Article by Frank Memmesheimer
We’ve survived it all.
Asteroids and alien invasions, emancipating apes and malevolent AI, enraged gods and mythical creatures, earth-shattering natural disasters and sudden freeze-overs, ancient plagues and the occasional pandemic, conspiracies, zombies, the rapture, hell on earth, nuclear winter, and simple man-made apocalypses – whatever fictional catastrophe fate has thrown at mankind, we’ve come out on top.
Nothing could have prepared us for this dual threat of social-media deprived zombies and mother nature, turning giant killer plants on acid against her own children.
In 2015, the mock trailer to “Dawn of the Planet of the Zombies and the Giant Killer Plants on Some Serious Acid” took the internet by surprise, and then by storm. What started as a late-night passion project for Alf Lovvold, a 3D visual artist from Oslo, Norway, rather unexpectedly took on a life of its own.
“In all fairness – the whole thing was a spoof. In fact, it was just meant to be a short, thirty second helicopter crash on a rooftop for me to play around with different techniques, and as I came up with new shots I started expanding it. I would call the trailer a work-by-accident – not because of the visuals (which took quite an effort) but in terms of narration. I needed a tiny bit of narration and theme to cut this whole thing together. So, the premise was just for laughs, but has spawned quite a following.”
MonkeyGoose spoke with Alf Lovvold about the end of the world, creating stuff, and where he plans on taking that passion project of his, which has been in development for over two years now.
MonkeyGoose: Zombies, no internet, and giant plants on acid: Do your own ideas give you nightmares sometimes?
Alf Lovvold: I’m sure the notion of no internet gives most people nightmare nowadays. I used to get nightmares from watching the alien in “E.T.” as a kid, and the clown from “IT” bothered me for quite some time. My own ideas? Not so much.
Do you have a personal favorite among the many doomsday stories?
Hm. I`m not really a huge fan of mankind going under in general, but there’s something alluring to it and it’s interesting to see how a post-wipeout might look like. Like an alternative universe where you, as an audience, get to experience how life finds a way: both in a dark tale about a father and his son in the fantastic “The Road” but also in fun popcorn-themed movies like “This Is the End.” I guess I am more of an optimist in regard to mankind’s future, but it’s good fun to live out those ideas.
In 2015, your trailer to “Dawn of the … Stuff” received a ton of attention. Audiences wanted you to start a Kickstarter campaign and develop it into a feature film ASAP. After what you dubbed your “nerdy 15 minutes of fame,” you didn’t rush the project. Instead, you took your time.
Well, I didn’t exactly plan for all the attention but I didn’t take a vacation either. I developed a lot of ideas and concepts for how a movie could play out, set in the established premise. And I started looking for writers […] but as a non-established director from tiny Norway, it’s hard to get good writers to do spec-work. Also, there’s been a ton of possible routes to go. It’s one thing to do a 3 minute trailer with some interesting visuals, but it`s a totally different beast to do 90 minutes of meaningful entertainment that doesn’t totally suck the life out of the audience. So, I`ve taken my time to find a good approach.
I`m working with a small team of talented people in the industry to push this thing along, and I am positioning myself to direct it. At the same time, I’m doing some of the new visuals myself. It’s still in development but I can say that there’s something fun coming up in the near-future.
Lovvold is the right person to bring his ideas to the big screen, as the tech savvy and narrative finesse of his teaser trailer so aptly demonstrated. Not only did he come up with a unique and humorous approach to the doom and gloom of yet another unhappy ending to the human endeavor, his execution thereof is flawless and captivating. On his personal website, Lovvold is very open about his process: he showcases compelling time lapses of the creation of different scenes and grants glimpses behind the VFX magic.
This technical disclosure is an extraordinary habit, which he continues to maintain in his professional career. When Lovvold is not busy bringing mankind closer to the brink of fictional annihilation, he lets his imagination run wild for Gimpville, an award-winning VFX and animation studio in Oslo, Norway, which he co-founded in 2002. With now over six-hundred productions under their belt, the studio has an impressive portfolio of ads, short films, and animations for feature films to show for, and an elucidating selection of behind-the-scenes coverage.
In June 2015, Lovvold appeared on the podcast of award winning Australian VFX artist and supervisor Allan McKay, whose work you’re unknowingly familiar with.
Your conversation with Allan McKay covered the VFX side of your trailer and work pretty well. Even for someone without a VFX background, it was entertaining and educational in a sense that it allowed a glimpse into your mind and your career in the industry. What was it about creating 3D objects and scenes that got you “hooked”?
Oh man, the interview was my first step into speaking English on such a scale, and I cringe when I listen to it. I am sorry for all involved that had to experience that. That said, I don’t think it`s necessarily working with 3D that hooked me – it is all about creating stuff, and being creative. When working with 3D though, there are a lot of possibilities that open up as technology advances. What would demand a whole studio some 10-15 years ago is today within reach of a one-man operation – if you’re willing to commit. For me, it is all about having fun and creating stuff that comes to mind. And, as an emerging director, it is a fantastic tool to conceptualize and try out different ideas before going on set.
What does your creative process look like? How do you approach creating a scene from scratch?
It`s a bit dynamic. Sometimes, it is just a simple idea that I’m trying out and either write down, sketch, or block out in 3D and from there, refine. What`s important is to not over-think it or to create something you think others would like. I`ve found the best method is to create something I really like myself, and chances are others will too.
What are your creative influences?
Influences? Everything. Work can spawn out of music, rhythms, or out of a comic-book strip. Or ideas thrown around a coffee-table with friends. From being hung-over. Movies. TV-series. By accident. Artwork and for sure video-games. Games have come a long way since I was a “gamer“ back in the mid 90s, though adventure classics like “Full Throttle,” “Day of the Tentacle” and “Sam&Max – Hit the Road” are still up there. Narrative-driven games with fantastic artwork to boot. Also, my garden is a source of inspiration (aka chaos).
In recent years, zombie-related content has been on the rise across all mediums. How is “Dawn of the … Stuff” going to be different?
Well, first off all, there are not going to be any zombies in the feature film, that might help to set it apart. Those were basically thrown into the trailer to create the sense of urgency and to keep it dynamic. In short: it is all about mother nature and her cruel ways.
If you had to bet on humans, social-media deprived zombies, or giant plants on acid, who do you think would come out on top?
Easy. Nature always wins. Always…
Whichever threat Alf’s project will finally have in store for mankind – we won’t let the green stuff triumph without a fight. We’ll have our hedge trimmers sharpened and those lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and shredders ready. Bring it on, flora!
– – – – – – – – – – – – –