Excerpt from Filmcourage.com
[State of the Union by Bruce Branit] is a big, loud, fun, Sci-Fi, action adventure about five young millennials who normally could not survive without their phones, but somehow survive an alien onslaught. To generate buzz and let people understand the tone and scale of the movie, a 5 minute teaser was produced last summer. “It sort of represents the first 5 minutes of the larger movie. We wanted to shoot a no-budget proof of concept and hope that audiences want to know what happens next.” They do.
With “State of the Union” Branit has taken the alien invasion genre and turned it on its head. “We live in a very uncertain time, and this film draws from a feeling that a lot of young people have. They feel they are not in control of their future and are justifiably cynical about what larger forces might try to control them and what’s coming.” Some have called the “State of the Union” script a “Cabin in the Woods” of the sci-fi genre.
But one of the obstacles to producing a big budget looking blockbuster at discount prices is visual effects. How do you do it within such a small budget? That is Branit’s ace in the hole. While not birthing a production company, Branit runs Branit FX, based out of Kansas City. Surprisingly this “out of Hollywood’s zip code” company is responsible for some of the highest quality VFX work seen on television in shows such as Revolution, Person of Interest and the upcoming Almost Human. In fact, Branit FX garnered an Emmy and VES nomination for their work on Breaking Bad – specifically, the shocking, water cooler moment wherein Gus Fring met his grizzly end.
The jump from visual effects artist to filmmaker is becoming a common transition. “Neill Blomkamp (District-9, Elysium) and Joseph Kosinski (Tron, Oblivion) are huge inspirations to me.” added Branit. “They too, were visual effects guys. But they wanted to use effects to help tell a story and make a great movie. Not make a movie simply to showcase their visual effects skills.”
“When we made 405, it caused this revelation that anyone could now do anything with computers in their garage.” Branit says. “While we were never literally in a garage, we did use off-the-shelf software and computers. That has not changed. But what we can do with today’s faster computers has improved 100 fold.” Add to that affordable RED EPIC or DSLR type cameras and desktop editorial and sound, and it seems we are very close to the democratization of Hollywood that “405” promised. It is only natural that vanguard filmmakers like Branit are the ones still pushing to make those films.
Bruce is a well respected visual effects supervisor and director who has hit 3 for 3 with his world renouned
short films, World Builder, 405, and State of the Union. He is originally from the Kansas City area and
moved back in 2004 after spending 10 years in Hollywood. His visual effects company, Branit FX currently
works on television shows such as Revolution, Breaking Bad and Person of Interest.
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