A glimpse into the future with Mischa Rozema's SUNDAYS

PostPanic Pictures debut film project SUNDAYS completes first step towards its Feature goal

22 MARCH 2015, AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS, MARCH 2015
Summary
Mischa Rozema and PostPanic Pictures' debut film project SUNDAYS completes a first step towards its Feature Film goal with the release of the ambitious proof-of-concept short. Much-anticipated and widely-supported by the international creative community (over 50K US Dollars was donated on Kickstarter alone for the live action filming part in Mexico City), SUNDAYS is directed by Mischa Rozema and was produced by Dutch hybrid commercial film production company, PostPanic. PostPanic has gathered a formidable international creative reputation over the past 18 years and SUNDAYS is the debut project of its new fledgling long-format arm, PostPanic Pictures, which is set to turn heads in Hollywood.

Set in Mexico City sometime in the future and starring US actor Brian Petsos ('Revenge For Jolly') and Mexican actress Sofia Sisniega, SUNDAYS is an ambitious philosophical science-fiction proof-of-concept short.

The end of the world seems like a nightmare to Ben. A memory of a past life that doesn’t belong to him. When Ben starts to remember Isabelle, the only love he’s ever known, he realises she’s missing in his life. An existential descent into confusion and the desperate need to find out the truth begins. This reality depicts a stunning, surprising and dark world. A world that is clearly not his.

Rozema has developed quite a name for himself as a director over the years (primarily in the commercial world), winning awards and recognition for his often uncompromising creative directions created with PostPanic, the hybrid film production company he co-founded with producer Jules Tervoort back in 1997. New long format arm, PostPanic Pictures, adapts PostPanic's successful hybrid production model from the commercial world, directly producing in-house both the expected live action elements in SUNDAYS but also the extensive post-production required to create Rozema's futuristic world. PostPanic carried out the vast majority of the VFX themselves in-house applying their trademark artistry and CG techniques but also welcomed additional support on specific scenes by an extended team of specialist freelancers and Glassworks Amsterdam. 

As a proof of concept, the short SUNDAYS represents not only a first step in realising the feature film ambitions for this future-facing script but also sets PostPanic Pictures firmly on the map as a new brand of filmmakers to watch. Their determination to create not only evocative and beautifully crafted stories but produce them realistically using PostPanic's pioneering business approach, is injecting new energy into Hollywood at a time when the film industry has begun looking for new methods of financing and producing.

By producing directly themselves both the live action and post production elements of SUNDAYS, PostPanic Pictures have shown that ambitious visual films can be made on much smaller and more efficient production budgets. In addition, the reduced financial risk allows PostPanic Pictures to not only closely guard the creative integrity of projects such as SUNDAYS but also ensure scripts remain closer to their original vision. Could this therefore mean the return of more intelligent, thoughtful (sci-fi) films which don't always end up with a Hollywood shoot-out at the end? And could this open the door for more directors to shine in Hollywood? PostPanic Pictures certainly believe so.

SUNDAYS was supported by Adobe, The Foundry, Wacom, HP, Chaos Group, Pro-Mexico, H&R Automatisering and Dutch Digital Design.

Credits:

Story & Directed by Mischa Rozema

Cast: Brian Petsos, Sofia Sisniega

Producers: Ania Markham, Jules Tervoort

Score composed by Ben Lukas Boysen

Director of Photography: Jon Gaute Espevold

Edited by Mischa Rozema

Head of Post-Production/ VFX Supervisor: Ivor Goldberg

Co-Producer Mexico: Stacy Perskie Kaniss

Production Designer Mexico: Roberto Bonelli

Associate Producer: Annejes van Liempd

Screenplay by Kevin Koehler

Sound Designer: Jochen Mader

Quotes
"WHY KICKSTARTER? People have asked us, why the decision to have the live action element in Mexico City funded through Kickstarter? why not funded through more traditional sources? First of all, if you have success with crowdfunding via something like Kickstarter it's pretty instant and you can have your budget raised within a month. Also, from a practical point of view, there are no strings attached and your production will stay independent which was very important for us. What you give in return to the people who contribute is involvement - they are made an important part of the process with regular updates, and goodies like, t-shirts, prints, behind the scenes and first viewing etc. What made it even more worthwhile for us was the experience and the fact that we gathered and connected to our future audience, who championed us patiently along the way." Jules Tervoort, Producer, SUNDAYS
"MISCHA AS A DIRECTOR For us, the curiosity has always been what is Mischa capable of as a director when it's him deciding how far to push it and not a client. As a commercials director, he has always been able to create stuff never seen before and this transition into long format gives him the opportunity to indulge that talent even further and see where it takes him, regardless of whether it is on brief or not. " Ania Markham, Producer, SUNDAYS
"HOW DOES HAVING THE POST PRODUCTION IN-HOUSE MAKE POSTPANIC DIFFERENT? Having the post production process in-house makes a huge difference and is fundamental to the way we set PostPanic up initially. All our directors come from a design/post production background, which makes them very aware of the possibilities and so they think on their feet during the creation of a project. In addition, because they always work closely with and are part of the post-production team, stuff not only gets done more efficiently but creative and technological boundries are pushed further and further by the flexibility this setup offers." Jules Tervoort, Producer, PostPanic Pictures
"POSTPANIC PICTURES AS A NEW MODEL OF FILM PRODUCTION PostPanic Pictures has set itself a high bar of achievement but its because we strongly believe that things have to evolve in the manner of long format film making. We know that production methods are changing - especially within post production - but we are not saying that our way of working is the only manner in which films will be made in the future. We just want to add our own unique set-up into the Hollywood mix and see if our methods and creative attitude can inspire additional forms of film production and broaden the offerings of films taken up by the mainstream studios. We're just trying our hardest to see if we can find a way to open the doors and facilitate the innovative directors of the future. " Ania Markham, Producer, PostPanic Pictures
"AMBITIONS OF POSTPANIC PICTURES Our ambition for PostPanic Pictures is to develop and produce long format projects, shorts and features. Our strength lies in our integrated production setup allowing our directors to tell highly creative, visual stories. " Jules Tervoort, Producer, PostPanic Pictures
"WHAT DID HAVING THE SUPPORT OF THE KICKSTARTER COMMUNITY MEAN TO YOU? Well, for me it was probably the most important thing for the project, otherwise the project wouldn’t have taken place the way it did - in complete creative freedom. There is also the fact that you feel as a director that you’re not doing it on your own, you’re doing it with a group of people that actually said we don’t want anything back, we just want you to have a chance to make this film that you believe in so...all of a sudden you have those beliefs behind you which makes you feel really, really responsible and so puts the bar even higher than I had already placed it. So it was creatively a very positive influence plus on top of that we had the financial support from the backers, which meant we could actually do the shoot I'd been planning for years! Now we're at the end of the process, it's clear the Kickstarter community also provided us with a platform where not only could we communicate our stuff but it even allowed people to offer their services from 3D artists to compositors to cinematographers...the response was overwhelming to be honest. I really didn’t expect that to happen and that’s what I’m very proud of saying...it may have been financially facilitated by Kickstarter backers but it was actually also, you know, made by a whole load of Kickstarters. " Mischa Rozema, Director, SUNDAYS
"HOW DOES WORKING WITH YOUR OWN TEAM AROUND YOU (POSTPANIC) MAKE YOU DIFFERENT AS A DIRECTOR? DOES IT MAKE YOU MORE AMBITIOUS CREATIVELY? Definitely! Yeah, definitely! I mean, if I didn’t have that amount of punching power so close so near me, I would really have to re-think my ideas...I would have never thought of a project like SUNDAYS, because it’s just too bold and too big and too epic and...you know...basically you walk away from it and that’s why I think all these years ago we actually invented this company - to be at a point where we could pull stuff like this off, and now we actually are pulling it off and it feels like its our kind of Olympic games...you train, you learn and you work really hard...and you have other matches (you know we make commercials and do other short films) but this is the big one! You know...this is it! And it feels like everything is ready...fits like a puzzle and everybody has been working so hard for it and for so long...I mean, you know...we’re basically a family here so it feels very much like a complete joint effort to have made SUNDAYS the way we did. " Mischa Rozema, Director, SUNDAYS
"HOW HANDS-ON DO YOU GET IN THE PRODUCTION AND POST-PRODUCTION PROCESS? Very hands on...I think....the thing is that SUNDAYS is very much a world creation project. By creating this world, I have to set certain laws which only myself as the creator of that world can actually decide upon, so basically I have to teach everybody what to do - you know the do’s and don’t’s of this world. After a while, everybody gets to know your world, but it's still up to you to make sure everything created in post conforms to the world you created. I start off with sketches and that is how we communicated even from before we started shooting, so very visually explaining how this world should operate, how it should be and how it should look. So I’m always closely involved in the production and the post-production. Once we get into the editing and the grading, well, I just love doing that because that’s actually playing and molding the movie into where it needs it to be...And dealing with sound issues and music. All aspects really. You know that’s what I think being a proper director is all about - certainly in this genre anyway. If you have to make a visual kind of statement then it’s inherent that you’re very involved in all these things and work with the best people around, of course. " Mischa Rozema, Director, SUNDAYS
"WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE MEXICO CITY? There are a lot of reasons why I chose Mexico City as the setting for SUNDAYS. Firstly, I think one of the most important reasons was that I was looking for a city structure that could serve as a fundament for the SUNDAYS future. If I look at the future from a SUNDAYS perspective, it would very much look like Mexico City as it is nowadays - it’s very polarized - you have the extremely rich and the extremely poor. The architecture was also a really important aspect of it - the Brutalism that Mexico has and then the kind of ghetto structures, These kind of completely self-made urban areas which look from afar as if they are architectural structures in their own right. Its like whole hills or mountain sides become enveloped in these ghetto shapes - they become a statement for humanity, I guess. I also needed a kind of a theatre that was believable - but also believable enough that some extreme stuff could actually take place there. So it was about creating this ultimate reality but still grounded in believeability. I think if I had told the same story in, let’s say, Amsterdam or maybe even in Los Angeles, stuff wouldn’t be as believable for the average Western viewer. But if I translate that into let’s say Tokyo or Mexico City then there are other cultures involved and this allows us as Westerners to get lost in the mystique of 'otherness' or stuff we don't understand - a perfect theatre from which I can tell my story. " Mischa Rozema, Director, SUNDAYS
"HOW VITAL WAS THE SOUNDTRACK? WHY DID YOU CHOOSE BEN LUKAS BOYSEN AS THE COMPOSER? The music was very important, I knew that from when we started because you know it’s not a normal short film, it's not a very [linear film...it's actually an enhanced trailer on steroids, with film narrative parts in there...and when you tell a story like that you have to rely a lot on emotions...and emotions are music. So I didn’t have the time to play out complete scenes, because this world is much bigger than two or three scenes with actors talking to each other combined and I only had a maximum of 15 minutes (that’s what we started out with) to tell this giant, massive story. It was clear we needed a strong identity and music would help us create that. I’ve worked with Ben before on the OFFF Festival's Year Zero main titles and had a really good experience and...I’m just such a big fan of his...especially his minimalism, he is an excellent composer, that is clear...he can actually make me cry just by playing three piano notes. That’s the stuff I really needed but I also know that he’s very good in orchestrating these big compositions, so I could really make use of the full range of dynamics from the minimalism to the huge, massive orchestra. You know the guy is an absolute genius, in my book...so that was a very pleasant experience! " Mischa Rozema, Director, SUNDAYS
"WHY DID YOU CHOOSE BRIAN PETSOS FOR THE ROLE OF BEN? The shortest answer possible, I mean the eyes...his eyes are so intense...it was like unbelievable...we did a lot of casting...we did casting in Mexico, we did some in the States, we did some in the UK, we did The Netherlands, we did it for quite a while but I could not find the protagonist...I just couldn’t find The Ben that was really needed for this. I think actually right until the evening before we left for Mexico we didn’t have our lead actor, we had everything arranged, everything was known except for maybe the most important thing for the shoot - you know, the lead actor...and I remember seeing Brian's picture and I thought, this guy is amazing...because his eyes were so intense. I needed a really visual presence and I just wanted to talk to the Brian but I couldn’t because I remember he was actually stuck in Brooklyn during the hurricane, what was it called Sandy? and so the only thing we could arrange was a Skype call without visual because the connection was very, very bad but I had his visual because I’d seen his picture and I’d seen the eyes and I thought, yeah, this is exactly how I imagined my main character to be. We got on right away and we started practicing with him over Skype how the voice-over would actually work and it was perfect...so without actually meeting Brian, I said: ‘You have the part’ and I met him for the first time at the shoot a couple of days later in Mexico City. It was crazy but you know, from that point on, we had the best time...he's a very professional guy and I’m very grateful that he was up for this. " Mischa Rozema, Director, SUNDAYS
"WHY DO YOU THINK FEATURE FILMS ARE THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP FOR YOU? For me, the feature film has always been the ideal format for a storyteller, for a filmmaker. I've learned a lot from making commercials (nobody was born to make commercials) but if you want to tell stories, as a director, then the next logical step is feature films. I guess I’ve always looked towards making feature films, but not solely for the actual making of the films but also how to make them our way and that’s why it’s taken so long. You know, its funny to explain, but we are actually approaching this feature film-making-thing exactly the way that...you know...we want to produce our films, and for the moment, it's working and happening right now, so it’s very exciting for me as a director! " Mischa Rozema, Director, SUNDAYS
"WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE WILL TAKE AWAY WITH THEM FROM SUNDAYS THE SHORT? Basically the only thing I want them to take away is that they want to see more...I'm basically creating all this mystery and eye candy and laying out this world in front of them without any answers at all, because the answers are going to be needed and shown in the feature film. Our feature project. This SUNDAYS short is only the first step in a much bigger project, so that’s why it looks and it sounds the way it does. So the only thing I want them to take away is that...to think about...what it means to be human. For now, I would be really, really happy if people just want to know more about the project and hopefully like it...and want to see some more, because there is so much more to come. " Mischa Rozema, Director, SUNDAYS
"WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO RELEASE PRIMARILY ONLINE? Well, we chose to release online because we had long discussions about how to release this thing and there is always the option to do this through festivals, but then you never know...and I always knew that this would be a very weird type of film...it’s going to be a hard film to fit you know, because it’s not a typical film. Plus you have to respect all the rules the festival asks for, you know, like not showing it online...and that would kind of defeat the whole purpose of why we started this project. I mean this is...well, it is kind of a project for the people. I know it sounds very cheezy but it is...I mean, it’s a Kickstarter project - so this thing should be out there, it shouldn't be kept within cinemas for a year and then go online somewhere, somehow. Plus, another thing is that we’re already dealing with the film industry in Hollywood, so we're not dependent on the contacts and relationships a festival situation could expose us to for future financing. So for us a prestigious stage wasn’t that important but rather that as many people as possible are able to see this, and hopefully enjoy it. " Mischa Rozema, Director, SUNDAYS
"HOW INTENSIVE WAS THE POST PROCESS? The most intensive part was actually the juggling between projects and people. Everything had to be built basically from scratch and we had more than a hundred effect shots to work on, massive shots as well, some of which would be made by our own internal team and some of which were external volunteers. That aspect in particular was challenging since we had an amazing team of external people offering to give their time to help us and work for the love of the project, so it meant we could only apply a certain amount of time pressure.....so I think of all the things, I think the juggling was the most intensive, because everything else was just so much fun and such a pleasure to work on. You have to realise, this is our baby...we waited for so long to create a project like this to work on." Ivor Goldberg, Visual FX Supervisor/ Head of Post Production, SUNDAYS
"HOW EASY IS IT FOR THE TEAM TO UNDERSTAND MISCHA'S VISIONS? The internal team knows Mischa incredibly well and myself, in particular, have worked closely with him for over 10 years now. This being a non-commercial project, meant we could enjoy the creation process especially as Mischa's vision of a shot can grow in complexity during a production. He always spends a lot of time talking with the artists and explaining what is going on in his head. Mischa had so much stuff sketched out himself that some things were really clear to absorb and be inspired by. " Ivor Goldberg, Visual FX Supervisor/ Head of Post Production, SUNDAYS
"HOW IS POSTPANIC'S CG DIFFERENT? I think a few things: I think it comes down to the people and it comes down to the way that we work. I think people - we don’t really categorize here at PostPanic. We don’t have people who are strictly say ‘the animator', 'the modeler' or 'the texture artist' or this... The in-house team are ‘the artists’ and I like that - one day they do a matte painting, the next day they are animating, the day after that they are comping, afterwards doing something completely different - I think that is our strength because it’s really true artists, doing stuff that they love - and that makes all the difference. We also have a very organic pipeline and organization, not a fixed structure. So creatively, that lack of hard line mechanical structure keeps us in a position to be focused and inspired to make beautiful images...and also beautiful images in a really decent turnaround time as well - that’s something we are always proud of. " Ivor Goldberg, Visual FX Supervisor/ Head of Post Production, SUNDAYS
"SOME OF THE SCIENCE/MECHANICS IN MISCHA'S WORLD ARE VERY SPECIFIC, THE ATTENTION TO DETAIL IS INCREDIBLE. HOW DID YOU ACHIEVE THAT PRECISION? We are all crazy about detail at PostPanic! ...well at least I know I’m crazy about detail in that way, I live for these details...when I used to draw along time ago I use to just do crazy details so I drive them crazy here by looking at all these details...so from my own personal point of view - that’s all I’m working for, to have these amazing artists create these amazing images but to do every single detail, I live for that in that way. But we do have a process to achieve that standard. You start off with Mischa and he’d take a lot of the weight for the journey of the design but then there’s a lot of things, incredible details that we have to work on. So everything is really researched thoroughly, whether from an aesthetic point of view, from a mechanical point of view, from a design point of view. We also had volunteers working with us who had mechnical engineering and scientific backgrounds - again, that knowledge is priceless in world creation. For the CG artists especially you need to have these varied backgrounds. Everyone who does 3D or CG, is foremost an artist but you have to understand photography, you have to understand the physics of light...all these different disciplines are rolled into one, so you can make these images - it’s not just like pressing a button on the computer and then they pop-out. With SUNDAYS we feel the satisfaction of artists who have finished an intense artistic challenge. " Ivor Goldberg, Visual FX Supervisor/ Head of Post Production, SUNDAYS
"HOW DID HAVING GLASSWORKS ONBOARD FOR THE LAST SCENE, MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Well, the last shot is divided into two bits. The main reveal and then the journey into the gradually changing low poly mountain landscape. We always knew that the last section of the shot (the mountain journey) had to stay in our hands here at PostPanic as it was a very personal vision (and finale) which we wanted to create ourselves. But the first half of the shot - it was enormous! Like I said originally there was over a hundred effect shots, so to work on the end shot was a project itself - there was so much stuff, so many vehicles, so much that had to be designed and worked out. There was no doubt that the main reveal would be a mammoth undertaking and so yes, if I'm honest, we were wobbling on how we would manage to create it on time with only our own team. That's where Glassworks stepped in. They're our friends and neighbours here in Amsterdam, we respect their work immensely. When they said yes, we'll take it on, everyone cheered, we were so happy it was going to be them. They create beautiful work so the quality would be a given. I mean you are trusting someone with a massive shot, I mean that’s the big moment, the climax, the big DAAM moment when you suddenly go into that end shot and you are seeing everything everywhere so...if it sucked, the whole film will suck because its such a vital moment, but hey, it was Glassworks and if there's anyone you can trust it's them. There were some incredibly good people working on it and they did a great job." Ivor Goldberg, Visual FX Supervisor/ Head of Post Production, SUNDAYS
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About PostPanic

PostPanic is an internationally awarded and respected Dutch film company.

PostPanic is made up of three divisions: PostPanic (commercial film), PanicProgram (emerging commercial talent) and PostPanic Pictures (long format film).

Founded in 1997, PostPanic closely guards its unique creative attitude and continues to produce memorable visual work for the advertising, entertainment, broadcast, retail and music industries worldwide.

The Amsterdam home is made up of a permanent international team composed of producers, directors and creatives specializing in live action, motion graphics/animation, VFX and installations.  PostPanic also host and curate the popular bi-annual inspiration evenings, The PanicRoom (an invite-only night for the Amsterdam creative community).

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