ who works extensively in LA a bit like myself but also has a home local to Bath. He loved the idea and it encouraged me to take it further and rough out a storyboard.
It took a couple weeks on the first pass but then probably went on to redo it another twenty times with multiple endings. Now the hard part how to fund and make it. Short films are a wonderful vehicle for the creators, The Director and Producers to show what they can do. There was a commercial bent to the idea though. It heavily features the Roman Baths in Bath http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/ and Bath as a whole. I approached Bath Tourism and they were interested http://visitbath.co.uk/ . It fitted in with their marketing well and they could use it as a promotional tool, although first and foremost it is a short film in it’s own right.
In the meantime I was looking into other ways to get this made. I approached a young Producer and Actor Nyasha Hatendi http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1812840/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1 who also owns a company which hires out camera equipment (H and H Films) https://www.facebook.com/pages/H-H-Films-Ltd/122761171145025 Nyasha came onboard. He brought in Production Manager Jo Buckman and then a whole host of talent came on board (many from the NFTS) all the time making the short far more doable. Bath Boutique Stays generously put up the crew in exquisite Georgian Houses http://www.bathboutiquestays.co.uk/ . Eat5Star made sure they were fully nourished with their wonderful cuisine http://www.caterersbath.co.uk/ as well as Gourmet Kitchen Burger , http://www.gbk.co.uk/ no relation to my own company GBK Hybrid!
There was a small hitch though. We found out along the way that we would not be able to film the actor in the water at The Roman Baths due to a very nasty bug in the water! After pondering this and exploring some other ideas I decided the best way was to find another location to film the actor on a green screen. We looked into Follies around the UK that might look similar. We then visited the Thermae Bath Spa and there was our solution just a few hundred yards from the original Roman Baths! Green Screen it was!
The Roman Baths along with The Thermae Bath Spa http://www.thermaebathspa.com/ agreed to let us film at their locations and The Bath Film Office http://channels.visitbath.co.uk/bath-film-office couldn’t have been more helpful. It felt like the whole City was on board! The icing on the cake was to get to film the amazing Eagles Saxon and Sienna at Forest Falconry. Just magnificent birds and up so close! Sienna nestled into it’s handler like a dog would! Amazing to see. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.669997063046659.1073741837.646165435429822&type=3
I had also approached an actor friend of mine Mingus Johnston who was in Jack the Giant Slayer and on screen with Ewan McGregor for at least 20 minutes of the film. The previous year we met up in LA and as well as introducing him to a lot of contacts was able to help set up an interview through Producer Christina Nayve for him on Creative Current on Laartream http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZMX_qV0MZg
Amongst some of the other amazing talent we had was costume designer Cecile Dauby Van Dijk http://www.cecilevandijk.com/ who chose and co-ordinated the stunning outfit worn by Mingus.
We are currently in Post Production with Centurion Resurrection at Locomotion Soho. The score by John Koutselinis http://www.johnkoutselinis.com/ is just outstanding. The final mix will be done in the Red Room http://realworldstudios.com/post-production/the-red-room/ by Andrew Wilson at Real World Studios.
Screenings will be announced shortly.