While director Neill Blomkamp may not have many feature length credits to his name, he has made his mark with his work. Arguably, his best efforts can be found outside of the big-budget Hollywood scene and rather found via the search bar of a little site called YouTube.
Earlier this year, he opened the eyes of the world to the works of Oats Studios. In tandem with YouTube and Steam, Oats Studios releases short films in an attempt to gauge public interest and see which shorts could be expanded into full-length movies. What started off as a nice business model has exploded into what could be considered the future of film.
While these shorts may not be viral sensations, they are presented unhindered. A common story in Hollywood is how producers and executives meddle in the development process, resulting in a product that barely resembles the original vision, often to the chagrin of the filmmakers or the audience. But where Blomkamp and Oats Studios differs is their ability to bring these unaltered products to the masses in 5-20 minute snippets, each their own self-contained experience which can work both independently and as part of a series. From Rakka to Firebase, these shorts take their small budgets and push them to the absolute limit of their potential. The corners of these productions aren’t cut.
Their most recent offering, ADAM: The Mirror, was made in real-time using the Unity 2017 engine. The results are nothing short of spectacular. The dark atmosphere and visuals are so realistic you could be forgiven for thinking it was live action, and the story leaves that patented Blomkamp ambiguity to pique the interest of the audience.
Now, a question is presented: Is Oats Studios the best thing to happen to film this year? Some might think that question is too broad or unwarranted given the amount of content presented so far. In my eyes, it’s the perfect question to ask. When you watch these shorts, you can’t deny the visceral experience of it and appreciate all of the time and effort put in (the short, Zygote, is the best horror film of the year in my eyes). Each short could (and possibly should) be their own feature-length film but also work well in their current medium. While those points are valid, they aren’t why I think Oats has done wonders for film.
Oats and Blomkamp have shown that you don’t need the gold-lined pockets of the executives at 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., or the other companies to push the envelope behind the camera. When a director and writer is able to present what they want, rather than a watered-down alternative, the final product can be a thing of beauty. When you allow yourself to think and work outside of the box, the possibilities are limitless.
Is Oats Studios truly that great or do you see something different? Check out their shorts, ADAM: The Mirror and Zygote below and let me know what you think.
Links and photo via Oats Studios