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Half-Life Short Film Grabs Attention 72

switchfeet writes "For any of you Half-Life fans out there, this new short film based on the game by The Purchase Brothers is really garnering some attention on pretty much every gaming site out there. 'It's a mixture of live action and game footage, and makes smart use of in-game sound effects, and some really fantastic location hunting. ... The Purchase Bros describe the production as 'guerilla style with no money, no time, no crew, no script, the first two episodes were made from beginning to end on a budget of $500.'"
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Half-Life Short Film Grabs Attention

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  • Very Cool! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tedgyz ( 515156 ) * on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:00AM (#26884765) Homepage

    Maybe some studio will pick up on the idea and make a feature-length film. We need something better than Doom!

    • by Shrike82 ( 1471633 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:02AM (#26884779)
      I heard Uwe Boll is free. I'll give him a call...
      • by Creepy ( 93888 )

        You're kidding, right? (that's a joke ;)

        According to IMDB, ou-vay (Uwe as the Germans would say it) is booked for
        # Zombie Massacre (2010) (in production) (producer)
        # BloodRayne 3 (2009) (in production) (producer)
        # Sabotage 1943 (2009) (in production) (producer)
        # Max Schmeling (2010) (pre-production) (executive producer)
        # Janjaweed (2009) (pre-production) (producer)
        # The Storm (2009) (filming) (producer)

        My guess is he is also directing most of those. Without looking up the profiles, I had heard Sabotage 194

        • by Toonol ( 1057698 )
          BloodRayne 2 (the film) was completely independent of BloodRayne 2 (the game). I think BR 3 will be as well.

          I feel a bit dirty, but I'm going to recommend his adaption of "Postal". It is filthy, tasteless, and obscene, but funny. It's the only film he's done that is worth seeing; for some reason, his sensibilities worked for that film, while they fail everywhere else.
    • Well the game is pretty much a complete storyline in itself :) I have always said it was worthy of its own movie
    • Re:Very Cool! (Score:5, Informative)

      by sanosuke001 ( 640243 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @09:02AM (#26885119)
      Their site actually said Valve had flown them out to Seattle and has been in touch with them regarding the project. I think their first episode was fantastic and would love to see more. Valve throwing them a bit of cash could definitely increase their vision. A full-length movie would be amazing.
    • The rights for making a feature-length of Half-Life (1) were sold back in 2003.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tepples ( 727027 )

        The rights for making a feature-length of Half-Life (1) were sold back in 2003.

        But when a company sells the movie rights to a franchise, isn't such a contract usually written to expire within five years or so? Do you have a citation that we could look at?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ucblockhead ( 63650 )

          If Valve is smart, they sold the rights to the plot and characters, not the setting. That would allow something like this, set in City 17 and featuring known of the main Half-life characters, to be done without effecting those rights.

        • Back in 2003 I saw this article on, a very populair and trustworthy online news outlet in The Netherlands: []

          You'll have to run it through Babelfish though, as it is written in Dutch.

    • Just so long as they still cast Rosamund Pike [] (the girl that played Samantha Grimm) :)
      • She was the only good part about that movie. Doom was fine for a Sci-Fi flick, but a disgrace to Doom, IMHO.

        This HL short is awesome though, seemingly better quality and more captivating than Hollywood production.
  • by jack2000 ( 1178961 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:00AM (#26884769)
    I enjoyed their work and can only wish for more.
  • The problem (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Gordon would have to TALK, and that can't possibly work well.

  • From Valve (Score:5, Informative)

    by Barny ( 103770 ) <> on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:32AM (#26884923) Journal

    Valve had this to say in the latest steam news...

    The short film Escape from City 17: Part One, viewable on YouTube via the link below, was inspired by the Half-Life 2 episodes and chronicles the escape from City 17 by some members of the citizens resistance. It was created by The Purchase Brothers, a commercial directing duo, and their small team based in Toronto, Canada. They have been Half-Life enthusiasts from the start and have created this short, the first in a series, on a shoestring budget using handmade costumes, some donated equipment, and the Source SDK, not to mention lots of their own blood, sweat and (we assume) tears. It was sent to Valve unannounced, and we were blown away -- the production quality certainly exceeds that of the usual community-made movies we see. We're told the second episode is nearing completion, and we can't wait to see what's in store. We hope that you enjoy the series.

    PLEASE NOTE! This live-action video contains scenes of blood and harsh violence, and may not be appropriate for younger audiences or sensitive viewers.

    Seems they liked it too :)

    • by mfh ( 56 )

      Why wouldn't Valve be blown away? Valve was a group of dedicated gamers who originally wanted more out of the first person shooter experience, so they started their own company and leveraged their own talent to creating Half Life. They were heralded similarly to the Purchase Brothers, although it's not the same scale. I bet seeing that film reminded some of people at Valve of their experience around the first launch of Half Life. :)

      • Re:Valve (Score:4, Informative)

        by Saffaya ( 702234 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @09:59AM (#26885679)

        IIRC (read long ago on gaming sites that are now long forgotten), Valve was created by ex-microsoft employees. Half-life's first incarnation was not as good as they hoped to be. Thanks to their wealth (from being rather early microsoft people), they were able to scrap the game as it was, keep the really good parts , and expand those, polishing the whole until they were fully satisfied with their work and finally released it to the world.
        Their financial independence made possible the heavy reworking that lead to the genesis of half-life as we know it. A luxury most of the developping teams nowadays can not afford.(blizzard being the exception)

        Just to say that the qualificative 'group of dedicated gamers' does not fully describe Valve, imo.
        It rather makes me think of the players who wanted more out of the FPS experience and wrote counter-strike, the half-life mod.

        • Re:Valve (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:22PM (#26888045)

          Except, then the Counter-Strike team was hired by Valve. And previously, the Team Fortress team was hired by valve. And then Day of Defeat team was hired by valve. And then the Narbacular Drop team was hired by valve.

          There's a pattern here; even if Valve's executives aren't a "group of dedicated gamers", a large proportion of their best staff is. And those executives certainly have a pretty commendable attitude at running a business. They encourage community works (Black Mesa, for example, or this film project) where other large companies would squash them.

          And how many other companies have a chief executive who not only encourages customers to e-mail him, but actually responds to many of them? Not enough.

    • Though valve posting that update news is *why* this short film has gotten so much attention.
    • The problem with fan films to me isn't the production values, it's the acting and writing that usually give them away as amateur efforts. The three things that always give a fan film away are acting, writing, and lighting. Most fan film makers think that cool FX and costumes are all there is to filmmaking. I've seen only a few exceptions to this (the most noteable being a Star Wars fan film from several years ago called "Broken Alliegience []," which had some surprisingly a-class acting, writing, and lighting.
  • by njen ( 859685 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:40AM (#26884961)
    guerilla style with no money, no time, no crew, no script

    (Time) First of all, as someone who works in CG, I can say without a doubt, that those effects would have taken a while to do. You don't just whip up cloud vortexes and comp them in a mere hour. It's this kind of talk that helps support the belief that you can push a button, and a computer takes care of all the effects.
    So it would be prudent to say that the actual filming of the live action component was done in "no time". The entire film from concept to final would have taken at least a few weeks, if not a couple of months I imagine.

    (Money) Second, they would have had to work with legitimate copies of 2D and 3D software. If it was done with anything other than Blender, then that's at least a few thousand dollars right there.

    (Script) Third, it's the story that makes films great. Without a good script, a film is meaningless. I mean look how much effort the storytellers of the game put in to tell a great story in an fps shooter. I don't think it's a wise thing to boast that one has no script.

    I am not trying to belittle the film, as an amateur short with the given constraints it works as best as it can. But I just wanted to expand on the angle that they are trying to push their film from.
    • by chalkyj ( 927554 )
      I have the feeling they didn't literally mean "no time what so ever". They're not trying to apologise for the quality of the film because it was simply willed into existence.

      It did take them some time - evidently it took them how ever long it took them to produce what they produced. The implication of "no time" being that they weren't able to put as much polish on it as they would have given more time.

      One would also assume that as independent film makers and commercial directors they had access to the
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Yes and no. it's easy to hide the bad CG with "shakeycam"(tm) because nothing stands still long enough to allow most viewers to see the poor placement or bad blending. Also their "shakey cam" was not all hanheld shots but some of them were done in composting to add in some camera movement. Unfortunately many people can see that because they used too little of a sample of shakyness and looped it causing a repeating pattern.

      for highschool/college newbies This is a great job. but I would consider it a

      • by Zerth ( 26112 )

        Yes, but then you have everyone who has actually seen a gun saying "Why are they shooting at the wall?"

        Let them take the powder burns, call it method acting when they start flinching on cue.

      • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

        Squibs might come cheap, but the destruction of the costumes worn while using them doesn't (be it in time or money).

        • by Chabo ( 880571 )

          Don't necessarily need to destroy the costumes. Robert Rodriguez used condoms filled with fake blood when he made El Mariachi.

          That movie is a great example of a full-length action movie made on a shoestring budget.

          • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

            How do you achieve the visual effect, then? I know little of film production, but from what I understand, the basic technique is to place the squib beneath the outermost layer of cloth, and to score the cloth for easy tearing when the squib goes off.

            I suppose you could put the squib against the outside of the costume, and then cover it with another piece of fabric on top of it to give the illusion that the cloth is being penetrated. That presupposes that washing the costumes removes the fake blood, though.

            • by Chabo ( 880571 )

              That's how commercial squibs are implemented, yes, but watch El Mariachi sometime, and watch Robert Rodriguez's "10 Minute Film School" on the DVD.

              Because of the extremely low budget he was on, he went without any unnecessary expenses. Instead of a slate, he had the actors on-screen hold up fingers denoting the scene and take numbers. Instead of a camera dolly he used a handheld camera while being pushed around in a borrowed wheelchair, and instead of commercial squibs he propelled fake-blood-filled condom

      • ...some of them were done in composting...

        Jeez.. If you thought the camerawork was a pile of shit, just say so

    • by Muros ( 1167213 )

      (Script) Third, it's the story that makes films great. Without a good script, a film is meaningless.

      You've obviously never seem a Jackie Chan movie.

    • Third, it's the story that makes films great. Without a good script, a film is meaningless. I mean look how much effort the storytellers of the game put in to tell a great story in an fps shooter. I don't think it's a wise thing to boast that one has no script.

      If the build it up episodic, then they may mean that they have no idea where the story will take them. Which isn't so bad if you think about it. With proper acting (which at some points, this was lacking) this type of genre can work without much of

  • by Marauder2 ( 82448 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @09:48AM (#26885543)

    I will pay for this on DVD/BluRay/Download.

    I would love to see this taken to completion. This is what I have been hoping for in a "HalfLife Movie".

  • This is better than anything Uwe Boll ever put together with millions in budget.
    • Personally, I think my cat could make a better movie while working on a shoestring budget than Uwe Boll ever did.

  • Well, it's not Half Life, It's Half Life 2. But it's pretty neat for an amateur effort.

    But the /. write up says " the first two episodes ...", anyone have any link to the second of the two episodes? I can only find the first.

  • This is an inspiring piece. Well done guys. But imagine if HL came to Hollywood. Who would you get to play which character?

    I'd love to see G-Man played by Christopher Walken :D

    • by ndixon ( 184723 )
      Sasha Baron Cohen, in Ali G guise, would make a good Freeman - as long as he keeps hit mouth shut.

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