Attack of the Cyber Octopuses: Sci-Fi without CGI

Nicola Piovesan has a dream: to recreate the look and feel of sci-fi classics from the Eighties, without CGI or chroma key. He took to Kickstarter to fund “Attack of the Cyber Octopuses”.

Attack of the Cyber Octopuses: Sci-Fi without CGI

Imagine William Gibson’s cyberpunk universe and sci-fi products like Blade Runner, Terminator, Escape from New York, Aliens, Akira or Tetsuo the Iron Man and you’ve the inspiration for the short film from filmmaker Nicola Piovesan.

The Kickstarter campaign has now 11 days to go, and reached close to €14,000 of a €18,000 goal, with nearly 500 backers. Nicola Piovesan hopes that the remaining days will bring enough support to make it possible to go ahead with a project that has already taken much of his time and that of a team with people from Italy, Estonia, Canada, United States, Portugal, Belarus, China and even Nigeria!

A large part of the crew come from the Baltic Film and Media school, an international university of cinema, based in Tallinn, Estonia. Some are still students and others are alumni. All have plenty of experience creating movies. This “hands-on” experience is a very important lesson to all of them.

Nicola Piovesan, the filmmaker behind the project, was born in Venice, Italy, on 1979. Since 2013 he lives in Estonia, working as a freelancer with many customers worldwide. As a filmmaker, he won more than 60 awards in hundreds of festivals worldwide, directing short films, animations, documentaries and music videos.

“Attack of the Cyber Octopuses” is a project he has worked on for some time now. Nicola Piovesan told ProVideo Coalition that “I wanted to make a short film with viral potential, a tribute to the 80s scifi masterpieces, like Blade Runner or Escape from New York, using the same methods they were using back in time… practical effects, model miniatures and lot of handcrafted things. All without using CGI, except for compositing and for creating vintage graphics, like the one for the cyberspace.”

The opening image on this article shows Nicola Piovesan with the handmade city miniature, “trying to look like an art director of the Eighties…” as he says. The city is partially 3D printed, partially crafted using cheap materials and junk. The Octopus designed by Nicola was also printed with a cheap 3D printer he bought, while the weapons are painted Nerf toy guns.

When all the props and sets were finished, the team, comprised of some 17 persons, was ready for shooting. Nicola says “we shot in three days. The first day for the city miniature and flying vehicles, then one day with the main character only, and another day with all the nine characters and especially with the three main ones.

One of the shoots was, says Nicola, 2, “in a wonderful Soviet futuristic location called Linnahall in Tallinn”. The short movie “Attack of the Cyber Octopuses” is set in Neo-Berlin, 2079 A.D., however, Nicola chose to film in Tallinn, Estonia. According to the filmmaker, “there are a couple of reasons for this choice. First of all, a large percentage of the crew is based here. Second, Estonia is an affordable filming location. Third, and most important, Tallinn has some great locations and a wonderful mix of a very modern city with many relics from the Soviet Era. This will all be combined with our custom-made miniature city.”

Attack of the Cyber Octopuses: Sci-Fi without CGI The story, as mentioned above, takes place in Neo-Berlin, 2079 A.D. A dark and rain-soaked city held by mega corporations where the only way for people to enjoy life is by connecting into cyberspace and taking the “binary trip”, a cyberdrug that fries your neurons but promises a feeling better than a hundred orgasms at once.

The film, says Nicola Piovesan, “is inspired by William Gibson’s cyberpunk landmark Neuromancer and by some of the most awesome sci-fi products of that 80s era, like Blade Runner, Terminator, Escape from New York, Aliens, Akira, Tetsuo the Iron Man and many more.”

“Lately there have been some great short film projects with 80s moods”, continues Nicola, “but “Attack of the Cyber Octopuses” wants to reach the next level, by avoiding almost entirely the use of computer graphics, except for editing, compositing and creating the virtual world of cyberspace, which requires a PC.  With the production of the weapons, vehicles, helmets, the cyber octopuses and even a miniature of the city  “crafted using junk, old toys and some 3D printed parts”, the team is trying, “as much as possible, to follow methods used in film as Blade Runner or the original Star Wars, that have amazing backstage photos.”

If the whole idea interests you, the blog created by Nicola Piovesan will be a good source of information for all the backstage preparations of “Attack of the Cyber Octopuses”. The filmmaker believes that by sharing their own experience they can motivate others to explore the same path. Nicola sees the whole experience as a lesson, because, he adds, “ when I had the idea for this project, it was something completely new for me, so I started googling around on how to make such things (kit bashing, diy, model making, etc) and at the same time I started to write the script.”

Attack of the Cyber Octopuses: Sci-Fi without CGI

Nicola Piovesan  believes that “2017 is an essential year for the return on big screen of the cyberpunk genre, which sees – among others – Blade Runner 2, Ghost in the Shell, and Mute. ‘Attack of the Cyber Octopuses’ is a tribute towards certain way of doing film that has disappeared in recent years with the arrival of CGI. A ‘pulp’ film, as Quentin Tarantino could make it, without being ‘trashy’ or ‘cheesy’, but also without taking things too seriously. A short film to make people think, in a visually attractive way, about our daily life and how addicted we are to the internet.”

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…