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The Hidden Effects of Overdue

September 21st 2019
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It’s 2014. Me, Max, and our mate Tim are on the floor of a dark student basement, watching terrible action movies on some cheap projector.

Everyone has their pipe-dream of a film, that dream project they’ve always wanted to make - and that night we started writing ours. An over-the-top action film called Overdue. A homage to every silly, ridiculous action film we loved.

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We filmed it two years later, and the film finally got released in 2019. There were masses of VFX that needed to be done, and turns out when you’re working three jobs, you don’t have much time for anything else. Thankfully the cast and crew are a forgiving lot, and it was a huge relief when we finally gathered everyone together for the film premiere.

It wouldn't be a cheesy action movie without plenty of fight scenes and stunts. Our actors had plenty of action to choreograph and rehearse - including Matt and Mark's one-shot fight, Jenna (accidentally) kicking Max in the head, and this shot of Max being slammed into a table. Can you spot the pillow stuffed down his back?

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As much as we'd love to do everything for real, there are over a hundred VFX shots in the film. It’s hard to miss all the gunshots, blood splatters and alien gun blasts in the film, and there are even some 3D effects in there (thanks to Kieran Lowley). However, a huge number of hidden VFX shots were also required to make this film a reality.

Sometimes it’s just fixing on-set goofs, like getting rid of these TV screens which couldn't be turned off.

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The screens needed to be painted out from fifteen separate shots. The trick is to patch in other bits from the background, but when you're going frame-by-frame, you can imagine how long it takes.

There were also plenty of other shots where people needed to be removed from mirrors, windows, and backgrounds. If I've done my job right, you won't have noticed any of them.

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Sometimes, it's just easier to fix things in post-production. I couldn't find an envelope printer in time for this shot in the trailer, but did you even notice it was fake?

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So there you go. Three years and a hundred VFX shots later - many of which you won't even notice - Overdue was finally released. I learnt a huge amount working on this film, which I've used on a bunch of other projects since.

Of course, special effects only exist to help tell your story. One of my favourite shots is when Simba gets blown up at the midpoint of the film. Rather than dwelling on the VFX shot, it always felt right to cut to a reaction shot of Hannah instead.

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Special effects, cinematography, lighting, and all that jazz - at the end of the day, all of them exist to help tell the story in your film. It's easy to get lost in camera technology and film theory, but the story always has to come first.

Isn't that what filmmaking's all about?

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Overdue was released in 2019. You can watch the full short film here.

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